Wakefield charity Penny Appeal appoints child chief executive

Penny Appeal 'child CEO' Shakira Rahman
Penny Appeal 'child CEO' Shakira Rahman

A Wakefield-based charity that has raised thousands of pounds for people in need has appointed a new chief executive - but it might not be quite who you'd expect.

Eleven-year-old Shakira Rahman has been appointed "child CEO" of Penny Appeal, based on Cross Street, and will report her ideas directly to the top level of the charity.

The charity was looking for a new outlook on the work it does and wanted someone to feed back about the issues affecting children today.

The (adult) chief executive of Penny Appeal, Aamer Naeem said: "A charity commission report found 92 per cent of charity trustees are between 55-64 years old.

"So, we are appointing the first Child CEO of a charity. We want her to have a real job that makes real change, arranged around school work of course.

"I think we have a great deal to learn from young people like Shakira. Not just by her bringing an insight into what children and young people attitudes are, but by strengthening the quality
of discussion.

"She often says things that hit you right between the eyes and we need to be challenged."

Shakira will be visiting Penny Appeal’s projects to find out about the work they do as well as meeting with children from around the UK to discover what they need.

Her first assignment was to visit orphaned children in The Gambia and see how different their lives are from hers.

Shakira said: "I was so excited to meet the children in Gambia, when I got there I spent a couple of days with them hanging out.

"They have breakfast at school as well as lunch, because some children come from poor families.

"When I told Fatima, one of the students, that some schools have breakfast in my country because children are coming to school hungry, she couldn’t believe that we have poor people in our country."

Her task is now to raise awareness of the effects of poverty, Islamaphobia and domestic violence on children.

Adeem Younis, chairman and founder of Penny Appeal, said: "Shakira believes change will happen, her energy is infectious and it brings out the eternal optimist in us that so many of us left behind in our childhoods."