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A personal volunteering experience

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As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility program, Tugela People encourage their employees to ‘give back’ to the community by allocating three days of paid leave a year to get involved with a charitable cause/s. Several of our employees are already involved with charities and give their time to a wide range of causes. As a Sage People business partner, Tugela People also supports the Sage Foundation.

After a recent company-wide event where we discussed volunteering, Yasmine Martin (Lead Consultant within our Professional services division providing consultancy and implementation services for the Sage People HRIS) reached out with the following article about her experience as a volunteer at the Zonita Community Cinema:

Yasmine Martin. Lead HRIS Consultant, Tugela People. More.

Ok, so what’s on everyone’s top 10?” says Andy, the lead volunteer of the Zonita Community Cinema in Ampthill. We are sat in Costa on a cold Saturday morning, nestling our oversized cups of latte, deciding on which films to show for the upcoming season.

“How about After Love?” I say, “I know the Director!”. Andy is quick to point out that we can’t get hold of the rights, unfortunately, but it’s a good choice. Having a connection in some way to the film is seen as a real positive, as we are always keen to incorporate added extras for the audience where we can. This can include a Q&A, a talk by a member of the film production team, or a few songs by a band that is in keeping with the film. Cue local shanty band  “Sloop Groggy Dogs”, who played a few tunes during the interval of our showing of “Fishermans’ Friends” a couple of years ago, which went down a storm (excuse the pun!).

We also like the idea of showing films that have a connection with the local area, and Disney’s Dumbo, which was not only filmed at the nearby aircraft hangar in Cardington but also features two twin girls, who happen to live in Ampthill as extras, makes the final cut.


Volunteering experience by Tugela People team member. Learn more

The Zonita is a community cinema set up in the early 2010s, its namesake having been housed in an art deco building in the town centre which was demolished in 2005 to make way for a Waitrose.

Held every month at the Parkside Community centre, the cinema uses state of the art equipment donated by Sony. It is run entirely by volunteers and is well supported by the community of Ampthill and the surrounding areas. We have a matinee showing for the children and an evening showing for the grown-ups. Over the years, it has become much of a lifeline for elderly and disabled people and families on low incomes. Being a non profit organisation has enabled Zonita to provide a cost effective alternative to its more expensive multi-screen rivals in nearby Bedford and Milton Keynes while providing the added charm of an old style cinema -  an interval for popcorn and ice-creams, not to mention a well stocked licensed bar.. and that is where I work!

Every month, we unpack our boxes from under the stage in the main hall, stock up the bar with drinks and snacks, make popcorn and endless cups of coffee, do a stock-take and get ready to serve the customers. If needed, I also help to put the chairs out in perfect rows in front of the curtained stage. Very much a professional outfit but with a friendly feel.

Volunteering at the Zonita Community Cinema. Learn more

Many of the customers know each other, and it’s a real opportunity to catch up and make new friends, something we have all missed in recent years. This month, we are anticipating low numbers as we are competing with the England v France World Cup match, but we look forward to the new season and all the interesting films we’ll show.

Thanks to my employer, Tugela People, who provide three paid volunteer days for all employees (days off in lieu, even if the volunteer days are out of regular working hours or at the weekend).


You can learn more about our Corporate Social Responsibility program, by clicking here.