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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Chief encounters: meet Samina Ansari

This feature is almost 6 years old

​Find out what makes Samina Ansari, chief executive of Amina - The Muslim Women's Resource Centre tick

What makes a good day at work?

Getting through all of my emails, productive meetings, being able to support staff from the different offices and as a team feeling like we're making real progress to improving lives.

How many hours do you normally work in a week?

Far too many! That's a sore question for me right now as I've been trying to reduce my hours so I can focus more on pursuing some personal goals, but the reality is it's a demanding and very full time job. So to answer, in an average week, about 48 hours.

What do you procrastinate over?

Unstructured tasks or those tasks that will take a significant length of focussed, uninterrupted time and tasks that make me feel anxious. Joining the gym is what I've been procrastinating over for the last year. I don't even have an excuse, the gym is across the car park and even has a dedicated women's area! I'm sure I read somewhere that there had been some research done on procrastinating at work, with the result being it made you more creative - procrastinating pays off!

What turns you into the office Victor Meldrew?

Mugs that haven't been washed and have been left lying around the office.

Charities do an amazing amount of good work, despite the continuous pressures, and often being on the receiving end of much criticism

Is the third sector a calling or an accident?

It was an accident that became a calling. My roots are in community youth work, and for nearly 13 years I've been at Amina MWRC in various roles, taking up the chief executive role in 2016. I'm passionate about supporting and creating change that empowers communities to flourish; a firm believer that communities must be involved in co-producing solutions.

What happens during your perfect weekend?

Quality time with my wee boy, most likely outdoors at a park or discovering somewhere new, or doing arts and crafts with him at home when the weather is a bit dreich, which it often is in Glasgow! Seeing family and friends, and enjoying meals where I don't have to cook.

What’s your favourite film?

For animation, hands down Coco, it's a beautiful film. Overall, probably Forrest Gump, though some of the recent Marvel films have been brilliant.

Would we all be better off if charities did more in our society?

Charities play an important role in society, and are increasingly delivering social care, health care, education and other programmes that were traditionally within the realm of the public sector. Charities do an amazing amount of good work, despite the continuous pressures, and often being on the receiving end of much criticism. We hold our sector and the public sector to account to quite different standards. If anything, we need to give more to this sector.

You’re home, fully fed with your feet up – which comes first Eastenders or Facebook?

Definitely not Eastenders! I gave up on it many years ago when there were too many car crashes, affairs, people falling off buildings, Christmas ending in tragedy, and not so shock returns to the Square. Netflix stole me.

Is this a step on the ladder or your final destination?

It's a part of the journey, to a destination that I don't quite know, and I'm completely ok with that.

What do you think is the main strengths of the Scottish charity sector?

The people. With all of the cuts and increasing demands on the sector, we attract volunteers, staff and supporters that are generous with giving in whatever way they can, eg time, resources, contacts and more; the sector has some of the most passionate people that are brilliant change makers.

What are the big challenges facing your charity over the coming year?

We're celebrating our 21st birthday later on this year and are taking a long hard look at ourselves and our journey thus far. We've been looking at sustainability, the changing demography of Muslim communities and their needs across Scotland, and how to be responsive without losing sight of who we are.

What does your dream retirement look like?

With the pension age continuously going up, thinking about retirement at the moment seems like a lifetime away! I've not thought about my dream retirement yet, though have thought about my legacy - I want to be remembered as being a positive disruptor, challenging the status quo; someone that lovingly gave of her skills, knowledge and experience to make a difference.

Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?

Brian Edward Cox. Pop star turned professor - you can be whatever you want to be.