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A word from our new Chair

Alastair MacDonald

Alastair MacDonald –  Chair

We are delighted to welcome Alastair MacDonald as the new Chair of the Executive Board for VSS.  You can read Alastair’s introductory blog below.

“With my recent appointment as Chair of The VSS Board, I thought it would be helpful if I were to introduce myself and say something about how I see the role I have taken on. I plan to get out and about to try and get to know as many volunteers and staff as I can, so I hope to meet many of you on my travels or at events.

About me – most of my career has been in the Civil Service (the Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions) managing the delivery of public services in quite challenging fields, mostly connected to law enforcement in various ways, as well as social security. On leaving the Civil Service, I became an Associate Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, involved in, amongst other issues, the review of armed policing in Scotland and managing the safety and security of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. My principal activity now is volunteering as a Trustee for VSS, which I joined just over a year ago, which takes up around 2-3 days a week. I live in Edinburgh, try to get out into the fantastic Scottish countryside as often as I can and I’ve also set myself two really difficult personal challenges, learning to play the violin and learning Polish. I found out later it is believed to be one of the hardest languages to learn after Mandarin Chinese (and it is also the second widest spoken language in the UK). As for the violin………

Why have I taken on the role of Chair? I want to do something worthwhile and continue to use the experience and skills I have acquired after a long career. I believe I have a lot of experience in many of the areas where VSS needs leadership and support. I also think my experience in delivering public services as well as having been as a government reviewer, investigator and inspector has given me the insight and analytical skills to play a positive role in taking us forward. I am a strong believer in VSS’ mission and want it to be successful.

How do I see the role of VSS Chair? The purpose of the Board, which has ultimate overall accountability for VSS activity, is to lead on the governance of the organisation and provide scrutiny. It is there to set direction, ensure the mission and values of the organisation are followed, that business is conducted legally and ethically, the resources are soundly managed and the management are held to account. It provides direction on strategy rather than operations. The role of Chair is an interesting one: it comes with no particular powers. My job is to lead, advise, influence and challenge. I have to maintain the trust and confidence of Board colleagues and promote harmonious team working. I am also keen, as a volunteer myself, that our valuable volunteers are represented properly. The job also involves being an ambassador for VSS. This does include attending dressy functions and I’m slightly apprehensive that my kilt, which has not seen much action recently, may be a bit harder to do up these days!

So how do I see the future? Charities are facing challenging times; public confidence can’t be taken for granted and much of the world we are used to seems to be altering. It is crucial we stay relevant and influential in the vital area of work we do. This year will see us looking hard at all our activities, making sure we are as effective as we can be and seeking to keep our lead in the public debate concerning victims and witnesses. We plan a conference in March where I hope many of us we will exchange ideas, discuss and challenge as part of the ongoing process of making us fit for the future. One thing’s for sure, those who need our help will need us more than ever and we all want to do the best for them.”

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