I became involved with Secure Scotland thanks to an opportunity through the human rights master’s degree I am doing at the University of Edinburgh. I was given a choice between a traditional dissertation or a work-based placement and I had no doubt in my mind that contributing to a ‘real-life’ organisation was the best option for me.
I spent the nine years between graduating from my bachelors and starting the Master’s degree living and working abroad. The bulk of this time was spent in Colombia where I first started teaching English and then made the switch to a humanitarian organisation called The HALO Trust. HALO is a landmine clearance organisation that works to save lives and restore livelihoods affected by conflict in 25 countries around the world. Through HALO, I have had the opportunity to work in Colombia, Cambodia, Honduras and Sri Lanka. I have learned that the most effective way to carry out this type of work is by building trust with communities by creating spaces to hear their voices and incorporating their needs from the outset of any project design. Top-down decisions rarely gain traction without community buy-in.
These thoughts and the people-centred approach that underpins them strongly influenced my decision to team up with Secure Scotland. I share the belief that Scottish security needs are far more complex and wider-ranging than maintaining well-equipped armed forces. Helping to build a platform to voice Scotland’s human security concerns – poverty, unemployment, food insecurity – enables me to draw upon the experiences I have gained abroad towards making a difference at home.