The starting point of the law with regard to charity trusteeship is that anyone who is aged 16 or over for a charitable company and 18 or over for an unincorporated charity who wishes to act as a trustee should generally be free to do so. However, they must be capable of managing their own affairs and must not otherwise be disqualified (see below for links to our website) from acting as a charity trustee. Any appointment of a charity trustee must be made in accordance with any rules that a charity might have and the person appointed must be capable of carrying out the role and all of the duties of a charity trustee.
There are no legal restrictions on the appointment of persons as charity trustees and this includes someone who has been granted asylum here. Where the individual is an asylum seeker the trustees should ensure that the individual has discussed their appointment with their Home Office case owner as there is a legal prohibition on the employment of asylum seekers and restrictions may also apply where an asylum seeker is looking to do volunteer work for a charity.
There are also some practical considerations that apply regarding the appointment of an asylum seeker as a trustee of a charity. The charity trustees would need to consider the practicality of appointing someone who may only be here for a short period of time and there may be a difficulty for any charity trustee if English is not their first language. If a trustee is resident abroad it may be harder for them to attend meetings and for them to receive paperwork. If a charity trustee lives abroad it may not be possible for the Charity Commission or the court in England and Wales to require the trustee to perform their legal duties and responsibilities as a trustee of a charity.
The charity trustees would need to consider how best to address these issues to put the trustee in a position where they are able to carry out their role and meet the responsibilities of their charity trusteeship.
For further details about trusteeship please see our publications CC3 The Essential Trustee:an introduction and Finding New Trustees:what charities need to know