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My name is Laura Christer, I am 23 years old and from Newcastle Upon Tyne. I work full time as the Senior Domestic Abuse Peer Educator at West End Women and Girls Centre.

When I saw the advertisement that Virgin Money Foundation were recruiting two young board members I wanted to apply straight away. The organisation that I work for have received funding from VMF in the past and I was involved in the whole process from applying for the funding, through to having meetings with Nancy and a member of her team. The Staff were really supportive of anything that we needed and they supported the work being completely led by us rather than giving us targets to meet. I love the focus that VMF have on projects being fully youth led and I think the work that Virgin Money Foundation do with grass roots organisations is extremely important. I love that they visit organisations that apply for funding and get a true understanding of the work they do.

I was nervous about applying for the board position as I have never been a member of a board, however the interview process felt relaxed and I felt at ease meeting with Nancy and Ruth initially over facetime. My second interview, in person with Edward and Mandip, was nerve wracking, but they also made me feel really relaxed. When I got the positon I was really excited about being part of the organisation, the whole team at VMF have made me feel really comfortable and supported despite COVID-19 preventing any face to face meetings with the board.

I have been working with 2027 who have been supporting me with reviewing the board papers, reviewing and debriefing board meetings in advance and discuss any issues that arise. Nancy was also in regular contact making sure any questions or concerns I had were answered. I feel extremely privileged to be part of the board as a young member and think it’s really important that boards have young members. Having young board members brings a different outlook to the organisation. Young people often have a good idea of the needs and issues that their peers face, so I think having a young member on the board of VMF will make an amazing difference especially to other young people that will benefit from its funding. I am really excited about the future as a board member.