Meet the Smallwood Board member shadowees

The Smallwood Trust is delighted to announce that the three successful candidates who will shadow our new Board member Ambreen Shah are Saira Shahzadi, Shana Begum and Ciiku Sondergaard.

The shadowees will get the opportunity to be involved in Smallwood board meetings, access briefings and, with Ambreen, gain valuable insights into what being a Board member really entails.

The initiative demonstrates Smallwood’s commitment to exploring new ways to help bring equality, diversity and inclusion into all of our work to support our goal of ending gendered poverty.

Introducing the shadowees

Saira Shahzadi
Saira came to the UK from Pakistan three years ago. She is a single mother who is completing a Masters in Information Technology. Saira has been inspired to take on a number of voluntary roles starting with the British Red Cross where she helped other migrants settle into life in the UK and later with Rotherham Federation, providing support by telephone to vulnerable and elderly people. Saira currently volunteers at arts2Life, a Bristol-based music organisation that supports new artists and musicians, as a website manager.

“I am really happy to be selected as a shadowee Board member at Smallwood as I am also really motivated to help women. I want to understand the funding process better in order to support more women who have suffered traumatic experiences to become financially resilient.”

Shana Begum
Shana is the founder of St Helens’ Best Me CIC, a grassroots organisation, led and run by volunteers in the community with lived experience of adverse childhood experience and domestic abuse. They aim to fill in the gaps that are normally left behind as well as helping break the cycle of domestic abuse and supporting people with unresolved trauma in holistic ways.

Shana is also a local government officer and Domestic Abuse Trainer. Her 25 years lived experience of Domestic abuse, Honour based abuse, and forced marriages has inspired Shana to transform her past pain into her present power. Shana uses her experience in research and policy development to help change systems and supports organisations to become more inclusive and diverse for marginalised communities and neurodiverse people.

“This is such an amazing opportunity for someone with my experiences to not only gain valuable insights into what goes on at Board level but to also contribute to the discussions to hopefully help make it easier for those who find the process of applying for funding really challenging. I’m also excited about the support networking that the shadowees are developing together that we will ultimately pass onto others.”

Ciiku Sondergaard
Ciiku is the Founder and Executive Director of 4Wings where she identified a gap in the after-care services for survivors of trauma and abuse. Rather than being treated as just victims, 4Wings focuses on supporting women in multiple ways in order for them to take control of their own life.

Ciiku has completed a BA in Criminology & Communication Studies and is trained in Personal Development Coaching, Peer Mental Health Advocacy and Mediation, and Education & Training. Ciiku also designed and delivers the WINGS Personal Development Programme. As 4Wings’ programme director, she is responsible for organisation development, business planning, overall operations and developing partnerships.

“I’m looking forward to shadowing Ambreen as 4Wings is starting to expand and this is an opportunity to learn how things work at an organisation like Smallwood. I was also motivated to apply to this role because Smallwood had just recruited two women from minority backgrounds (Ambreen Shah and Faeeza Vaid) to their Board and I wanted to learn about their route to senior level positions as I am on a similar path.”

In response to the appointments, Ambreen said: “I’m delighted to welcome Saira, Shana and Ciiku on this journey as it’s clear from meeting them that they will provide us with different perspectives and insights given their lived, learned and practical experiences.”

Paul Carbury, Chief Executive of the Smallwood Trust, added: “Saira, Shana and Ciiku really impressed us with their passion, fresh perspectives, skills and experience – they all would undoubtedly be an asset to any trustee board. As a funder we have as much to learn from them as they do from the programme and we look forward to learning together in the coming months.”

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