Chief encounters: Naomi McAuliffe on the seven year itch and a hatred of mayonnaise

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After seven years spent in London , the new programme director for Amnesty International in Scotland, jumped at the chance to come back up north

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21st September 2015 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

What time do get up and what’s your morning routine?
It usually starts with an incredibly rude awakening by my toddler who will not be persuaded by the joy of sleeping. What then unfolds is a blur of showers, corn flakes, wrestling with hair accessories and walking/jumping to nursery. Then I manage a calm walk to work, stopping off to get a coffee, which is when I actually wake up.

How long have you worked at Amnesty?
I’m coming up to my 10th anniversary at Amnesty. Seven of those years I’ve been based in our London office but I jumped at the first possible opportunity this year to come back to Scotland where I started my Amnesty career.

Chief encounters: Naomi McAuliffe on the seven year itch and a hatred of mayonnaiseNaomi McAuliffe

Working for the Scotland office of a London-based organisation will however, always have its challenges

Have you ever been tempted to move on?
Although 10 years is a substantial amount of time, I have had various different roles, which has made the time fly. I’m sure many people in the sector have gone through similar periods of restructuring and redundancies as we have in the past 5-10 years and they were difficult times. But, as with others, when you focus on the work and some of the truly inspirational people I have had the privilege to meet, then organisational difficulties fade in comparison.

What is your perfect weekend?
One of the best things about relocating to Edinburgh from London is the fact that we can socialise with friends again by getting the small person to sleep in a spare bed, having a lovely meal, perhaps some wine and then delicately getting back home over the cobbles. If it’s a good night; that should really take up my whole weekend.

What was the last thing you did that scared you?
Giving birth was a bit perturbing.

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
Drink more and have more fun. You can recover much more easily, so make the most of it!

Is lunch a five-minute sandwich at your desk or do you find time for yourself?
A five-minute sandwich. After a 30 minute hunt to find a pre-made sandwich which doesn’t contain mayonnaise. It’s the bane of my life.

What do you procrastinate over?
Everything.

Would we all be better off if charities did more in our society?
Not necessarily. Sometimes charity activity is the sign of the state failing in its obligations, I think we’d all prefer it if The Trussell Trust didn’t have to exist and that no one had to rely on foodbanks. But charities do fantastic and necessary work, enhancing the lives of those who benefit and those who work for them and it is important that aspects of our society remain non-profit driven.

Chief encounters: Naomi McAuliffe on the seven year itch and a hatred of mayonnaise

In a globalised world, the distinction between issues that are at home and those that are abroad is increasingly blurred

Should we focus on charity at home more than abroad?
I think the current refugee crisis again makes this distinction redundant. In a globalised world, the distinction between issues that are at home and those that are abroad is increasingly blurred. We are interconnected by climate change, by a global economy, by migration and refugee flows but importantly by a solidarity that so many people feel deeply.

Is it better to work for a big charity or a small charity?
A small office of a big charity! You have the flexibility to act quickly and nimbly but with resources elsewhere that you can call on. Working for the Scotland office of a London-based organisation will however, always have its challenges.

If you were your boss would you like you?
Oh definitely. Although we’d be in constant competition about who was funnier so it would be exhausting.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?
I once temped as a receptionist in a prison but didn’t have the security clearance to do anything but answer the phone, which very rarely rung. It was incredibly boring. I got to read a lot of books but – as you might imagine – the environment was pretty oppressive and affected people who worked there in interesting ways.

What’s your favourite - Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin?
Facebook. I’ve become very hipster about Twitter – in that I preferred it before it was popular. I used to be a huge Twitter user but I find it a pretty hostile place now. And LinkedIn is one of the worst inventions of the 21st century.

Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?
OK, I had to Google which was which. I have to say Brian Denis because he was excellent in The Manhunter, the recent TV series The Game but mostly for the YouTube videos he does where he gives the pronunciations of all the Scottish whiskies – indispensable.