The Leadership Team
Helen Carlin CEO
I developed my interest in housing working with the City of Edinburgh Council, then five years with three very different housing associations. After that I spent four years as housing and policy manager at Age Concern Scotland where my interest in helping homeless older people developed.
In 1998 I was seconded by the Novas Ouvertures group to set up a new company in Scotland which was to become Rowan Alba Association. As services development manager, I established and set up several new services, and in 2006 set up Rowan Alba Limited as a limited company to take over the staff and services and be fully independent.
In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my son, cooking and music and have recently discovered the joys of fishing, which I hope to get better at.
Kirstie McGregor, Head of Income Generation
I have been with Rowan Alba Limited since 2004. I began working with the company as a support worker in the Stramullion project.
Until recently I was the Coordinator of the Follow Me service which involves managing a small team of staff in delivering a high quality support service to homeless men and women who have experienced domestic abuse.
During my time with the company I have completed my SVQ Health and Social Care Level 3 and A1 Assessors Award. This has given me the opportunity to become involved with assessing candidates, Rowan Alba becoming an accredited SQA centre, and able to deliver SVQ awards in-house and also to other organizations.
Ann Logan Manager, Thorntree
I started as a support worker with Rowan Alba in May 2003. In January 2006 I accepted a secondment to act as manager at the Stramullion Project and am currently Service Manager for Thorntree Street.
I have previously worked as a volunteer with Homestart who provide a befriending service to parents with children 5yrs and under. I currently work as a volunteer with the Samaritans and have been with them since 2002, I also have involvement with the Prison Team and have so for 3 years, training prisoners to provide a listening service within the prison.
During my time with Rowan Alba, I have gained SVQ levels 3 & 4, A1 Assessor and a Management Diploma.
Tracey Stewart Volunteers Co-ordinator
I have worked for Rowan Alba now for 10 years moving up from being a support worker at Thorntree Street to managing a service that started from a small idea in my support and supervision. The management placed great trust and belief that I could take all I have learned from working with such a vulnerable and stigmatised group and shape a new service directly from their opinions and aspirations. With the support of the Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership and NHS Lothian a new service was born. The Community Alcohol Related Damage Service. Our service users wanted real conversations with real people who could take their own ego out of the situation and work with them on the things that mattered to them most. Loneliness is still not recognised as it should be as a major contributing factor in addictions in our society today.
We now have over 30 volunteers who visit isolated individuals once a week and start off by simply getting to know them and working out what motivates and inspires them. Together the relationship works to achieve staggering results in improving psychological health and well being, a reduction in chaos and an increase in overall stability. It’s a hard game to play when many people would rather forget these individuals and blame them for society’s problems. We provide a platform for them to inform and educate those around them in tackling one of Scotland’s growing problems. Alcohol Harm.
As a resident in Leith I sit on the healthy Leith action group and welcome all our service users to inform the practice at the heart of our communities. Our next step is working with the Scottish Parliament’s outreach service who help people and organisations to understand how best to engage with their parliament. The work is rewarding and to be involved with such a vibrant diverse selection of service users and volunteers will no doubt see me continuing to work another 10 years with an organisation who truly believes in supporting its staff, volunteers and service users simply to be the best person they can be.
Declan McKiernan Team Leader Thorntree, SVQ Assessor
I started working in the homeless sector at the outset of the Rough Sleepers Initiative Cold Weather Shelters in London in 1991. I moved to Edinburgh in ’98 where I’ve worked chiefly with the Old Town Housing Association and the Homeless Outreach Project in Street Outreach, Addictions and Intensive Support.
My Senior Support Worker role at Thorntree Street started in 2014.
Dannielle Moyes Team Leader Perth, SVQ Assessor
Ewan Law, Training and Learning Coordinator
Having worked in the fields of Mental Health, Addictions and Homelessness over the last 8 years I have found myself a passionate advocate of person centered working, utilising a Coaching approach to achieve this.
Whether i’m communicating with people who use our services, staff, our students, volunteers, or even just visitors to the organisation, I always come from an asset based standpoint.
My professional interests are Trauma, Addictions and minimising the power imbalance in supportive relationships.
Nicky Whalen, Team Leader Stramullion
During this period I have participated in lots of training, such as Coaching, mental health, first aid and I have recently just completed an SVQ 4 in Health and Social care, all this has been beneficial and given much more of an insight into my day to day practice.
The Board Of Directors
Maggie Dawson Chair
Maggie qualified as a solicitor and worked at a senior level in both banking legal departments and private practice. Her specialisms included commercial property, contract and banking law. When she retired from private practice she felt that she should cease being a taker and should become a giver. Her background and training lead her to being objective and analytical in relation to problems.
In the outside world she is a music buff, an avid reader, a lover of foreign travel – never happier than when combining music and travel!
Nial Gemmell Director
Nial is a career banker who over the course of his career has carried a number of roles across different areas of banking. This has included specialising in law and for the last 15 years structuring finance solutions for customers in the infrastructure, real estate and energy sectors. Nial was keen to use the experience he’d gained whilst working with another charity through Pilotlight so after meeting Helen and hearing about the fantastic work Rowan Alba carries out was delighted to be accepted as a board member.
Outside work Nial is fortunate to live by the seaside with his wife and daughter. Whilst his lifelong passion has been golf his daughter’s swimming career is gradually taking over his spare time so in an effort to stay out of swimming pool cafes Nial is now a qualified swim coach (although his daughter can obviously beat him in the pool!)
Russell Eadie Director
Russell is a partner at Morisons LLP in Edinburgh and is an employment law specialist with 12 years experience acting for employers and employees. Prior to joining the Board, Russell was a legal advisor to Rowan Alba and gained extensive insight into the operation of the organisation and the challenging issues that throws up on a regular basis. That experience made Russell appreciate the huge effort put in by staff to make Rowan Alba a success and his involvement with the Board is his way of saying “thank you” to them for a job well done.
Away from work, Russell is a very keen golfer and also spends much of his time training for and running half-marathons (on the basis that he finds running too boring to do a whole marathon!)
Diane Fairlie Clarke
Retired, married with three children and three grandchildren, Diane has had a varied working life starting out training to be a nurse, going on to to be a computer programmer, systems analyst, car fleet manager, and premises administrator.
After a temporary stint at the Scottish Parliament, Diane finished her working life as the Office Manager at Rowan Alba.
Charles Common Director
Charlie has recently joined the Rowan Alba Board, after a career with Lothian and Borders Police. Originally from Coldstream, he lives in Ratho and is married with three children. He is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen and joined the Police in 1979. During his service he worked in many parts of the Force area, including Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders and held a variety of senior positions. Having been involved in major operations and events, he describes himself as a good problem solver, with a wealth of experience in crisis management.
In January of 2011 Charlie discovered that there is ‘life after the Police’ and he became Head of Security for the consortium building the new Forth Crossing. Away from work he is an avid football fan and takes a keen interest in keep fit. As a Board member he is simply looking to make a contribution to a very worthwhile cause.
Fin Wycherley Director
I work with charities and social enterprises, as well as small business and entrepreneurs, across the world to develop powerful online marketing strategies that get the right message in front of the right people at the right time (and on the right social media platforms).
As well as being on the board, my team regularly provide pro-bono marketing guidance to make sure the right people hear about the incredible work, passion and care that goes into every aspect of the Rowan Alba experience. All members of the Rowan Alba team, from top to bottom, have an amazing understanding and compassion for their end users and always go above and beyond to find sustainable solutions for individuals rather than putting a metaphorical sticking plaster on broken legs.
I see my role as liberating the Rowan Alba team from worries over funding shortfalls in order to continue to provide a fantastic service with robust business and marketing systems in place.
Meet Our Volunteers
Elly Yule Senior Volunteer
A senior volunteer’s role description should in my mind incorporate:
- being a good listener
- full of encouragement
- flexibility with suggestions for ways forward
- supportive of ideas and thoughts
- negotiate a different path when deemed necessary
Reading over my wee poem(written a year or so ago) I feel it says what I basically think for all volunteers in varying degrees!
V a vital, valuable and varied venture
O organised, open minded, open ended observations and to facilitate optimum ‘opporchancities’!
L liaison and linked learning for a legacy
U unburden to be understood and upbeat
N negotiate and navigate needs to nurture
T thoughtful and thought provoking tangible timescale tonic
E empower expectations to equip and enrich
E enthusiastically and energetically engage, educate and encourage
R respect, realistic, resourceful and REWARDING