Amelia shares her views and experiences of being a trustee as part of our series of Trustees Stories.
My name is Amelia and I am a Trustee of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), a charity which educates young people from every background about the history of the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance.
My involvement with the charity began when I was in Sixth Form and took part in the Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project. I then became a HET Ambassador and subsequently a Regional Ambassador for the West Midlands, a role which involved opportunities to increase my knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust, from studying at Yad Vashem to hearing from eminent historians at our annual Ambassador Conference.
Having seen the worrying rise in antisemitism – from social media to my own university campus – I was acutely aware of the urgency and importance of HET’s work, so when I saw a trustee vacancy advertised, I decided to apply. From previous volunteering I had a vague understanding of how charities are governed, but a conversation with HET’s Chief of Staff helped me to fully understand the role and responsibilities of a Trustee. He also encouraged me to see that as part of one of the organisation’s main beneficiary groups, with my firsthand experience of HET’s programmes and my outlook as a young person, I could bring a unique insight and valuable perspective to the Board. This really helped me to convey my value confidently in my trustee application, which was successful, and I joined the Board in May 2019.
There have been many highlights throughout my first two years as a Trustee, such as meeting with the Secretary of State for Education to discuss our programmes, working with our inspiring Holocaust survivors, and supporting the team to transform our programmes for digital delivery throughout the pandemic. But the most rewarding part of my role is getting to work with such a brilliant team of skilled and dedicated staff. As an Ambassador I have always seen HET’s excellent output of events, programmes and resources, but as a Trustee I have gained a real appreciation of just how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to ensure success.
The greatest challenge I have faced as a Trustee has definitely been imposter syndrome. Being on a Board full of distinguished people with established careers and decades of experience can sometimes feel intimidating, especially whilst also being the youngest person in the room. But I am learning to remind myself that I have a unique insight and experience of the charity’s programmes and that I am the only Trustee who can bring this perspective to our discussions. Over time this has given me the confidence to speak up more and share my views in meetings, and the positive response this has received has reassured me that I am adding value to the organisation.
Trusteeship is a great way to use your skills, experience and perspective to support a cause you care about and I would encourage anyone who is passionate about a particular charity or cause to consider the opportunity.