Note: the browser you are using is out of date and this website may not work properly. Please upgrade your web browser.

blog • Story

Meet Tamanna Miah

Megan Raybould

02 December 2020

In this series we're sharing experiences, tips and ideas about trusteeship from our members here in the Young Trustee Movement Digital Hub. This week we’re excited to introduce Tamanna.

Tamanna has been a charity trustee since the age of 18, starting with CXK (formerly Connexions Kent), followed by National Youth Agency, and was most recently Chair of trustees at NOMAD - a charity that's for refugees and migrants. You can hear more from Tamanna on her FacebookTwitter and website.

We asked Tamanna about her experience in the sector, along with her recommendations for aspiring young trustees and what boards should be doing to be more accessible and inclusive.

Name: Tamanna Miah

Age: 27

Role: South East Ambassador and Young Trustees Movement Advisory Board

Trustee: Previously Chair of the Board for Nomad, Trustee for National Youth Agency and Connexions Kent.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO BECOMING A TRUSTEE, HOW DID YOU GET TO THIS POINT?

I was on the Youth Advisory Board for Connexions Kent and then later became a trustee with them.

I joined the National Youth Agency (NYA) and sat on the NYA independent commission into young people and enterprise, chaired by Chloe Smith MP in Parliament.

I was a UK Young Ambassador (UKYA) for British Youth Council (BYC) and was running presentations and workshops for Refugee Youth. I was regularly invited to be further involved, and then that part of the organisation separated to form a new charity called Nomad which helped set up.

It’s been an eye opening journey becoming a trustee at a very young age and seeing a charity I was part of developing and growing.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR GREATEST REWARD ON YOUR TRUSTEE JOURNEY SO FAR?

It's seeing change happen. Seeing something grow and develop into something much bigger.

I like to see things from the start to the finish too, and evaluate throughout so we can learn and improve what we’re doing, to help reach as many people as possible.

It’s knowing that you're part of something that is going to change, or has changed somebody else's life. Even if one person has learned or gained something from work you've done, if one person changes their mindset, then you’ve made a big difference because it has a domino effect - that person passes it on and so on.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR ROLE AS A TRUSTEE TO DATE?

There have been many challenges, some are obvious, for example timings of meetings can be difficult.  In earlier years trying to get time out to attend when I was in education or in work was hard.

Nearly 10 years ago when I first started employers and educational establishments weren’t aware of what a trustee was or how important it is so it was impossible to get time off to do the role.

So changing the culture, allowing people to be flexible and volunteer and not having to take your own leave for a trustee meeting would be ideal.

Charities need to acknowledge and be more appreciative and considerate towards trustees remembering they are UNPAID VOLUNTEERS and have lives outside of this and not to ask too much! Look after them, feed them properly, pay their full travel, accommodate their needs and costs!

Many charities can be stuck in their ways. I’ve spoken to boards before and been told some trustees have been there for years and many stayed automatically because of their long standing personal or professional relationship to the charity. It comes as no surprise then, that no wonder everyone looks and thinks the same way. It’s organisations like this that are likely not to be open to change and make room for new diverse people.

HAVE YOU GOT ANY TIPS TO ANYONE THAT WASN’T FINDING THEIR BOARD ACCOMMODATING AND DIDN’T FEEL WEREN'T BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN THE BOARDROOM?

You can bring issues up informally to the Chair or CEO privately. If you feel confident, you could raise it in the board meeting in a polite but direct way. If it’s left unresolved you might decide to formally complain in writing and have a meeting;  have someone advocate for you;  contact other governance organisations; contact the Charity Commission; or ultimately if a board doesn’t work for you - it’s ok to decide to leave.

I would say that if a board does not appreciate or value you, they don't deserve your free and unpaid time, or volunteering. It is not worth wasting your own time, life, physical or mental health.  It took me a long time to realise that. Now when I do apply for trusteeships, I’m picky because I know my worth, trustees - young people, disabled, BAME are  valuable to charities and that should be recognised.

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ANYONE LOOKING FOR A TRUSTEE ROLE THEN?

Really do your research. Call and email them, look at their website, social media, look up staff and trustees on LinkedIn, see their online reports and financials. Research how diverse the staff and board is, because if they aren't diverse then you might want to investigate more closely to  see what it’s going to be like.  If you join a  board where there is  an ingrained culture of exclusion. It’ll be a bigger battle for you on those boards.

Join a board that is representative of  your own campaign objectives and values. Being a trustee is a two way street you need to benefit just as much as they do! I’ve seen so many trustees give up their valuable time for years and not gain anything!

Book a Training Session

Join a 1 hour training session to understand the power of young trustees, have a framework to understand how to approach board diversity and take practical next steps.