Guest Blog: Charity CEO Reflections in Scotland During Week 5 of Lockdown

This guest blog is brought to you by Julie Hutchison from Aberdeen Standard Capital who summarises the key themes which emerged during ACOSVO's Week 5 CEO Check-In During COVID-19. 

 

 

ACOSVO has been hosting weekly CEO zoom calls since the COVID-19 crisis took hold. I joined the zoom call with around 20 CEO's in week 5 of lockdown. This blog summarises the key themes which emerged, with weblinks for follow-up.

 

Wellbeing of beneficiaries and staff is front of mind

The discussion opened with a focus on supporting the positive mental health of both beneficiaries and staff.  A particular angle was the differing needs of staff who are currently furloughed and staff who are still working.  There is an awareness of the integration work which lies ahead in re-connecting furloughed staff at the future point when that becomes feasible, with observations that charities already are not necessarily the same organisations they were four weeks ago. 

One CEO shared practice in their organisation with the use of Personal Wellness Plans, which helps to encourage conversations around mental health. This has helped to make it easier to talk about feeling overwhelmed. 

 

Flexible working is now the only norm

The concept of ‘bringing your whole self to work’ has never felt more real.  I could not hide the fact that my landline was ringing just at the precise moment I was talking on zoom.  Generally, it’s the over 70s in my life who call me on my landline, and I later caught up with said over-70, who was having IT and email problems and needed some help.  That’s the reality of the current situation, where caring roles have come to the fore amidst trying to work from home.  It was perfectly illustrated again on the zoom call with the happy appearance of the daughter of one of the CEOs who wandered into view.  As one CEO said:

“There’s no such thing as work-life balance now: there’s only life.”

Another commented that the current situation is not the same as ‘working from home’ – rather, people are at home during a crisis and are trying to work. 

 

Complexity for charities in the furlough scheme rules

One technical area to arise was the detail of how the furlough scheme rules apply to charities who receive public funding.  The SCVO website has current guidance here: https://scvo.org.uk/support/coronavirus/employees/furlough

 

Hopes for what emerges on the ‘other side’ of the pandemic

A number of charity CEOs are already having post-Covid strategic and planning conversations in their organisations.  The policy space opening-up contains many themes here, including analysis of the potential role for a universal basic income (UBI).  It was noted that work had already been underway to analyse UBI pre-Covid, and that the RSA was a source of further information:

https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/economy-enterprise-manufacturing-folder/basic-income

Discussions came round to the inequalities of the pre-Covid world, and the work of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group was mentioned.  https://www.swbg.org.uk/

In closing, this comment from a participant is a great summary:

 

“The old world was not people-centred.  We don’t want to get back to that version of normal.”

 

Aberdeen Standard Capital is a strategic partner of ACOSVO.