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Aman Ahluwalia-Hinrichs’ Experience as Trustee for Inclusion Barnet
10th November 2023
My name is Aman, I’ve lived in Barnet for the last 10 years.
I grew up working class, though I wouldn’t describe myself that way now. I’m a disabled person – and have experience of mental health issues and neurodiversity. I’ve always worked in the charity sector – focusing on community development, youth work, community asset building, disability and anti-racism.
I’ve always been interested in how to unlock the potential and build on the power we have in our communities to create change at the grassroots and have done lots of research on this, with the mission of working towards:
‘A world in which all leaders fighting for inclusive social justice have access to the tools, skills, training and relationships that they need to achieve transformational change’.
My Trustee Role
I’ve been a trustee for 3 years now – and started in my current role at Inclusion Barnet a year ago.
As a local organisation run by disabled people, I’m interested in Inclusion Barnet’s work – love their ethos and that matters to me, I can bring lots to the table.
I recommend being interested in the work your organisation does: get a sense of the culture of the board and pick wisely what you want to be doing.
What inspired me to become a trustee?
Being ‘of service’… In a way, my journey towards trusteeship has probably been quite ‘traditional’ – I work in the sector and love strategic roles – but it’s really rewarding to contribute to the development of a charity without being responsible for the day-to-day project management.
Trustees act as supervisors, equals to the CEO: I love being involved in strategic decision-making, and understanding trends – so my role on the board is often strategic and policy-focused. It gives you the chance to look at the bigger picture and think more long term which I really love.
Boards need all kinds of expertise though – administrative, HR, finance, knowledge of the local community, depending on the work of the charity – all sorts of skills and knowledge are handy. What is also important is lived experience. Which is where a diverse board is important.
I’ve been approached to be a trustee by a few different recruiters and it’s actually been a really interesting experience – big organisations are trying to diversify their boards – but it is important to me to make sure those diverse voices are given the ability to challenge the organisation. To bring their lived experience to the decision-making and to interact in a way that is meaningful. Not just a diversity of faces, but a diversity of ideas.
How was the induction process/first meeting?
I’d reported to boards in my jobs before but being on a board itself is quite different! My previous experience of induction processes has definitely been mixed – I’ve had to do a lot of my own research on how to be a good board member. There’s lots of info on: gov.uk, NCVO and Getting On Board.
I was daunted in my first-ever board meeting – but it’s definitely absolutely fine to take your time to learn and listen before you speak, ask questions if you need clarification and find the board members you think you mesh with.
What do I like (or dislike!) about the role?
- I love being on Boards because I get to do the exciting thinking work without having to actually project manage the work – as someone with ADHD that’s the dream!
- I love feeling like I’m doing something meaningful in my community.
- It’s great to meet new people and learn new things – it’s especially interesting to learn how other charities work.
- I also sometimes get involved more widely – in tender interviews and events which gives me a little more of a sense of the charity and its work.
- I do dislike not always having the time to go over things in as much detail as I’d like – but that’s when you have to trust your other colleagues.
- And of course, the feeling like I’d like to do more!
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