Well, after almost a fifth of a century, I’ll be leaving SCVO – and what a ride it’s been! Welfare rights activists defending the most vulnerable in Parliament. 200,000 people circling around Edinburgh to march against poverty. Work colleagues arriving, making their mark, then going on to great things – all these moments I’ll remember forever.
My SCVO journey began in early 2001, when the voluntary sector was way off the political map, its spirit and drive yet to be discovered by the young Scottish Parliament.
My first job was very internally focused, as a young researcher, to work out the metrics of our sector and how we could measure its impact. When OSCR came into being, I supported Government to get a grip on the scale and scope of the sector, its sensitivities and strengths.
Over time, our sector’s status as a major social player grew, and by the mid-2000s, having rediscovered our identity as a civil society force for change, we hosted the international civil society extravaganza, the CIVICUS World Assemblies in 2006-8, where I met many fascinating and inspiring people from around the world – a major highlight for me.
Then came austerity, welfare cuts and the divergence of policy with Westminster. I was engaged in major campaigns which aimed to protect human rights, rethink the economy and challenge the attack on the voice of charities. When many went silent, we stayed strong and bold, and kept the field open for the diverse voices our sector works with.
My final gambit at SCVO was to bring home the big global opportunities; open government, Sustainable Development Goals and the data revolution. This brought a renewed focus to my work, and re-energised many of the agendas I’d been working on, and continues to do so.
I will miss everyone at my SCVO home terribly, as much as I am seriously excited to be moving into the environmental protection world, where I will be directing external affairs for the amazing Scottish Wildlife Trust. Thanks to all of you for encouraging, inspiring and challenging me to grow as a person and as a civil society activist during my time at SCVO.