DTA Scotland Monthly Blog
Posted on: Wednesday 28th June, 2023
It's a tough job, but can it get any easier?
Pauline Smith - DTA Scotland Chief Executive
From my experience of working in a development trust for many years, my first year in this job and for many of my close colleagues in the third sector, I felt compelled to write this blog and wanted to start by saying ‘Well done!’ Well done and thank you to all the managers, staff and voluntary Board members that work so hard on a daily basis to make improvements in the communities that they live in.
Sometimes it can feel like an uphill struggle when you are working within a community and you are often the go to person for complaints or issues that people are facing or need help with. In addition, you aim to be as inclusive as possible and that means consulting and including as many of the community as possible, which is challenging on occasions. But it’s all worth it when you take the time to remember all that you have helped achieve, the people you have supported and all that you are striving to do. Do you make time to remember and reflect?
The answer in most cases is no, you are so busy doing the job. It is probably hard to even remember a day that you went in to work with a plan and it went to plan. That said, it’s why you love what you do, isn’t it? Every day is different and anything is possible within a development trust: local people striving and succeeding to make physical, social and economic differences.
You aren’t doing it for personal profit, it’s definitely not because you’re being paid a huge salary or maybe you’re not paid at all (something that I’ll speak about in another blog). You aren’t doing it for a stress-free life and a good night’s sleep and you aren’t doing it just 9 to 5! It is because it’s exciting, it’s rewarding and it’s vital to communities across Scotland, but it is a tough job and I want to make sure that all of this work is recognised, celebrated and for DTAS to find ways to make it a bit easier.
I was recently talking to someone who said that their organisation didn’t need a new Chief Executive to develop the organisation, because they’d reached a stage where they just needed to maintain the organisation as it was. A great position to be in but this wasn’t a community organisation, so it got me thinking – when does a development trust reach a point where it isn’t developing or isn’t supporting people with evolving needs or when the community doesn’t need anything further? Is there ever a point where enough is enough and the job at the top gets a bit easier?
Of course, I recognise that every community is different and so answers will be different but from my experience of working in an area that was classed as high deprivation - there is always something else that needs to be developed. What that means is funding applications need to be filled in, development and financial plans need written, volunteers & staff recruited, training delivered, consultations completed and the list goes on. Worth it when you get it done but my point is that along with the continued development is the continued form filling and pressure to succeed, often where others have failed.
If communities are going to continue developing, we need to work hard to find the solutions to make the job easier: long term investment in community infrastructures, improved decision-making powers on a local level, easier asset transfer processes, a clearer funding landscape and alternative finance options, community wealth building, evidence of the economic impact that development trusts have in Scotland and much more!
Development trusts (and other community orgs) prove daily what can be achieved and therefore we need to do more to make that journey simpler and reduce the stress on Boards and staff within the sector. Can it get easier? It has to and I’m looking forward to helping make those changes.