I came to working in the third sector the long way round. After close to 30 years of finance and admin roles in a variety of settings my last 5 years combined my usual role and representing the company in the community. For years I had yearned for a job where I could genuinely make a difference, where it mattered if I went to work that day and wasn’t just about making money for other people. From the company’s point of view I might not have been the best community champion in the respect that I didn’t get them in the paper as often as I’m sure they’d have liked but when I took on the role it was on the condition that I wouldn’t just do the ‘fluffy’ stuff and providing things like shoes for a child walking to school in their gym shoes in the winter wasn’t something I was going to advertise because I believed their safety and dignity was more important.
Having left that role I kept in touch with many of the groups that I’d helped in my community role and following redundancy a few of years ago I set up a small craft business providing workshops which I loved doing but the desire to make that difference was still there.
In mid-2019 I was invited to attend the AGM of women’s aid little realising that I would meet 2 people there who would change my working life completely. Within weeks I was working with RLP and became their first paid employee as HR & Operations Manager and after a couple of months I also had the role of the Coordinator of the Clacks Violence Against Women Partnership (VAWP).
My role as VAWP coordinator was a way to speak for the women who have no voice. Violence against women and children is truly heinous and as bad as the reported statistics are, it’s a crime that goes unreported for many women and children. For too many women they can’t access help until they reach crisis point and I strongly believe that they deserve better than that. I stepped back from the VAWP coordinator role after 2 years as I can affect change for more women and children through my policy work and supporting individuals and groups to make their voices heard.
Likewise, I still find myself challenging the attitudes towards individuals with lived experience in professional settings. Having the voice of lived experience when planning services and training is absolutely essential however too often those individuals are put in the position of having to tell their traumatic and intensely personal story to justify their place at the table. I believe this is completely wrong, if someone has relevant lived experience (and the required professional qualification and experience) they shouldn’t have to tell their story for others to decide if their experience is sufficient for them to be listened to.
I continue to make time to volunteer and am the treasurer of Central Safe Drive Stay Alive and Alloa’s Air Cadets.
There’s still much work ahead before we can honestly say that Clacks is fully trauma informed and the safest place to live for women and children, but I finally feel that I have a career that might just change things for the better in Clacks.