Together For Cinema designs and installs home cinema rooms in children’s hospices across the UK for the benefit of the children, their families, the staff and all volunteers. It is an AV Industry movement that has been embraced by all who know of our work and now has the total support and backing of our industry. No money ever changes hands, we operate simply on time and product donations...
I am another one of us who stumbled into the industry many years ago (in the mid 90’s) and have now decided that I rather enjoy not only the industry, but also the people and the whole AV environment. I set up my business in 1993 and a few years later I began creating product brochures for Hi-Fi retailers such as Audio T and Rayleigh Hi-Fi. In 1999 I started 8 years of contracted work with CEDIA helping them with their Expo and since 2007 I have been Sales Manager of the ISE show in Amsterdam. With this background I am fortunate to know many people in the industry which has helped me co-ordinate the work that I have initiated with Together for Short Lives.
Together for Short Lives is the leading UK charity for all children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions and all those who support, love and care for them. They support families, professionals and services, including all 53 children’s hospice services. Their work helps to ensure that children can get the best possible care, wherever and whenever they need it.
In March of 2009 I was watching a programme called The Secret Millionaire and featured on this was a holiday home for terminally ill children and their families in Blackpool. I couldn’t help but be moved by this and rather than simply donate I contacted them to see if we (as the AV industry) could do anything to help. To cut a long story short about 12 months later a well received Cinema log cabin was opened. This success, and understanding of how the cinema was appreciated, led to me contacting Together for Short Lives to see if we could help any of the children’s hospice services that they support. Together For Cinema was born and as of September 2018 we have now completed 21 Cinema Rooms in children’s hospices across the UK and our target is to complete a total of 25 before 2020.
I have been staggered by how the industry has got behind the work that we’re doing. Bearing in mind no money has ever changed hands (all expenses are met by the individuals themselves), the industry has really stepped up to help. Be it PR assistance from Wildwood PR, exposure from our trade media, stock management from AWE, product donations from manufacturers and distributors or assistance from several installers, the industry has really embraced this work and I thank everyone who has played a part in making it happen. A big thank you must also go to my colleagues at CEDIA as their support and willingness to help has been invaluable.
Wow...! Where do I begin? So many companies and individuals have helped that I’m frightened to mention anyone in fear of not mentioning everybody. However, I will risk it and for their installation help I would mention the likes of ET Home Cinema, Kensington Home Technology, KNEKTD, H&H Audio Visual and Wyrestorm.
As for product support there really are too many to mention but those that have supported multiple times include Redline with their Velodyne sub-woofers, RGB Communications with their Middle Atlantic racks, Monitor Audio for speakers, Control4 and Crestron for Control, Kaleidescape, and particularly Epson who very kindly donated 20 projectors!. There are at least another 45 brands that have somehow been involved and my thanks goes to everyone.
The obvious statement to make is that so far we’ve achieved 21 Cinema Room installations in children’s hospices, where seriously ill children and their families can enjoy what we’ve made happen. Making a little bit of difference is a great thing and I know everyone involved has enjoyed their involvement. Beyond the 21 installs I think the industry has found a charitable route that sits comfortably with everyone, as it delivers our everyday work to children and families that need our support. This is reflected by the wonderful support that everyone offers.
To hit the target of 25 cinema rooms in children’s hospice services by 2020, we need to create two or three rooms every year. To achieve this we need continued assistance and to have a bank of installers around the country ready to take on an install and a list of distributors and/or manufacturers ready to donate product. With this in mind please contact me to let me know that you’re interested to help.
With 25 great installations behind us, combined with the industry support that Together For Cinema has generated, it would be great to see the good work continue. We are in discussions with some industry colleagues and organisations to see how we can best 'formalise' the work and secure the future of Together For Cinema. If we can do this our industry can continue to give a little back to those children and families that really need the joy of cinema to bring them together and maybe, just maybe, forget for a moment or two the day to day problems they have to deal so bravely with.
If you feel you can help secure the future of Together For Cinema please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.