The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is calling for new trustees from all backgrounds as it looks to broaden perspectives
Gurdev Singh, a trustee at the organisation, says it is looking to get “people from different backgrounds and age groups” involved.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Singh said: “Nature is for everybody. The importance of maintaining and improving our environment is critical. Otherwise we won’t have anything for our grandchildren and our grandchildren’s kids - if we don’t protect the earth.”
Mr Singh is currently the only person of South Asian background on the board. He says that around 25 per cent of the board is female while the “rest are middle aged males”.
It has been difficult getting ethnic minorities involved with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The organisation is carrying out some research to see how it can improve equality, diversity and inclusion.
Mr Singh wants to get the message out that the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is for people from all backgrounds.
“A lot of it is that people don’t know about us,” Mr Singh says. “People don’t know what we’re about and people are afraid of the unknown.”
Mr Singh, who made his name in the print and communications sector, has been involved with the trust for around four and a half years.
While he had an interest in the environment and wildlife, he felt that he didn’t “know anywhere near enough”. Despite this, his business and marketing skills were welcomed by the organisation.
“I learnt probably more than I’d been able to contribute,” Mr Singh says. “I know I’ve contributed well but sometimes it does make you think that if people get involved they will learn so much more and it’ll enrich their lives.”
The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust looks after over 100 nature reserves across the region.
For some people nature has been a “lifeline” throughout the pandemic, helping with their mental wellbeing and enabling them to connect with their family and friends.
This momentum has continued and while there is more of a receptive audience, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust isn’t taking it for granted.
“There’s a much more open mindedness about the work that we do and how people can benefit from it and also get involved,” Mr Singh said.
“It doesn’t cost any money to get out and about,” he added. “We’d love it if they became members, of course, but what we’re saying is go out there. Go to the local park. Walk across the local countryside.”
A diverse board would help the organisation to reach communities that it currently isn’t and encourage people from those backgrounds to also get out more and appreciate wildlife and nature in the region.
Mr Singh said: “It’ll help us to reach out to communities that we’re not currently able to attract. It’ll help bring a different perspective.
“You’ve got to realise that every board is trying to become more diverse. It should reflect the population that we have. It’ll be a great way of reaching out to these communities but also bringing some really great insight as well that we don’t currently have.”
The organisation is looking for people from business, media and digital backgrounds to get involved, Mr Singh says.
People interested in joining the board should email [email protected] for an application pack. The trust is holding an online briefing session on July 21 at 5pm.
The closing date for applications is August 19 with new trustees co-opted to the board at a meeting on October 27.
Exciting but challenging times
It is an “exciting time” to be joining the organisation, which is growing, says Rachael Bice, chief executive of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
However, there are challenges as well with the organisation needing people who can help it navigate uncertain economic and political conditions, Ms Bice said, to ensure that it is forward thinking in its approach.
She added: “We have significant environmental expertise and big ambitions, so we need trustees with skills and experience who can help us amplify impact, to make change across our landscapes and to empower our diverse communities.”