GUEST POST – Pat Armstrong of ACOSVO on the referendum

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Pat Armstrong, Chief Executive, ACOSVO

Pat Armstrong, Chief Executive, ACOSVO

One week ahead of our Independence Referendum – Third Sector Question Time event we asked our event partners: ACOSVO, Co-operatives UK and Social Enterprise Scotland to set out their views and thoughts for the social economy sector looking ahead to 18th September.  Below, Pat Armstrong, Chief Executive of ACOSVO shares her thoughts:

“The status quo is not an option”.  A phrase we hear a lot lately in Scotland.  Most are in agreement that no matter what the outcome of the Referendum, more change will be heading our way.  In partnership with the Carnegie UK Trust, ACOSVO have delivered a series of events over the last year to help Third Sector leaders consider their preparedness for constitutional change, whatever that may be.  Also to consider what the implications may be for their organisations, their beneficiaries and the sector as a whole.  The final event brought together leaders of UK organisations with their “Chief Executives in Scotland” to raise awareness of the issues, environment and culture in Scotland at the moment and how we can be best prepared to serve our beneficiaries, no matter what changes are heading our way.

One of the main points that came from these events was the importance of having a “safe space” where leaders could enjoy peer support and good practice sharing while able to discuss and debate issues which would otherwise require much careful thought and wording before being shared.

What if you have a very strong view on from a personal perspective, but organisationally you have to stay neutral – how does that square with your authenticity as a leader? How can we be engaged and neutral at the same time? What if your funding comes from the Scottish Government, or a local authority of a different political persuasion?

The sessions gave the opportunity to hear about good practice from across the sector. How do you use the referendum as an opportunity to raise the awareness of your vision of the sort of Scotland you would like to see for your beneficiaries? How can you be clear about having a neutral organisational stance and communicate that to the wider world? How do you ensure your beneficiaries feel informed, engaged and involved going forward?

One of the ways we have helped share some of the learning from these sessions is through a “ten steps for charities and the #indyref” publication – see below for synopsis and click here for detail.

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