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#MeetTheAmbassadors: Amelia Ireland

Jasmin Glynne

07 June 2021

Each week we will be spotlighting one of our amazing 2021 cohort of Ambassadors! This week we caught up with West Midlands ambassador Amelia Ireland to discuss trusteeship and her campaign to get more young people on the trustee boards of charities that serve young people!

Amelia Ireland

West Midlands Ambassador

Young Trustees Movement Ambassador

Amelia is a Trustee of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET). She first became involved in the organisation during Sixth Form when I completed their Lessons from Auschwitz Project. Amelia is currently the Young Trustees Movement Ambassador in the West Midlands.

How did you get involved in trusteeship?

My involvement in trusteeship began around two years ago, when I was appointed a Trustee of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) in May 2019. HET’s mission is to raise awareness and understanding about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. My engagement with the charity began when I was in Sixth Form and took part in its flagship educational programme, the Lessons from Auschwitz Project*.* Upon completion of this programme, I became a HET Ambassador, before subsequently applying and becoming a Regional Ambassador for the West Midlands. This role has involved countless educational opportunities to increase my knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust, from studying at Yad Vashem to hearing from eminent historians at our annual Ambassador Conference.

Having seen the worrying rise in antisemitism - from social media to my own university campus - I was acutely aware of the urgency and importance of HET’s work. So, when I saw a trustee vacancy advertised, I decided to apply, with the hope that I could use my experiences to support the organisation in a new and different way. From previous volunteering in the sector, I had a vague understanding of how charities are governed, but a conversation with HET’s Chief of Staff enabled me to fully understand the responsibilities of the role. He also encouraged me to see that as a part of one of the organisation’s main beneficiary groups, with my firsthand experience of HET’s programmes and my outlook as a young person, I could bring a unique insight and valuable perspective to the Board. This really helped me to convey my value confidently in my trustee application, which was ultimately a successful one.

What motivated you to become an Ambassador for the Young Trustees Movement?

I came across the Young Trustees Movement just over a year ago, when seeking out other young trustees in the sector to connect with, but when I discovered just how few charity trustees are under the age of thirty, I knew I wanted to help challenge this lack of diversity and underrepresentation of young people on Boards.

I firmly believe that diversity benefits everyone and that Trustee Boards which bring together people from a variety of backgrounds, with different life experiences, are better equipped to make the decisions which most effectively support the communities they work with. Young people can bring valuable insights and new perspectives to a Board and this diversity of thought fosters innovation and encourages rich discussion and debate.

The Ambassador role seemed like a brilliant opportunity to use my own experience of trusteeship to help promote the benefits of young trustees to charities, small and large, and to inspire other young people to see the value they can give to causes they care about by getting involved in governance.

Of course, young people are not the only group which is underrepresented in charity leadership, and I am proud to be part of a movement which approaches Board diversity with an intersectional lens. Young people aren’t one thing and so I hope that as we increase the number of young trustees, we also move the dial on the many other identities also currently underrepresented at Board level.

What do you hope to achieve with your campaign?

Through my campaign I hope to highlight the benefits that young trustees can bring to organisations which work to educate or support the development of young people. Whilst all charities can benefit from diversity of age, I feel that those working with young people in particular, need to not only consult these young people but also involve them in the decision-making which impacts them.

I aim to encourage these charities to see the invaluable insight that a young person who has participated in their programmes can bring to Board level discussions, and that whilst they might not have extensive governance or trustee experience, they have potential worth investing in, and will be able to contribute fully with the right training and support. Similarly, I hope to inspire young people themselves to see that even if they do not look like a typical charity trustee, that their voices and views can be incredibly valuable to the causes they care about and are, in fact, much needed.

Why are you passionate about your campaign focus?

I am passionate about this focus because I believe we need to see a shift in charity sector governance to value life experience as much as professional expertise, so that we can build diverse charity Boards which reflect the communities they serve.

Too often, the useful perspectives that young people who have experienced a charity’s programmes or work can bring to its Board are overlooked. But those experiences, and their insights into the needs of their peers, are essential to ensuring that charities’ future work, programmes, and strategy, support those they exist to benefit in the most effective way possible.

If you’re interested in trusteeship, this campaign, or our work in the West Midlands, then please do get in touch. Email me on westmidlands@​ for a chat about how you can get involved.

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