Duncan Dunlop will leave Who Cares? Scotland in August, having been at the forefront of the fight to secure rights for care experienced people
The chief executive of a Scottish care charity is set to move on.
Who Cares? Scotland chief executive, Duncan Dunlop, has announced that he will be leaving the charity in August after nine years in charge.
Dunlop has been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of care experienced people, and played a key role in eventually securing the Independent Care Review.
“Being in charge of Who Cares? Scotland for almost nine years has been the privilege of my life,” he said. “I have learned so much from the bright, dynamic and brilliant care experienced people who have let me into their lives. We have shared tremendous highs and lows together, whether we were camping in a field or campaigning in the corridors of parliament. Care experienced people have irrevocably driven our shared resolve to pursue radical improvements for the care community. It has been an honour to be alongside them.
“I recognise that the landscape has fundamentally changed since I took over at Who Cares? Scotland. I’m proud of what we have achieved together and I think that now is the right time for someone else to take the lead.
“Talking about the oppression that care experienced people face, exploring how intention differs from reality and highlighting the moments in time when individuals are let down with grave consequences has not always been comfortable or welcome. It has, however, been vital."
In 2013, Dunlop presented with a group of care experienced people at what was then the ADSW conference. The team used their platform to talk about the necessity for love to become the driving force behind the care of children and young people. In 2018, Who Cares? Scotland organised the first Rally for Love, a public demonstration that was joined by hundreds of people and garnered headlines across the country.
Earlier in his tenure, he worked with colleagues across the sector and secured changes to the law that meant care experienced people being legally entitled to stay in care until the age of 21 and access support beyond that. In the following years, he would oversee calls for a range of changes to the immediate support that care experienced people are entitled – this resulted in care experienced people receiving educational bursaries rather than loans and exemptions from Council Tax.
Dunlop has made change internally too. He worked with the board to constitute Who Cares? Scotland as a membership organisation for people of all ages; created a work traineeship programme that gave 80+ young people their first job; and established a campaigning arm at Who Cares? Scotland that would go on to call for an independent review of the care system.
A youth worker at heart, Dunlop created the Who Cares? Scotland Summer Camp in 2014. The annual event would go on to bring hundreds of care experienced people from across Scotland together, allowing them to connect with other people who grew up in care. He forged relationships with organisations representing care experienced people across the UK and Ireland, creating the 5 Nations 1 Voice programme. And in 2015/2016, Duncan was a member of the New Zealand care review. The review transformed New Zealand’s care and youth justice services, delivering over a billion dollars (NZ) of extra investment to ensure that young people grow up in loving homes.
In his time as chief executive, Dunlop has led the organisation through a significant growth period, with staff numbers increasing from 45 to 130, and income growing from £1.5 million to £5 million. In 2018, the organisation was named Charity of the Year at the UK Charity Awards.
He added: “I am leaving a talented team who will continue to lead this essential and quality organisation. They will further support and enable this unique and precious movement of care experienced people to go from strength to strength.
“I may be stepping down as the leader of the organisation, but I will never leave the movement. I am very proud to count many members of the care community my friends for life. Thank you for your trust and friendship. Thank you to all who have so freely given support, advice, friendship and funds over the years. It really mattered and will continue to do so, as Who Cares? Scotland continues to champion the best people in world – our care family.”
Ryan McCuaig, chair of Who Cares? Scotland, paid tribute to Dunlop.
He said: “On behalf of the board of Who Cares? Scotland, I’d like to thank Duncan for nine years of hard work, dedication and progress for our organisation and movement. Duncan had a bold vision when he joined Who Cares? Scotland and has continually been guided by the principle that care experienced people deserve a lifetime of equality, respect and love. He has brought us all such a long way and he is owed an immense gratitude.
“Duncan’s leadership pushed boundaries and broke new ground. He continually demanded more for care experienced people, pushed for love in the care system to become a mainstream conversation and oversaw the development of a movement of people with lived experience who spoke directly to those in power; resulting in several changes to legislation and the recent Care Review.
“As trustees we are grateful to Duncan for his immeasurable contribution. The board have approved a restructure of responsibilities amongst the senior management team and are actively working to put in place a process to recruit Duncan’s successor. We hope to attract candidates who have the values, vision and expertise to take Who Cares? Scotland forward and build on the many advances achieved for care experienced people during Duncan’s tenure.”