This week, we are celebrating National Trustees Week (12-16 November)!
We wanted to ask Sukayna Najmudin some questions about her experience of being a trustee, and why it’s important to include young people on a Board of Trustees. Sukayna has been a Cinema For All Trustee for just over a year, and is passionate about accessibility and inclusivity in the cinema.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience of being a Trustee for Cinema For All?
I am one of nine members of the Cinema For All Board of Trustees, a requirement of every charity has to ensure it is governed correctly. We work with the staff at the charity to ensure all the work they do fulfills Cinema For All’s charitable objectives focusing on our Strategic Directions. Each Trustee has a different background, skill set and approach to the role that together ensures the charity is well. We meet quarterly to review finance, approve members and discuss any developments in relation to fundraising and operations. This last year on the board has been a great opportunity for me to learn about the running of the charity, which I had previously only experienced from the point of view of a member, and governance in general. It has inspired me to be open to new opportunities and further champion Community Cinema.
Why did you decide to become a Trustee?
I had been a member of my University’s Student Cinema for a few years but it wasn’t until I was invited by Cinema For All to be a panellist at the 2017 Student Cinema Day that I really learnt that community cinemas existed. From then my interest in the community cinema movement continued to grow and I really began to appreciate the impact these organisations can have on their local communities. With this in mind, I wanted to play a more active role in encouraging and supporting these groups so when the the position on the board opened up, I decided to put myself forward.
What do you enjoy most about your role as Trustee?
One thing I’ve been passionate about is accessibility in cinema. Film is something that everyone has some sort of connection to, so therefore it really holds the ability to bring people together. The unique nature of community cinema is that it can provide safe and accessible spaces for all community members to come together to share the viewing experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed attending the conferences held by Cinema For All and hearing about the wonderful screenings held by our members, such as relaxed screenings that are autism and dementia friendly, and the work they are all doing to engage with the community, whether it be collaborating with charities or going into local colleges and universities.
“The unique nature of community cinema is that it can provide safe and accessible spaces for all community members to come together to share the viewing experience.”
Why do you think that it’s important for young people to become Trustees?
More often than not, Trustees are those who are settled in their lives and their careers looking for a side project or charity work. But every person a charity supports doesn’t fall within that bracket. Charities serve people from all different backgrounds but usually the Members of Boards don’t reflect the groups they serve. An effective board is one that ensures our charity is serving all of our members. As a young Trustee, I am able to bring a different perspective to the table. I bring a point of view to reflect all the young people involved the community cinema world, as well understanding how things can affect younger members of staff. I am able to question things from this perspective so we as a board can come to a balanced conclusion. Recently I have been working with our wonderful Community Impact Officer, Ellie, to engage our younger members and provide a platform where we can better support them, and by falling within that category, I can empathise with what they might want from Cinema For All.
“As a young Trustee, I am able to bring a different perspective to the table. I bring a point of view to reflect all the young people involved the community cinema world, as well understanding how things can affect younger members of staff.”
Do you have any advice for other young people interested in applying for Trustee roles?
My advice is that if you are interested in applying for a Trustee position, or any role where you take on more responsibility, you should go for it. It’s so easy to second guess yourself and feel like you don’t have the experience needed but let the people voting or appointing you make that decision. They might well see qualities in you that you may not have valued as highly. When I decided to run to be a Trustee, I was constantly trying to convince myself that it was a mistake, but the members saw value in me joining the board and it’s been an absolutely wonderful experience where I have gained skills and an insight that I can benefit from in the future. End of the day, what have you got to lose?