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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: Maria McGill on charity, love and dolly mixtures

This feature is almost 9 years old

The charity chief discusses CHAS, her retirement plans and her love of the Sound of Music

What is your morning routine?
I could be working in one of our hospices, Rachel House in Kinross or Robin House in Balloch or in any number of other locations across Scotland. It really depends on what the day has in store for me, but more often than not it will involve an early start, between 5am and 7am. I’ll get up, shower, have some breakfast with my husband and then get myself ready to leave. If I can have a scan of the papers before I go I will and I always check Twitter and my emails too! I’ll normally listen to BBC Radio Scotland on my journey and think about the day ahead.

Why do you work in the third sector?
I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember, gradually and quite naturally, my career gravitated towards palliative care and the third sector. I've worked in the independent hospice sector since 1992 and love it. Independence, creativity, entrepreneurial thinking and the people we serve are at our heart.

What are you working on just now?
At the moment the whole organisation is putting a big focus on budgets and funding for 2015/16. We’re also working closely with the NHS on the recruitment of 2 new consultant paediatricians and we’ve recently implemented a new nursing structure so we’re continually reviewing and assessing this to ensure it’s meeting the needs of families using our services. Finding age appropriate care and support for young adults is a UK wide issue. I’ve been working closely with our hospice staff and transition team to ensure the young adults using CHAS services are fully supported, know what their options are and that the experience is as smooth as possible. I’m also involved in some exciting research and working on collaborations with other organisations too so it’s all go!

How many hours do you normally work in a day?
No two days are the same so it’s really hard to put a number on it as it’s easy to lose track of time. Having said that, they say choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

I think if you want to inspire people, you have to challenge them

Do you prefer working with volunteers or paid employees?
With 280 paid staff and 900 volunteers that's easy - I work with both every day and the vital work of CHAS needs both.

Is it better to work for a big charity or a small charity?
Neither one is better. Right now, I love working with CHAS – Scotland’s only provider of hospice services for babies, children, young people and their families.

What motivates you?

Does charity begin at home?
Charity, Caritas ... Love for others is at the heart of what we do in Hospice care and it’s something we all should aspire to achieve, especially at home and in our hearts.

How do you inspire people?
I just be myself. I like to tell my story and share from my own experiences. I think if you want to inspire people, you have to challenge them. I’m always asking questions, always pushing for more and I’m not afraid to try something new or encourage others to do so. Taking a genuine interest in the people around you is one of the most inspiring things you can do.

Have you got thoughts on what you will do when you retire?
I haven’t had a great deal of time to think about it if I’m honest. In an ideal world I’d spend quality time with my husband, take the time to travel and experience more of the world, volunteer, maybe even join a choir. I’m also passionate about going back to university to study literature so that’s an option I’d like to explore too.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Be yourself. Follow your dreams.

Describe yourself as a drink…
It would have to be a glass of Bollinger, sophisticated, bubbly and best matched with dolly mixtures.

What’s your favourite album / film?
I’d have to say The Sound of Music, it’s a classic.

Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?
Both really… an activist / passionate performer and a gifted intellectual scientist - What's to choose?

Maria McGill is the chief executive of Children's Hospice Association Scotland



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