A mighty fine patchwork quilt and the safest country in the world

In the third of this series of blogs introducing the business world of Aberdeen to the work of ACVO, its Third Sector Interface, our next colleague is Susan Morrison, Partnership Officer for the last five years. Susan was born in Aberdeen, left at 18 months and came back 48 years later where she worked first at Cornhill Hospital on a welfare rights project. Susan says “I wake up any morning wanting to go to my job at ACVO. Why? It always comes down to people doesn’t it? The people I work with, the people I meet. The understanding that it has given me of how, below the radar, a city organises itself - from how bins are emptied to how decisions are made. I love to experience the professionalism of colleagues, the skill sets, knowledge and experience of them all across the Third Sector and its partners – it makes a mighty fine patchwork quilt. We would love to tell you more about it.

My role is in Community Planning which is the formal process that brings public sector agencies together with the third sector and with citizens to plan and deliver services. ACVO enables the Third Sector to connect and contribute to the agreed Strategic aims of the City of Aberdeen. ACVO’s role at such tables means that we have an understanding which can help businesses link their CSR strategies to identified needs and ensure that their CSR activities make an impact and solve real problems. One aspect of my Community Planning role is supporting the Community Justice Third Sector Forum and representing it at the strategic level. Scotland has a National Strategy for Community Justice with aims including reducing offending and the harm that it causes. Community Justice involves organisations across the sectors including health, housing ,social work, third sector as well as the police and courts. ACVO works closely with Community Justice Scotland (the national agency responsible) who want to make ours the safest country in the world. We are involved in work in Aberdeen that support families of prisoners, prisoners on release, alternatives to custody, support for young people and people with learning disabilities and employability.

ACVO has an Affiliates scheme for private sector businesses who want to do business with the third sector and I was pleased to speak recently at one of the four or five free networking and information events provided each year. As part of our Community Justice work we are looking for employers to offer opportunities for people with criminal records and all ideas are welcome – not just jobs, apprenticeships or placements. We want to get over the barriers and open the conversation. We want to talk with employers about positive recruitment policy and developing statements on how they treat people with criminal records. There is in particular new legislation coming on how young people are treated. We want employers to take their heads out of the sand.”

Susan facilitates multiple fora and networks on criminal justice, mental health and other key needs of our city, each having 15-30 members meeting every 3-4 months and needing daily support by phone, email and face-to-face with up-to-date information and crucial contacts across the sectors. It leaves her with just about enough energy at the end of the day to dedicate to her personal aim of reading a book a week as her head hits the pillow. She may be left not wanting to get out of her bed in the morning but that is due to the comfort of that pillow. Every single day in ACVO’s role stitching together that great patchwork quilt is, she asserts, a pleasure like no other job before. That and, of course, being back up and about in the City of her birth, one of the liveliest of our team!

If you would like to know more about any aspect of ACVO’s work as your Scottish Government funded Third Sector Interface, an independent charity, contact us at enquiries@acvo.org.uk visit www.acvo.org.uk or phone 01224 686058.

Susan Morrison

Susan Morrison