Penny Appeal has always prided itself on being a youth-led charity. Having set it up when I was still in my 20s, we offered the faith-led charity sector a breath of fresh air. Dynamic, responsive and in tune with emerging trends within our communities, our youth-led strategy catapulted us to soaring heights.
However, it’s been a long time since then. This year we are celebrating ‘10 Amazing Years’ at Penny Appeal and have come to realise we’re not quite the young spirits we once were when we started all those moons ago! Conscious of our greying (and balding) heads, we wanted to re-inject some youthful, wide-eyed wisdom into the heart of Penny Appeal and so we’ve made a ground-breaking move to appoint the very first child-CEO of a charity!
Introducing Shakira Rahman, our 11-year old amazing Kid Boss! Shakira now enjoys unprecedented access to the length and breadth of the charity, from visiting our programmes across the UK and around the world, to spending time with our different teams, offering unique insights and wisdom that only a child’s mind can offer.
Research by the Charities Commission demonstrates a lack of representation of young people serving on the board of trustees for charities. In fact, 92% of trustees are between the ages of 55 and 64 years old.
At Penny Appeal we like to buck the trend and hence, we’ve broken from tradition to bring a young person into a position where they could have real impact within the charity and the world beyond!
Children are naturally curious, hopeful and matter of fact, their innate optimism and energy naturally inspire change. They are directly vested in the future as it is they who will inherit the world that we hand over to them. Appointing Shakira into a real job that has a real impact is already changing the way we do things at Penny Appeal. Her mission will be to raise awareness of the effect our world is having on children, because whether it’s poverty, Islamophobia or domestic violence, children are often the worst affected.
One of Shakira’s first assignments as our Kid Boss was to visit Penny Appeal’s state of the art orphan complex in The Gambia. There she got a real sense of the work we are doing and the big difference it is making to orphan children’s lives. Shakira went to school for the day in The Gambia and spent time playing and talking with the children. Seeing her interact with the children was eye-opening. She was able to connect on a much more personal and relatable way, exploring how surprisingly similar her life was with those of the orphan children, and how the small change of our generous donors made a big difference in their lives.
Penny Appeal has come a long way in 10 years but in reality, we’re just getting started. The charity has grown far beyond my hopes and dreams for it and with bright sparks like Shakira at the helm, I can’t wait to get stuck in the next 10 years, onwards and upwards!