Being Chair of The Usual Place Board of Directors

I am in my second year as Chair of the Board of Directors of Inspired Communities Trust who are behind The Usual Place Cafe in Dumfries. We are an non for profit distributing social enterprise company. Our aim is too provide training and employment for young people with additional support needs. The board of directors govern the organisation but we are very involved as volunteers in the cafe.

However being chair means I never know what I’m going to be doing next so far I have 

  • Officially opened the building with a speech from the heart
  • Met with MSPs, MPs, Councillors and Council Leaders from Dumfries and Galloway and across Scotland 
  • Spoke to our stakeholders group
  • Spoke to all the visitors we have

No week is ever the same as being chair.

On Tuesday I had a very busy day. I started by helping one of our trainees through their REHIS food hygiene qualification which was enjoyable for me and teaching is a career I want to go into. Then along with Claire our volunteer lead I hosted a group from Finland who were here with a local organisation LEADER who were here to learn about how youth organisations in Dumfries and Galloway engage with our young people. I talked about the journey to get to where we are now and the reasons behind why the Usual Place was born. Then Claire talked about the work we do with our young people and how we work we our trainees. 

It’s always daunting for me to speak to groups that we have in the building but it’s also a pleasure to share our story with other groups. I somewhere in my mind have all the information about the Usual Place and it just comes too the front of my mind. It comes from the heart when I speak about The Usual Place,it’s where I feel at home and can truly be myself. 

In the evening I chaired the Team Meeting. The skill of chairing the meeting is still relatively new to me but I do enjoy the challenge of it. I have been told I’m very good at keeping it focused on what we need too discuss…maybe that’s because I didn’t want to miss my train or maybe it’s just my organisational skills. Next skill to move onto is taking notes of a meeting

I was back in at The Usual Place on Wednesday and as I was waiting for two very special visitors to arrive I started writing this blog.We have Kezia Dugdale, leader of Scottish Labour and Nicola Sturgeon leader of SNP visiting us. 

So the time came to meet Kezia and too say I was nervous was an understatement but as soon as she spoke to me I felt at ease. I introduced her to members of the team and then we went into one of the training rooms to have a conversation. Myself, Callum, Dean, William and Heather all talked about The Usual Place and what it meant to us. Kezia was really interested to listen to what we have achieved in our wonderful building and how we have achieved it. She was also interested in my personal story which too me is key as it showed she valued me being there. After the meeting it was photo opportunities , getting used too that now. Then the chat turned more informal during lunch and I hope to keep in touch with Kezia 

And breatheeeeee it’s time for lunch and relaxing before Nicola this afternoon 

First came in Joan McAlphine, a familiar face to the Usual Place. I then joined Joan outside with Callum, Amy D and Heather to welcome Nicola Sturgeon to our wonderful cafe. Although at the time didn’t realise the camera was filming for border news! So we started our visit with a guided tour of the building, including the stunning cafe space, kitchen, meeting rooms and our very fancy changing places toilet. I’ve been told that Nicola was totally engaged in what I was saying when I was doing my tour which is lovely to hear and very reassuring. As both me and Amy Duffy have met her we found it very easy to talk to her.  After tour it was photo time again! Amy had great fun showing Nicola the coffee machine, it was so lovely too see her smiling with so much joy and pride 🙂 We took the most of the sunny day too have pictures outside before saying goodbye with a hug.

So it’s not everyday that you meet two leaders of political parties but then again it’s not everyone that is chair of an organisation or is priveldged enough to be involved in such a wonderful place. 

I think over the last two days I have grown in a lot more confidence and have more belief in myself. These very influence people really do want too hear my story and the story of The Usual Place.

So I’m looking forward to whatever it brings next as Chair…..

I am also shortlisted for Young Volunteer Award  at the Third Sector local awards 🙂 🙂 

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