Annual Report 2008-09

This has been a truly traumatic year for the organisation. Almost immediately after our last AGM in November 2008, we were informed by NHS Lothian that they were going to reduce our funding by two thirds with effect from 1st April 2009, and the timescale left us no time to make any alternative arrangements for core funding.

An emergency Board Meeting was called and took an in-depth scrutiny of the costs involved in either accepting or rejecting the paltry allocation of funds. I will not bore you with the intricacies of what happened next, but it was clear that Scot-PEP could not function on £50,000 per year and we were left with no alternative but to refuse the pittance on offer, and close down the service side of our activities.

It was with a very heavy heart and a deal of sadness that we made most of the staff redundant on 31st March 2009. That job fell to me, as the junior Co-Chair, leaving George as the avenue of appeal, if required. I am hugely grateful to Amanda Jones of McLay, Murray and Spens for her expert advice on redundancy procedures, which kept everyone right as to the legal requirements. I am also very grateful to our former staff - Nine Davidson, Gill Rae, Sarah Woodbury and Megan Thomas - for allowing the process to be gone through with as much dignity as possible, given the circumstances. 

On 1st April this year, we returned to our roots as a campaigning and advocacy organisation. There was just enough money left in the till to keep Ruth continued in our employ until the end of September 2009; Neil, who is on a separate contract with the Council, remains with us until 2010, and we have scraped together enough money to ensure that Andrea will be with us until 2011.

Obviously, having a base to work from was absolutely vital, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Board member Mark Thorley for putting us up here in his new office premises. This gesture can best be described as a lifeline, for which we are truly grateful.

In the spring and summer, Ruth and Andrea, with Neil’s assistance, worked "above and beyond" the call of duty at slimming down the organisation, and we realised a surprising amount of cash selling off office property and supplies. Latterly, the Newhaven office has been a barren, empty place to be, and Andrea and Neil, deserve special mention for soldiering on when people in other work-places would have been out on strike!

We have semi-removed ourselves from Newhaven Road, our home for 7½ years, to Guthrie Street - definitely not to schedule! I think we have all suffered a period of feeling rudderless in a changing sea, but once we are settled we have a window of opportunity to look at our strategic direction, identify priorities and make appropriate plans. Major adjustments in activity have been and will continue to be made, but we will not lose our focus on the most important people in all of this – the women, for whom we make a stand.