You don’t need to be a politics anorak to know 2016 has been a tumultuous year. Needless to say, this has meant a very busy twelve months for SCVO’s policy committee.

We have faced unexpected events, not least Brexit, alongside the growing harsh reality of far-reaching trends such as budget cuts across governments. Reflecting on all that’s happened, it’s hard to believe it was all within 12 months.

For those not in the know, the committee brings together many people from across the sector to provide a key policy steer to SCVO. Most members are elected, with additional places filled by co-options to make sure we have a representative spread of sector interests. We have short biographies of committee members on our website.

Against this chaotic backdrop, the committee has proved itself an invaluable sounding board and source of knowledge for SCVO. Before I go on, I should declare I used to be a member of the committee. I now go to the meetings as an SCVO staff member and write this from both perspectives.

guest speakers have come to inform, and at times challenge, the committee and the wider sector

The committee has provided critical intelligence and support as we navigate through the ever changing political landscape north and south of the border post-EU referendum result. Just as importantly, it also continues to ask tricky questions when they need to be asked, not least around the integration of health and social care.

On top of this, guest speakers have come to inform, and at times challenge, the committee and the wider sector. A great example of this was when Adam Tomkins, Conservative MSP and shadow cabinet secretary, took part in a robust discussion on self-directedness and empowerment.

A personal highlight for me included hearing from the new chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Judith Robertson, on her vision to put human rights front and centre of Scottish political discourse. Promoting human rights has become an increasingly central part of SCVOs policy positions, in no small measure due to the Committee’s insistence.

At times, SCVO’s Policy Committee seem to have functioned as a quasi-support network for like-minded progressives, dismayed at the rise of the alternative right and the continuation of brutal austerity. But that doesn’t tell half the story.

The committee has also offered hope and a positive future direction in an age of great uncertainty. By being a very well-informed critical friend, the Policy Committee has helped to keep SCVO representative of the sector.

This is a constant challenge and the Policy Committee needs to continue to be effective, innovative and representative of the sector. 2017 will be another year of at least one important election in Scotland, at a time of ever-increasing financial pressures on third and public sector alike.

No doubt the new year will also bring a few surprises. However, I’m sure the Committee will prove itself up to the task. If you would like to contribute to SCVOs Policy Committee, or to learn more about it, keep up to date on our website.