Volunteers Week 2021: Our Board of Trustees

We greatly appreciate the knowledge, skills and lived experience that our Board of Trustees bring to Disability Equality Scotland. Our Convener Linda Bamford and Vice-Convener Dorothy McKinney share their experiences on what they have gained from volunteering as part of our Board of Trustees.

Director Focus: Linda Bamford – ConvenerLinda Bamford

I returned to volunteering after early medical retirement from my 34 year career with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service. I retired due to a spinal cord injury, resulting in me being a wheelchair user, managing complications of Cauda Equina Syndrome and struggling with chronic pain.

I was in a dark place after my injury and volunteering helped me regain my self-esteem, confidence and gave me a sense of purpose again. It helped me learn more about my disability and how to manage some of the daily challenges I’d been struggling with and found hard to accept.

After retiral, I felt hopeless and thought I would no longer use the skills and experience gained during my career. But these skills were invaluable in my volunteering and it was good to be able to use them on issues that I was passionate about.  My central belief and career choices focussed on caring for and helping others and through Disability Equality Scotland, Children’s Hearings Scotland and Spinal Injuries Scotland, I got to continue to use these skills and value what I still had to give, even from a wheelchair.

My volunteer roles have allowed me to learn more and better understand people’s needs, in particular that no two people are the same or have the same needs even if they have been ‘labelled’ with the same injury or illness. After struggling to accept my disability, reading about the Social Model of Disability was a light bulb moment. I was hooked, understanding that I needed to work with others to change how places and services were designed and delivered so nobody was excluded.

My volunteering also allows me to take what people share with me into my work as Convener of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland and Commissioner for the Poverty and Inequality Commission. I am lucky that the Team at Disability Equality Scotland share my passions. It also helps that they are a good bunch of folk that I learn from every day. They are all very patient with me in their teachings. You know the old saying – ‘every day’s a school day’.

Director Focus: Dorothy McKinney – Vice Convener

Since I was a child, I have been motivated by fairness and equity, my Mum’s approach to life was ‘equal to all and better than none’. Which was very insightful for a lady who brought up four girls during the troubles in Northern Ireland.

We are all different in so many ways, however it’s important that those differences do not hinder our aspirations, achievements and life experiences.

Working as Director of Disability Equality Scotland has allowed me to use over 40 years working in HR to support the Board, Chair, CEO and the staff team with people related issues.

However, HR is my comfort zone and I have learnt so much more as I progress through my second term as a Director of Disability Equality Scotland:

  • I have gained a better understanding of the needs of those who have disabilities and how an organisation like Disability Equality Scotland along with the local Access Panels can influence and impact on individual lives
  • How an organisation like Disability Equality Scotland with a talented Board and staff team can influence those in power in our society
  • An understanding of the challenges and opportunities of good governance and the responsibilities that this brings to each Director
  • Working with Directors and staff with a wide range of experiences and extending my knowledge and understanding of disabilities, influencing and impacting on change which I will take with me in every other area of my life both personal and professional.

Working as a volunteer Director has been an honour and a pleasure and as I progress to the end of my second term I hope that the next person in the role gets as much satisfaction as I have.