Today I was involved in a Parliamentary Inquiry for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As mentioned in a previous post, the Inquiry was put together by CAF, the website is here http://www.growinggiving.org.uk/welcome
I attended with three hats on really- one, as Chief Exec of the Small Charities Coalition, two, as the Founder of Young Charity Trustees and three, as a relatively young Trustee myself (I’m 30).
I was first impressed by the speediness of the new security system in Portcullis House (thankfully they don’t take your picture any more) and then the quality of the Parliamentary Coffee once I got to the room itself.
Being a political geek I was both excited and honoured to see David Blunkett MP, who is chairing the Inquiry.
The first session was an introduction to the topic, and a bit of a look at CAF’s important ‘Mind the Gap’ report http://www.growinggiving.org.uk/the-issue
Then issues were explored around digital giving, with a range of experts including Dave Erasmus from Givey.UK and Nick Aldridge from PayPal Giving. It was really interesting to hear about some of the trends in these areas and how they relate to young people.
The next session considered how we can get more young people involved in giving during their school years and also when they are at University. We heard from a range of people including pupils and a teacher from a school in Barnet, a representative from NASUWT, and from the NUS/an individual Students’ Union. It was inspirational to hear more about the brilliant work that is being done to get young people more interested in charities and the charity sector. During a discussion about routes into the sector, I asked for the mic so I could give a mention for the brilliant Charityworks Programme, which I am a mentor for.
What impressed me about the Inquiry was that it asked, and is continuing to ask deep questions about why people get involved in charities and not just restricting this to their financial contributions.
I was the first contributor for the part about encouraging young people to become Trustees. I made the point that while there seems to me to be a large and growing appetite both from the sector to encourage young people onto Boards and for young people themselves to seek Trustee positions, unfortunately many charities still recruit Trustees solely from their (not particularly diverse) networks and the majority of young people have no idea that a Board position is even a possibility for them. I was swiftly followed by Leon Ward. Leon is a Trustee for PlanUK (some more info and context here http://www.mediatrust.org/newswirefeed/trustee-21-to-address-inquiry/3436/ ) and an Ambassador for Young Charity Trustees http://youngcharitytrustees.org/yct-ambassadors/ as well as a blog writer for Third Sector http://leonward.thirdsector.co.uk/2013/04/17/the-sector-seems-to-want-young-talent-at-no-cost/#more-137 Leon outlined many of the barriers that face young people who are interested in Trusteeship and connected these, as he does in his latest blog post, to wider issues about getting them into the sector in paid roles. The young Chair of the youth Board at Whizz Kids and two young people from NCVYS made strong contributions echoing many of these points and emphasizing how much young people can do when given the opportunity to lead in charity roles.
The final part of the afternoon was devoted to the question of how young people can be encouraged to make a lifelong connection to the charity sector. With contributions from the Chief Execs of the Citizenship Foundation, YouthNet and NCVYS and the Director of Research at NPC, a wealth of experience was brought to bear on this topic. One of the things that I believe came out of the overall discussions is the importance of all of us who are interested in and concerned about these issues working collaboratively and mutually promoting our work.
David Blunkett MP was a great Chair, keeping the mood light yet productive and was ably assisted by Baroness Tyler.
I look forward to following the next stage of the Inquiry and reading the final report into this crucial issue.