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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Chief encounters: Clare Cable on why good things come in small packages

This feature is about 8 years old

The charity head and nurse director of Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland talks third sector, sewing and teenage music taste

What is your morning routine?
Radio 4 sets me up to debate the issues of the day - I attempt conversation with anyone who’ll listen: 1. husband - razor sharp, even at 06:40, 2. dog - always willing to listen, 3. teenagers - entirely pointless to try and engage, but part of my life’s mission.

Why do you work in the third sector?
Because I love being able to be fleet of foot; we don’t have to deal with public sector bureaucracy in order to be innovative.

What are you working on just now?
Creating connections between nurses working in the community, social care and third sector partners to engage meaningfully with Scotland’s communities. And trying to work out how to use resources to promote excellence in community nursing.

Do you prefer working with volunteers or paid employees?
Both – our small team of employees is fantastic and the work is enriched enormously by the contribution of trustees and committee volunteers and especially by our retired Queen’s Nurse volunteers who visit the QNs who are over 80. They bring a directness and generosity of spirit which keeps us smiling and grounded.

Is it better to work for a small charity or a big charity?
At 5ft 3” I work on the basis that small is beautiful.

Chief encounters: Clare Cable on why good things come in small packages

At 5ft 3” I work on the basis that small is beautiful

Claire Cable, Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland

How many hours do you work in a day?
Too many, but I struggle to be boundaried as I love what I do!

What motivates you?
Nursing is about being alongside people at the most extraordinary times of their lives, sharing the journey, the pain, the frustration and the joy; being there at the most private and intimate moments, with families in their homes. Our role is to enable, to listen and support; and speak out when systems work against common sense and compromise the dignified and compassionate care that well supported nurses are able to deliver.

Does charity begin at home?
Yes. To me caritas is about that wellspring of generosity which has to flow from within, but ask those who live in my home, and they’ll tell you I’m very much a work in progress!

How do you inspire people?
By sharing the stories that inspire me, of nurses who continue (sometimes against the odds) to think out of the box and do extraordinary things every day.

Have you got thoughts on what you will do when you retire?
I will sew. I have a passion for textiles and there’s nothing I like more, on a rainy afternoon, than getting out the sewing machine.

What would you tell your 18-year-old self?
I love all those wise 12 step sayings. Day at a time. Progress not perfection.

Describe yourself as a drink?
Half a lager - a short blonde!

What’s your favourite album?
Having teenagers is great for keeping my musical tastes contemporary. Nothing beats Palestrina, but I really like London Grammar. Such a mellow, poignant sound.

Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?
Brian Edward Cox, the physicist. I am a secret maths and physics geek. Aged six, my son had to describe me for school; he wrote “my mum likes tea and algebra”. Glad he wasn’t writing my profile for!

Clare Cable is chief executive and nurse director of Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland



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