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Reflections on being a Board Member

It has been nearly 3 years since I joined the Rowan Alba Board (I joined in January 2019, just before everything covidy kicked off!) and I can’t believe how the time has flown and how much I have learned and gained in the process.

I remember rocking up to meet Helen for the first time at the old head office, not quite knowing what to expect…well what can I say…Helen has a way of ‘seeing’ folk and her question ‘what are you good at?’ was typical Helen, straight to the point and I immediately thought, yep this could be something different, fresh and challenging.  From that very first meeting, my sense of Rowan Alba was one of shared values, ‘treating others as you’d expect to be treated’ comes to mind, something that was very important to my parents as I was growing up and is an anchor for me now. 

My career has included working in communities like Leith, Niddrie and Pilton to improve social housing, this hasn’t been easy as everyone, whether architect, planner, contractor, housing association folk or council staff, all had different motivations and values, and unfortunately, these often clashed and our wishes and hopes about each project never quite reached its full potential.  This ‘watered down’ result impacted the lives of the residents who also had their own aspirations, this was difficult to accept and is something I have reflected a lot on over the years…but what has this got to do with Rowan Alba?

I recently visited Thorntree St. Thank you to Emma, Declan, the young man who invited me around his lovely flat, the chap who talked to me about his memories of Tranent (my mum and dad are from there) and even to the quiet gentleman who likes a toastie and was offered and made one by Anastasiya, even though she was clearly rushed of her feet. The respect and care the team show each resident was clear to see.

I also visited Stramullion.  Thank you to Demi and Leanne for taking the time to talk with me and show me their lovely garden, and also to the young woman who proudly showed me pictures of her as a child (very cute) with her grandad that she clearly loved to bits, again, a sense of pride, care and generosity about the work that the team do there– perhaps I was there on a calm day but there was a real sense of comfort, ‘a safe haven, in that place.

I know I didn’t meet all the staff on my visits, but thank you to you all, for what you know, what you do and most importantly how you do it.

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