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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: We need to rediscover the meaning of charity says SCIAF’s Alistair Dutton

This feature is almost 8 years old

Alistair Dutton, director of Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) on dreams, pot plants and snowboarding

What time do you get up and what’s your morning routine?
Alarm goes off at 7:10 – 20 – 30 – can I get away with snoozing it again...? Then a quick shower, bowl of granola, fruit juice and tea, followed by a quiet hour. I love cycling to work, getting the blood flowing and some air in my lungs.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at the office?
Say hi to whoever’s around and make a list of what I want to get done, before I get lost in the inbox. I then think about getting a cup of tea but before I know it I’m totally absorbed. When I start to think about lunch… it’s usually around 4pm!

What turns you into the office Victor Meldrew?
Jobsworths! I can’t imagine using the argument ‘It’s not my job’ – it’s pretty inhuman. I believe in going the extra mile to help people, we’re working together, and should help each other when we can. Saying it’s not my job totally breaks that down. I think it’s important to set the right approach at the top and then hopefully others will be more open to everything that comes their way.

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
Follow your dreams! And to thine own self be true. I’ve always followed my dreams and never once regretted it. I know others who had the chance, didn’t and regret it now. It’s too easy to let life get in the way sometimes.

I have an absolute conviction that everyone in the world deserves a decent life and access to the essential things they need

What do you procrastinate over?
Systems, procedures and processes (but don’t tell our finance team). Obviously you’ve got to get to grips with them but they just don’t fire me up. It’s great that others love them - every team needs to have a good balance of blue-sky-thinkers and those who look after the important detail.

What motivates you?
Seeing the hope and joy of the people we serve at SCIAF and how what we do really makes a difference for them. I have an absolute conviction that everyone in the world deserves a decent life and access to the essential things they need. Helping people living in terrible poverty in poor countries to grow food, earn some money for essentials like clothes and medicines, or getting emergency aid to people caught up in wars and natural disasters inspires me every day. I never feel like I have to try to work hard because I always get a lot more out than I put in. It’s a great privilege to work for SCIAF.

What does your perfect weekend look like?
I don’t really have a ‘perfect weekend’. I love spending time with my wife pottering at home (we work apart during the week), sailing on the waves, snowboarding in the mountains, working in the garden and generally spending time in the great outdoors.

If you were your boss would you like you?
I hope so but there’s no accounting for taste! I do enjoy a beer with many of my previous ones.

Is this a step on the rung to success or your final destination?
It’s not the destination that counts but the journey.

Which do you prefer Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin?
Facebook. The stone is lost below the surface too quickly in Twitter (with not many ripples on the surface) and LinkedIn’s too earnest. If I put something up on Facebook I still need to be concise but there’s more space to frame what I want to say. I also get more views and responses.

Would we all be better off if charities did more in our society?
We’d all be much better off if we rediscovered the meaning of charity – caritas – and understood how to live that loving concern and tenderness for one another better. It’s not so much whether charities do it, but that we are all motivated to do what we can to help those who need a hand. The important thing is that people are cared for – how it’s done is less important.

Who would you invite to dinner Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?
Theatre is my wife’s passion, so it would definitely be Brian (Denis) Cox…



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