You don’t need decades of experience to be a trustee

The Alliance’s new Policy Adviser, Ben Jessup, explains why you don’t have to be a senior professional to be a trustee.  

Working collaboratively with people from a range of backgrounds helps to promote diversity of thought – something we should reflect upon this Trustees’ Week. We must encourage more young people to seek out trustee positions, and in turn, organisations need to make sure they are sharing their opportunities far and wide to recruit a skilled and diverse board. 

It’s important to remember that a trustee is a volunteer and the role has similar responsibilities to a non-executive director in a non-charitable organisation. Still, according to Trustees’ Week, some 86,000 16-34-year-olds hold trustee positions in the UK, helping to break down the misperception that trustees need decades of experience. 

Go back a few years and I was convinced that you had to be an experienced, senior professional in your chosen field to be a trustee. Today, I’m lucky enough to be a non-executive director at the English Lacrosse Association and trustee of the charity UK Youth.  

Being involved with both organisations has been a big learning curve for me. It’s given me the opportunity to drive change from within, grow my network and importantly, has given me fresh perspective and insight that I know will help me in my role here at the Alliance.  

So, this week, I encourage you to consider how you could get involved and make a difference to an organisation as a trustee. With over one million positions in the UK alone, there is something out there for you.  

Organisations should be making sure that their opportunities reach as wide a range of potential applicants as possible. Sport and recreation runs across society, so why not advertise roles outside the sector?  

Gender balance, ethnic diversity, broad skill sets and diversity of thought are all essential.  

The first three lead to the latter to some extent, but we can always do more and The Principles of Good Governance for Sport and Recreation provide support for our members and the wider sector to achieve these aims. If you are looking for a way to contribute to a cause you are passionate about and able to support, I would absolutely recommend looking into the opportunities out there.  

Ultimately, being a trustee is a voluntary role, but after all, the best things in life are for free.    

More about Ben 

Ben joined the Alliance as Policy Adviser in October 2017 and is going to be focusing on: 

  • Developing the Alliance’s activity around children and young people;  

  • Leading on the sport and recreation policy agenda for mental health; 

  • And, helping to reinforce the importance of outdoor recreation to help tackle some of society’s biggest issues.  

If you would like to contact Ben, his email is