Your lived experience – it could make you a future leader

by Hazel Finney, Lead – Volunteering, Community Impact Bucks

If you’re reading this publication, then one thing’s for certain: you have an interest in your local community.

And your local community wouldn’t be able to thrive if it weren’t for the myriad of charities, community groups and social enterprises providing vital services, many of which support children and vulnerable adults, and help to make their lives just that little bit easier.

But these organisations couldn’t exist without strong leaders; whether they’re known as Trustees, non-exec Directors, Committee or Board members, or Governors – they all perform the vital role of ensuring that the organisations they represent are doing what they were set up to do.

It might be 2019, but sadly many Boards don’t reflect the communities that they serve, and their stakeholders.  It can be all too easy for organisations to recruit through their personal networks, and this invariably results in Boards composed of people with the same lived experiences, opinions and outlooks.  At Community Impact Bucks, we’re working hard to change this, and what better time to encourage people from all sections of the community to seriously consider being future leaders than Trustees’ Week which runs from 4-8 November.

What you can gain and some recommendations

If you’re wondering what you could gain from sitting on a Board, without a doubt, the main benefit is solid leadership experience – which can be invaluable for various different areas of your life.  It will also enable you to be involved strategically, and to use any professional/managerial or business skills that you might have.  If you have a busy life, it might also be more convenient for you than volunteering on a more regular basis.

Understandably though, it can also be daunting, for example you might wonder what your exact responsibilities will be.  But please don’t let this put you off – your local community needs you!  There are some key things that I recommend you do: approach organisations where you have a strong connection with the cause, and ask lots of questions of other Board members, as well as volunteers/staff/beneficiaries if possible.  If you’re offered a role, ask to shadow one or two Board meetings before committing yourself.

Engaging young people


At Community Impact Bucks, we’re particularly keen to get young people involved in leading local organisations, and what better way to encourage their contemporaries than individuals already carrying out these roles.  We recently spoke to Inaam, a young Trustee with Wycombe Action, who when asked what prompted him to volunteer as a Trustee, said: “I was inspired by what WYA did for me when I was a service user.”  And on what difference volunteering as Trustee makes to him: On a personal note, it is a great thing to have on my CV. One of the key things I get benefit from is the opportunity to learn from the other members of such a diverse Board of Trustees at WYA.”

Intrigued?  To find out more about what it means to help lead a not-for-profit organisation in your community, and to search for local opportunities, visit: or email