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Alastair Cameron, Development Officer, Capacity Building Pillar

Alastair’s work involves providing expert support and guidance around governance, policy, procedures, regulation and more, to charities and other third-sector organisations.

With decades of experience under his belt, he knows the sector inside out and he’s no less passionate about working with charities today than he was 38 years ago when he first started out.

Read on to learn more about Alastair’s role, goals for the future of the TSI and why music is important to him. 

Hi Alastair, can you tell us a little more about your role?

I work within the TSI hub of PKAVS and my role is a Development Officer working on our Capacity Building pillar alongside my colleague Gisele.
My role is quite general but mainly it involves responding to enquiries or reaching out to third-sector organisations to provide guidance and advice on the full range of things that they might need, from trustee training to income generation, regulation, fundraising, policies and more.

What’s your background and how did you come to work with PKAVS?

This is now my 37th or 38th year working in the third sector so I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’m absolutely embedded in it. I started with a very small charity in Edinburgh in 1986. Since then I’ve worked in organisations across England and Scotland at a national and community level and linked with the Scottish Government in some instances.
In recent years, I decided to return to the frontline and I have loved working in Perth and Kinross since 2019 and with the TSI since last year.

What is something that you really love about your job?

I love the variety of my role and the opportunity it gives to understand the stories behind all the fantastic groups that we support.
Every organisation is so different and the thrill of the job comes from getting to learn about how people organise themselves and how they’ve developed, it’s a real pleasure to be involved with.
It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to make a difference for these groups and to be able to find a solution to the challenges and needs that people come to us with. It’s a real buzz.

What are the main challenges facing the third sector in Perth and Kinross at the moment?

I don’t think there’s ever been a time when the third sector hasn’t been under pressure. At the moment, money is strapped due to inflation and particularly energy costs which have put huge pressure on core costs.
Core costs are the hardest thing for a community group or charity to cover. Funders are often interested in supporting innovative ideas and projects which is brilliant but organisations need to be able to run the nuts and bolts of their operations before starting any fun projects. Most of the enquiries we get will be around funding and, in particular, core funding.
Another challenge would be dealing with Covid-19’s effect on volunteering. During the pandemic, there was a surging increase of volunteers which has tailed off and changed the demographic of volunteering.
But, I will say that we’re a very resilient sector. The work never stops and we’re good at knuckling down and getting on with it.

What’s your favourite way to have downtime away from work?

For me, it’s the simple pleasures. I’m a family man and I just love getting out walking in the hills with my wife and dog. There’s no better feeling than sitting on top of a hill with an egg sandwich and a flask of tea.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

I wouldn’t presume to give advice to anyone younger than me, they can work it out themselves! 
But if I did, I’d say: ‘Write it down because, in forty years, you won’t remember it’.

What’s your favourite song or artist? Why?

I don’t have any one singular favourite song or artist because music is really huge for me. I find that there’s almost a soundtrack for each part of my life. I can remember the first single 45 that we bought in the house for example, and I remember my first LP. 
There’s music that resonates and reminds me of different memories and of the people I love, like my wife and kids. There’s no one thing that I could choose!

What project or goal would you love to work towards with PKAVS in the next year – five years?

We’ve just spent a couple of months hammering out our plan of action for the year so I’m excited to get going with that. We have a fresh team with lots of new people and lots of new ideas so I’m looking forward to getting out there and delivering what we have set out to do. 

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