Fiona Duncan talks change, hope and the Foundation’s new Deputy CEO

We live in times of fast and significant change. Next week people will go to the polls in the UK General Election; this almost exactly a year after the vote to leave the EU and with the question of a second Scottish independence referendum never far from the centre of the debate. We have yet to understand what the impact of Brexit will be, but all forecasts suggest the highest costs will likely be borne by those least able to weather them. In the face of such great challenges and uncertainty it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

I was lucky enough last week to be among those who heard from President Barack Obama when he visited Edinburgh. One of President Obama’s most enduring and inspiring messages has always been that every one of us has the capacity to create change; that it takes hard work and dogged perseverance but that hope achieves far more than cynicism every time. His remarks last week were deeply rooted in his values and it was clear that these will form part of the compass that guides the newly established Obama Foundation.

The belief that positive change is possible is a core principle of the Foundation’s new strategy which will be launched later this year (along with our new name and brand). We have learned that the most powerful way to enable change is to work alongside others, be that individuals, communities, other funders or charities or policy makers. The new strategy will make more explicit our focus on partnership. We are already developing a number of conversations around issues where gaps exist and where collaboration offers a way to unlock resources, develop practice and contribute to positive change. The voice of lived experience is increasingly at the heart of our approach, and I am pleased that we are taking forward Everyone Has a Story with young people and supporting them to create the change they want to see.

To support delivery of our new strategy I am delighted to be welcoming Carolyn Sawers to the team as Deputy CEO. Carolyn is a well kent face to many in the Scottish voluntary sector. She has worked for several years with the Big Lottery Fund and brings a strong understanding of many of the greatest challenges being faced by people in Scotland, along with a clear commitment to the Foundation’s mission and values.

I look forward to working with her, the rest of the team at the Foundation and all those who share our ambitions for a fairer Scotland as we navigate uncertain times with a collective determination to achieving deep and lasting positive change.