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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.

Blank page - what will 2015 bring?

This opinion piece is about 9 years old
 

Charlotte Bray believes charities don't have to throw out the old to bring in a fresh new year in 2015

For some there is nothing more exciting than a blank page. For others there is nothing more terrifying. Even typing this title reminded me of school exams.

Whether it is going to a party where you don’t know many people, starting a major project, or writing an article, there’s a nervous anticipation about fresh starts.

But before we embark on 2015, it is worth taking a look back. For me, 2014 has been eventful. I’ve moved house, completed my role on two committees and used the spare time available to, well, to join two more committees. However, many people are less fortunate than me and will be approaching this holiday season with the recognition that someone important is missing. For others there will be concern for money, for work, for house, for family.

Charlotte Bray

In the end what inspires me when faced with the dreaded blank page are three words: passion, creativity and community

Charlotte Bray

For everyone excited about 2015, there will be someone who is worried, sad or afraid.

Here’s a little story for you. Every year, when visiting my parents, I climb up the apple tree in their garden to reach those apples that picking sticks can’t reach. What I realised this year, as the wind blew and I went to put my foot on a branch that no longer existed, is that I needed to account for change. I’m older (and perhaps heavier) than I was. The tree is older too. The old adage ‘if you always do what you did, you always get what you got,’ isn’t strictly true. I also realised, by the way, that often the highest, shiniest apple has already been eaten by a slug. There’s a moral there somewhere.

Two things this week have made me proud to be in the charity world. At the SCVO parliamentary reception we had three very different speeches about social justice. Our hosting MSP spoke of the dream that one day places like Glasgow Mission, with all their excellent work, might not need to exist. The aim of every charity is, ultimately, to work itself out of a job. For me, even if we remove the need for charities altogether, the world would be less rich without the people I meet through my working and volunteering. And to continue the theme, charities are all about fresh starts. We help people move to a new city or country, support people through unexpected difficulties or enable them to cope with life’s growing pressures.

My last few jobs have involved building appeals and start-ups so I’m always coming in at a point of flux. Halfway through my latest appeal I realise, yet again, that however much you plan (we know how much I love a spreadsheet; I have one for my Christmas shopping) there’s a point where you realise a fresh perspective is required.

My second proud moment links with this. As part of my thinking outside the box because lots of the usual things aren’t working approach to fundraising, I’ve been involved in designed a swanky new fundraising tool for my appeal.

Thinking back through history, we picked forty faces of people that have changed the world in some way and put them on a board together. Spanning from ancient Greece to modern Scotland and crossing the boundaries of race, gender, age and background, the assembled faces were hugely inspiring. Summing up the achievement of someone like, say, Mandela, in one sentence was a challenge. It was also humbling. Whether it was changing the way we think, fighting for environmental justice, making leaps of scientific discovery or campaigning for peace and equality, everyone on that board had terrific passion for their cause. Some lost their lives pursuing it.

In the end what inspires me when faced with the dreaded blank page are three words: passion, creativity and community. All are over-used, but all still have the strength to change worlds. Passion for a cause will drive us on through fear and cynicism. Creativity will help us think around those significant barriers we face. And community, or as I like to put it, friends, will support us in achieving all this. Once assembled, those forty faces were like a Sergeant Pepper album of world change.

So whether we face 2015 with fear or excitement, let’s look back with pride. We may not be a policy maker or world leader, we may not make the forty faces board, but we can hold our heads high alongside them.

 

Comments

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Elsie Riley
about 9 years ago
Another inspiring blog- thanks Charlotte!
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