I spent the bulk of my career working for a Scottish local authority where my principal role was supporting staff through the process of implementing change. Retiring early, I spent some time in the private sector, followed by several years working for the NHS, again centred around supporting the implementation of change. From an early stage I was involved in voluntary activities, including encouraging equality, promoting community engagements, supporting local politics, developing interest in the local environment and, most recently, supporting individuals in financial crisis.
Reflecting on more than half a century of life, work and volunteering in Scotland, I have come to appreciate that change was most often defined by a small number of individuals at the “centre”, who expected implementation to be undertaken at little cost by staff and volunteers already committed to supporting the status quo. At best individuals and the community might be consulted but examples of effective engagement were rare. More recently, I have begun to examine the priorities which we have as a nation, particularly in terms of what we mean by “security”. Over the past decade there has been a trend to see “security” as a response to external threats. Listening to friends and fellow citizens, particularly those in less well-off circumstances, I hear different, more personal concerns.
The philosophy of Secure Scotland seemed to me to reflect the views I am hearing from ordinary people and I want to support its activities and development. The current Covid-19 crisis epitomises for me the gulf between the “centre” and the general population and the tensions which exist within our society. The difficulties we are experiencing are not just the result of this pandemic but are rooted in the priorities which governments and institutions have had over decades. As a nation we need to deal with the present crisis, but also need to take the opportunity to redefine what it is we mean by a secure society and reset our national priorities.