Celebrating his 20th anniversary with Right There, David Gaughan, Head of Operations, shares his memories over the decades.

Where does the time go… when I started, I didn’t have any grey hair, now it’s all I have …

I remember my first shift as a casual worker in our Pilton accommodation for adults in Edinburgh. Things back then were a little different… induction took 10 minutes and included; this is the fire alarm, these are the keys, this is the logbook, see ya later.

The next 8 hours I spent chatting with the people we were supporting, and I just loved it. 20 years later, I am now Head of Operations overseeing the support we provide for almost 4,000 people across Scotland every year.

Over the decades I’ve seen a lot of significant changes, ensuring the highest standards of support are achieved for those experiencing homelessness.  Back in the day, training was on the job, but we’ve seen the introduction of the Care Inspectorate (regulating body) and the Scottish Social Services Council and qualifications in SVQs. 

I am proud that as an organisation we were one of the first in Scotland to introduce the concept of Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE). This means that programmes are designed and delivered in a way that takes into account the emotional and psychological needs of the individuals using them.

“Understand that love matters – unconditional positive regard.” 

We’ve also put a strong emphasis on language that’s inclusive and breaks down barriers and stigmas. We pride ourselves on being a learning organisation, and a few years ago we stopped using the term ‘service users’ when describing the people we support because it didn’t reflect our people first approach to how we do things. 

And things keep getting better, this year we’ve introduced our Theory of Change model which demonstrates the emotional and practical journey of change people may experience when working with us.

I have worked with thousands of people over the years and I understand that the actions we take, what we say, and how we say it, really does have an impact on how people feel.

I have learned that to ensure we achieve our vision at Right There – a world where everyone has an equal chance to create a safe space and supportive place to call home is by: 

  • Living our values and put them into practice.
  • Building trusting relationships with your colleagues, commissioners, and the people we support.
  • Taking time to understand people’s stories and listen to them.
  • Understanding that people are resilient and can and do change.
  • Helping people connect with their communities.
  • Understanding that love matters – unconditional positive regard.
  • Having fun, and laugh whenever you can.
  • Taking risks, don’t be scared to make mistakes, just learn from them.

I am not going to pretend, it can be a really hard job emotionally. It’s not for everyone, and at times, I have felt lost and under real pressure and have been in some really scary situations.

I have also had the privilege of seeing people grow and move on from real adverse life experiences and worked with amazing colleagues who have given their all for the people they are supporting. 

It’s been the most amazing and rewarding 20 years and I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Our roots as an organisation go back almost 200 years. Discover more about our long-standing history of serving communities in Scotland.

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