I’m giving up my time to help a woman fulfil her potential
I was delighted last night to receive a letter from the First Minister inviting me to take some time to mentor a young woman as part of our collective journey to develop a fairer Scotland full of equal aspiration and opportunity for all.
I am proud to say that for the last 12 months I have already been mentoring a remarkable young woman – Lucy McKee. And as today is International Women’s Day, I could not let it pass without paying tribute to Lucy and what we have achieved together during this mentoring experience.
When Lucy, a young female member of ENABLE Scotland, who had just left school, came to me and said “I want to be a charity CEO, where do I start?” I was bowled over by her determination, and instantly inspired to become her mentor.
Lucy’s story at school, unfortunately was not a happy one. She was bullied, excluded and basically made to feel invisible for most of her time at school. But she refused to be a victim!
She took on the bullies, challenging them to recognise their behaviour by using our national anti-bullying campaign, took her message to Parliament and appeared on the national News. Lucy is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, and I know she has what it takes to do great things in the future.
Born to succeed
Over the past few months Lucy has spent time shadowing me in my role as CEO of ENABLE Scotland, and I have encouraged her to become more active in our campaigning activity. She now sits on our Charity Advisory Committee and is also Chair of our National Youth ACE Group (Active Community of Empowered People). She is a born campaigner, and full of energy and ambition. Her vision is for a better world for the next generation of young people who have a learning disability.
She does not want them to go through school feeling the way she did. So she is taking action! I have watched Lucy grow in confidence as she delivered speeches at Parliament, gave interviews to national press and addressed over 400 people at our Annual Charity Ball. She was also one of the figureheads of our award-winning #IncludED in the Main?! Campaign, which has now resulted in the Scottish Government issuing new guidelines on inclusion for Scotland’s Schools.
I am truly inspired by the way Lucy is approaching her future. She is part of a generation with great aspirations, a generation that wants the absolute best for themselves, and why not? This generation of young people who have a learning disability are what we might call game-changers. Lucy has big plans for the future, and with her drive and enthusiasm, she’s capable of anything. Watch out First Minister!
I am proud at ENABLE Scotland to be our first female CEO, and that we have a healthy gender balance on our Executive Team, and at every level throughout the organisation. In fact, we employ significantly more women in social care than we do men across the sector as a whole.
Our sector is full of vibrant modern job opportunities, that allow flexibility in working patterns for working mums, and significant career progression opportunities. But there is more we can do. Recruitment is a challenge across social care, and I would like to see more creative approaches such as term time contracts on the table to encourage and support more women to see social care as a viable career option, at any stage of life.
On International Women’s Day, I hope that social care providers and employers take a moment to reflect on how we can think creatively about actively supporting and encouraging more women to take on successful and rewarding careers in our sector, and I look forward to playing my part in that.
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