A window on Scottish politics

One of the interesting things about my job is the window it gives on to some of the machinery that drives Scotland. With all the tumultuous events of the past couple of weeks, the view through this window has been particularly fascinating recently.

First off was the SNP conference in Aberdeen. Indyref2 had just been proposed, the Prime Minster had responded, and passions were running high.  I was there to take part in a fringe event with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, talking about the experiences of some of Leuchie House’s guests who receive Self-Directed Support. This is the funding the government provides for people who need social care to be able to live independent lives.  

The concept is good. It gives people choices over how their care is managed and for some it works really well.  For others however, including many of Leuchie’s guests living with long term health conditions, they are often too unwell and fatigued to find the strength and resilience needed to navigate the system. If it is to achieve its potential, much more support needs to be given to help people benefit fully from it.

Case made, it was on to speak at the annual members’ day of the Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations.  Another window.

Bringing together the heads of Scotland’s charities, concerns in the room included reduced funding, tightening regulations and the uncertainties around Brexit. My topic was leadership and my theme “As soon as you think you have it nailed, you’ve failed!” The need to continually adapt in order to survive and thrive seemed especially pertinent in light of recent political events.

Next it was Leuchie’s reception at the Scottish Parliament, celebrating our first five years as an independent charity and our new partnership with Queen Margaret University. On our way to Holyrood, the news came in of the tragic events at Westminster.  Fully expecting our event to be cancelled, the Scottish Parliament was resolute: it was business as usual. Sponsored by Iain Gray, whose enduring support is a real asset to Leuchie, it went ahead as planned helping to ensure respite breaks are firmly on the political agenda.

Wonder what next week will bring?

Mairi O'Keefe, Chief Executive, Leuchie House. Published in The East Lothian Courier, 30 March 2017.