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#MeetTheAmbassadors: Harry Twohig

Jasmin Glynne

26 April 2021

Each week we will be spotlighting one of our amazing 2021 cohort of Ambassadors! This week we caught up with North East Ambassador Harry Twohig to discuss trusteeship and his campaign to champion trustee diversity in sports organisations.

Harry Twohig

NORTH EAST AMBASSADOR

Young Trustees Movement Ambassador

Before joining North Yorkshire based music education charity NYMAZ as a trustee nearly two years ago, I had little appreciation for the important work that happens in charity boardrooms, but what I did have was a keen interest in making a difference, and an understanding of the importance of bringing young people's voices to the fore in civil society. At the moment, I'm studying History at university, and spend some of my time working with Oxford Student Union to demystify the application process and campaign for fair access to education for all.  Outside of this, I also volunteer regularly with The Mix and with my local grassroots football club. I'm a keen believer that every young person should experience social action, and have worked with the #iWill Campaign as an Ambassador to further this aim. When I'm relaxing, you can usually find me catching up with friends (albeit on Zoom at the moment), watching sport on the TV or exploring new music on Spotify.

How did you get involved in trusteeship?

After having had the privilege of being involved in some incredible social action work with some national organisations, I was keen to return to my roots and seek out an opportunity to support my local community. When I spotted the chance to join the board at the North Yorkshire Youth Music Action Zone (NYMAZ) in summer 2018, I decided to apply and two years later here I am.

I do have to admit, though, that making the decision to apply wasn’t one that came to me easily. As an eighteen-year-old studying for their A-Levels, I spent a long time questioning if I would be able to make a valuable contribution to the organisation in this role. I didn’t know the slightest thing about finance or the law, and I couldn’t even play a musical instrument. Imposter syndrome nearly got in the way of me embarking on this amazing journey, but thankfully the inclusive recruitment process got me over the line – and I’m so glad that I did.

Having been in the role for almost two years now, I’ve come to realise that being a good trustee isn’t only about the X number of years of experience that you can bring to the table. More than anything, I think being a good trustee starts with caring for a cause, and then using that passion and your unique way of viewing the world to make the best possible decisions for your charity. I’m so glad that I took the plunge and got involved in trusteeship, and would encourage everyone reading this to do the same. Regardless of your age or background, your perspectives are truly valuable. Don’t let ‘the norm’ tell you otherwise.

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

One thing that I have been advocating for throughout my social action journey so far is the fact that decisions shouldn’t just be made by those who show up and are typically in the room. I believe all organisations have a responsibility not just to consult with individuals who will be impacted by their decision making, but to involve them in the process from the very beginning.

In many ways, joining the Young Trustees Movement was a perfect fit as it has enabled me to continue to follow this passion. If the purpose of charities is overwhelmingly to support older, white men, then I would understand why this group dominates decision making in boardrooms. In case you were wondering, though, it’s not. We need to see a shift in our charities boardrooms, so that lived experience is valued as a legitimate form of knowledge, and decisions are shaped and challenged by diverse perspectives. Achieving these things won’t be easy, and it is going to take time, but I wanted to play my part in creating this change. If we’re serious about building a more equal future with services that work for everyone, we have to start by creating change in our charities boardrooms. It was this awareness of the need for change that drove me to join the Young Trustees Movement.

What is your campaign focus and what do you hope to achieve with your campaign?

Through my campaign, I’m looking to work with organisations within the sporting world to diversify their governance structures. To boil it down simply, I’m aiming to support organisations who are in this space to move to a place where they recognise the value that young people could bring to their boardrooms, and feel inspired to put diversity at the very heart of their governance. There are so many amazing people working in this space already, and I can’t wait to get started and work alongside them to make change happen.

Why are you passionate about your campaign focus?

I grew up in a family of football fanatics and, having played for my local team for ten years, I am still involved with them as a volunteer today. As it still is for me, sport is a hugely influential part of the lives of so many young people across England and Wales, and it is absolutely vital that we engage these young people and their lived experience of participation to build more active communities in the future. The sporting world is really waking up to the need to involve young people in decision making, with major players such as the Football Association promoting youth voice initiatives, and I believe that diversifying the boards of these organisations is the next big step.

Get in touch

If you know or work for a sporting organisation and you’re thinking ‘I want to get started on that journey', then drop me a line (northeast@youngtrusteesmovement.org). I’d love to chat!

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