Long read: A day in the life of Samiya, Starlight's Community Fundraising Manager

What is a typical day in the life for you as a Community fundraising manager?

It can vary. It can be super boring with lots of admin or it can be quite fun; like this morning, Lottie (Starlight's Community and Events Fundraising Co-ordinator) and I did an assembly to 180 children at a local primary school exploring the power of play. My team and I are always coming up with creative ways of trying to engage people, thinking about what we could do, and how we engage people and do something fun, the also doing the logistical side of it: 'Well, what does that actually look like?', 'How do we do it?' and 'How do we get people engaged?'

The rest time is spent managing my team making sure they're doing the best that they can do and that we're helping them grow and learn.

So yeah, lots of fun!

Tell us something exciting that's happened in your role recently...

There are lots of fun little bits that happen. The Play Week bunting was quite fun because it was something different. We hadn't done it before and the idea came directly from health play champions. 

What's been nice from it is the amount of schools who have then messaged us about the extra stuff they are doing, and told us 'Oh, we're doing an assembly all about Starlight' or 'We're gonna do some fundraising for Starlight.' It's just nice to see how a conversation with Natalie (Starlight’s Relationship Manager) turned into decorating hospital wards, to schools during assemblies, and fundraising for us.

What was your favourite way to play as a child?

I always had a lot of kids around; I've got three siblings and I have a lot of cousins. I really remember doing those yoghurt pot telephone things with me and my siblings. The boys would be in their bedroom and we would be in our room, and we would do the string with the yoghurt pot and talk through it and pretend to be on some secret missions, when obviously our parents could hear everything because the yoghurt pots don't actually work and we're literally just shouting each other through the room.

But one thing that I always remember is my dad. We would all play games like backgammon, chess, checkers, and board games like that...and he'd always cheat, he'd always, always cheat.

And his thing was like, 'that's just how I choose to play and it makes you better’ so you could never look away.

I actually recently started playing backgammon again because I missed playing it when I was little.

Is that your favourite game?

Yeah, to be fair, I tend to either go backgammon or sudoku, which I know is really boring, but they are my two favourite games if I'm playing something on my phone. If the kids are around actually, what I really love is - we have a really stupid game which is like a headband with a unicorn horn on it, and you have rings that you have to throw for different points. None of the kids can play it and they're ridiculous and it's stupid, but I love watching them all try to play it because none of them understand how to throw the things to get it onto the horn. None of us can ever do it and actually it just feels like a massive success when you manage to get it on.

Is there something that you wish more people knew about your job?

I think often people think of our big Community & Challenge events, like the TSC London Marathon and CarFest, but we're so much more than that. We have so many people who do the weirdest and wackiest things for us, from walking on aeroplane wings, posting golf days or doing little clothes sales. Someone made a calendar for us that they're selling next year!

As a team, we recognize that we're like feeders for the organisations, that our whole job is to go out and find those people who'll do those small things and it's sustainable and small and happening, but those people might turn into something bigger if we look after them properly.

What do you feel like you don't get to do enough of in your role that you wish you could do more of?

Oh, that's a hard one. We’re a small team so we’re limited as to how much we can do out in the community. I really want Starlight to have its own community event, like our own little challenge.

One of my favourite things I've ever started is at my first charity, which was called a Toddle. We got kids to sign up to do a 1k walk around the Rose Garden in Hyde Park. We had kids in prams, we had kids who couldn't walk or kids who could walk but with parents, all following a guy in a big Bugs Bunny costume. It was just a really nice, fun day. With finite resources we don't get to do that here, yet, but we hope to. We definitely want to.

What are you most focused on in the coming months?

For the winter fundraising, we've got a lot of activities, we've got the Santa run, we've got Sleep with the Stars, we're writing to clubs, all these organizations, small community groups that exist. So trying to get as many of those people to know that we exist and then do stuff for us, whatever that stuff looks like. I just think raising the profile over winter when we've got film and stuff going on, and trying to get new people signed up to do stuff for us throughout the coming year.