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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.

Rhona Cunnigham’s journey from sewing jeans to running an award-winning charity

This feature is over 8 years old

She left school as soon as she got the chance and had no ambition. Now she's head of Fife Gingerbread - one of the most successful charities in the country. Rhona Cunningham reveals why she loves her job

What time do you wake up?

Stupid o’clock in the summer – I need to buy a blackout blind.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work?

Blinds open, computer on, kettle on, music on.

What are you working just now?

End of year returns, organisational structures, staff developments, project developments, cuddling folk. Too many different things and doing nothing properly.

Is lunch a five-minute sandwich at your desk or do you find time for yourself?

I like to reward my sacrifices that involve the five-minute energy bar and have lunch out now and again – preferably with good company.

What makes a good day at work?

Stories of folk making progress because we could help, and a happy squad.

What turns you into the office Victor Meldrew?

Usually when things go wrong. I don’t like refusal letters and computers that don’t play ball.

How did you end up in your job?

It’s not the best reason really – and I should say something rich, meaningful and awful clever but the truth is I knew someone who was applying and I felt she talked a good game but didn’t deliver. I didn’t know if I could do it at all, in fact I didn’t really understand what the third sector was, I just thought I’d give it a bash – what an admission!

What makes a good day at work? Stories of folk making progress because we could help

Should there be a cap on charity chief executive pay?

Don’t think that will ever affect me – so no fussy.

Is it better to work for a big charity or a small charity?

A small one with a big punch. I think some of the bigger ones are caught up in their own red tape and for me that’s a big loss.

Have you made your mind up about the independence referendum?

Sure have!

Would we all be better off if charities did more in our society?

Yes I think so – I think we are pretty lucky in Scotland to have such a strong sector.

Would your 16-year-old self be impressed with where you are now?

I would say so. I left school the first chance I got and worked for six years as a machinist making jeans. I had no ambition and hated every minute of the work, but I loved my friends. I think I’ve been possessed over the years – I don’t now where this person came from!

How do you relax?

Friends, meals, drinks, travel.

Armani or Primark?

Both are good – no such thing as bad labels!

Who would you invite to dinner: Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?

Who? Can I just invite Kevin Bridges?



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