male standing outside YMCA centre

9 December 2020

Why did you want to become a trustee?

I wasn’t originally looking to become a trustee I actually wanted to stay connected with the YMCA . Having been involved in YMCA work for a while I wanted to help out but as things developed, I found myself being offered a role as a trustee.

Many people will think that being a trustee is only applicable to a certain demographic in Society, what would you say to that ?

I am certainly not what people would expect from a trustee! I have quickly come to realise that being a trustee is not just about what you know about detailed governance but is about being part of a team of people who share responsibility. My job is to bring my life experience and allow it to help me make decisions.

What are the most rewarding aspects of being a trustee as well as the most challenging?

If you haven’t been a trustee before then it is a very different perspective on the organisation than you would get as an employee. The challenge is to make sure you are keeping a high-level perspective on things and not getting drawn into the detail. You also need to make some difficult decisions and often have to delve into the challenging bits of the business.

On the positive, the exciting and rewarding thing is reading in the Board papers and seeing the stories of what we are doing and inspirational impact we are having as an organisation.

Why did you get involved in the YMCA?

It was by accident really; I was in Coventry studying at Uni and got involved with a charity using basketball with young people. That charity got taken over by the YMCA and I ended up volunteering with the YMCA. I haven’t really looked back! Its been great to connect with people all over the world through the YMCA, to be part of a global family who are doing things in over 100 countries.

During CV19 what have you learnt?

Like everyone else how resilient and adaptable we all are and how we need to get on with it. It is strange to think if you were told in advance there was a deadly virus taking over the world then I think we would have been really scared. In reality in my day job, home life and at the YMCA I see how people can adapt and move on

During CV19 how do you think the YMCA has moved on?

It’s a similar story in the YMCA, before Coronavirus we were talking about slow moving projects and getting people on board however what is become clear is we have really moved on with massive change and adapted to the new normal. Not least in the digitisation through things such as MS Teams we have just kept going and actually got closer and better.

As a board member you are both an ambassador and a person with one eye on the performance how do you balance those two things

It is a balancing act. The ambassador role is externally facing, highlighting the good work which is underway. The role in scrutinising the performance gives you the confidence to stand up and talk about the good work of the charity. Good governance helps create good outcomes.

What are your hopes for the future of YMCA SPG?

I think we should look at how YMCAs across London can come together, sharing best practice and then develop and grow together. Having grown up in inner city London I know there are areas of need that we as YMCA should be looking at. I would love to see YMCA St Paul’s Group synonymous with supporting young people right across London.

What would you say to someone else who’s thinking about becoming a trustee?

Being a trustee was a departure from my comfort zone but I have learnt a lot in the last 2 years and know so much more about the YMCA as a trustee. Being a trustee is one of the most challenging and the most rewarding experiences I have had. In my previous YMCA roles I had an impact on 5, 10 or 50 kids in a youth club, now the decisions I make as part of the Board has an impact on thousands of young people across London. So if you have been a young person, worked with young people, you have something you can offer.

What would you say to someone else is thinking about coming to work for the YMCA?

There are lots of charities and places you can work. You can look on the outside and think the YMCA is just like all other charities however by joining YMCA St Paul’s Group you join this huge network of likeminded YMCA people all around the world. You can not only do things in London but can be connected to a global movement. That’s got to be exciting!