The latest articles and ideas from Inspiring Scotland and our partners.


Catherine Alexander talks about her experience as a Specialist Volunteer

Specialist Volunteer Catherine Alexander, has over thirty-five years’ experience in banking and financial services, having worked with private clients, institutional clients, insured defined contribution pension scheme clients and insurance company clients. Most recently Catherine worked with Aegon Asset Management / Kames Capital where she was she was Head of Client Service before joining Inspiring Scotland as a Performance Adviser, and now as a volunteer with the Specialist Volunteer Network.

Inspiring Scotland’s charities have benefited from Catherine’s broad range of skills but especially her approach to getting the best from people to build effective and empowered teams. Since January 2017 Catherine has delivered £11,800 worth of pro bono hours to various charities, of which £5,400 of was with The Usual Place, based in Dumfries. This encompassed assisting with strategic and business plans as well as Cost Benefit Analysis.

Catherine’s Specialist Volunteer work has focused on Cost Benefit Analysis which charities find invaluable in helping them demonstrate the benefit of the service that they provide, as well providing equivalent costs to the community if the charity had not provided the service. This helps the charity put a value to the service they provide more fully and more importantly it allows them to demonstrate to funders and other stakeholders, just how vital their service is and the cost to the community if they did not provide this service.

The secret of Catherine’s success is that she delivers this knowledge in a very empathetic way to the charities and gives them the confidence and an extensive toolkit to carry on the CBA themselves in future. So, the learning is embedded which is vital.

Being used to being behind the scenes Catherine was keen to see the impact of their work with young people directly and she was invited to attend the first Graduation Ceremony for the young people and some of their mentors at The Usual Place in Dumfries.


Here is Catherine’s take on Inspiring young people in Dumfries.

“This was a wonderful evening when the first group of SVQ graduates from the programme at the Usual Place were presented with their certificates.

The transformative power of the ethos which underpins everything at the Usual Place has enabled and empowered a group of young people whose talents and qualities would otherwise have been overlooked. As a result, they are now able to be active participants in their communities rather than passive recipients of care.

Many of the graduates stood at the lectern and spoke to the assembled gathering sharing their experiences and recording their thanks. These were young people who could barely make eye contact or hold a conversation when they started and here they were holding a room full of people in the palms of their hands with their words.

One of the graduates couldn’t be there to collect his certificate. Why? Because he was working! Just proves that the Usual Place works too!”


Catherine Alexander

Inspiring Scotland Specialist Volunteer

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