What a difference 14 years makes

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Maureen Mallon reflects on her return to the third sector as new chief executive of OSCR

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3rd April 2019 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

When I left YouthLink Scotland to work for Scottish Government, I thought it was going to be a short break away from the sector where I had spent my career to date. Coming back as chief executive of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is fascinating and I wanted to share my reflections on the changes that have jumped out at me so far.

Let me start with OSCR. Having been involved in many of the discussions about the formation of our regulator it is clear that this is an organisation that has developed and grown over the years.

The journey has been a substantial one; gathering and monitoring information on a vast amount of charities and using our analysis to provide advice and support back into the sector as well as confidence to the public.

The unique overview that OSCR has helps to shape policy. This in turn leads to improvements for and in the sector. I am humbled by the depth of knowledge and passion within the staff team here in Dundee and by the high levels of praise I hear when I’m out and about.  It can be difficult for a regulatory body to balance being approachable to the organisations it regulates whilst making sure that the same organisations are being held to account, but I think OSCR navigates this tightrope well.

Maureen Mallon

Maureen Mallon

One of the first events I attended as chief executive of OSCR was this year’s The Gathering in Glasgow. I remember going to this event in back in 2005 and since then it has grown into a strategic hub where lots of deep thinking and learning happens and a lot of business gets done.

The focus on leadership and sustainability was clear and there was a real sense of maturity and confidence in a sector that no longer feels it needs to justify its place and existence in the way it still did fourteen years ago. ACOSVO has had a huge part to play in this and has itself grown in stature and confidence as a strong and effective network of leaders, movers and shakers.

One of the main reasons I was keen to come back to work with the sector is my overwhelming belief that Scotland is a stronger, more aspirational and ethical country as a result of the quality and scale of its 24,500 charities. The more we can do to support and celebrate high quality in the sector, the more the rest of the country benefits. It’s an exciting time, the Charity Law Reform consultation has just closed and any subsequent changes could have significant impacts on the whole sector as well as the work of OSCR.

There’s still a great deal to do. I haven’t forgotten the difficult tasks facing trustees, volunteers and staff delivering the amazing range of activities and services that so many people benefit from. We have a lot to do to make sure that many more people in Scotland can find their natural place within the sector and don’t feel that somehow it isn’t for the likes of them.

Maureen Mallon is chief executive of OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator