Bye and best wishes to Kelly

Kelly Cunningham, who has served ELCAP with distinction for 24 years, has left our charity to take up a post with our friends at The Richmond Fellowship Scotland.

While we are sorry to lose Kelly, we are delighted that her experience, knowledge and skills will continue to make a difference in our sector, at a time of challenge and opportunity for social care organisations.

Paying tribute to Kelly, ELCAP Chief Executive Paul White said:

“We thank Kelly for her dedication and energetic commitment to our charity over almost quarter of a century, most recently as our Business Manager.

Her passion for enabling the development of the individuals we support, our staff and our organisation has changed many lives for the better, while she has helped ensure ELCAP is built on strong foundations.

We wish Kelly all the very best on her next adventure.”

Prior to her move, we asked Kelly to share her thoughts on her time with ELCAP.

You started working for ELCAP in August 1997.  What were you doing before you joined our charity?

I worked in a solicitor’s in Edinburgh.  My plan at that time or just before was to go to Art College or university, but I wanted to take some time out to earn some money and see what working life was all about.  Whilst working short-term at the solicitor’s, the job at ELCAP came up.  It was very local, so I thought “oh, I’ll give that a try for a year or so and then go back to studies”.  Twenty-four year later, with two degrees, I was still here!

Can you tell us about your early days with ELCAP?  What were your first impressions of our organisation?

I remember thinking, wow, these adults I’m working with all take life far too seriously!

You’ve worked in a variety of roles.  Can you tell us how your career developed over the years?

I was so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in so many roles.  When I first joined ELCAP back in 1997, the Hopetoun Unit was in the middle of closing and the service users who lived there were moving out into their own homes throughout East Lothian.  ELCAP was relatively small at this point and just seemed to grow overnight.

I think that is why I stayed so long, nothing ever remained the same and things continued to change and move on.  New jobs and opportunities would come up and I would always think “I can have a bash at that.”

I went from being an Office Junior, to Secretary, to Administrative Supervisor, to Administrative Manager to Business Manager.  It’s been quite a journey.

What’s your favourite book?  And can you tell us why?

I absolutely love reading, I read anything between two and four books a week.  It is the only thing that relaxes me enough to fall asleep.  People that know me well know that I am constantly on the go and my mind is in permanent overdrive, so reading really helps me TRY to switch off.

My all-time favourite book has to be Alex Ferguson’s autobiography.  He is such an inspirational man – you either love him or you hate him.  He had the ability to get the absolute best out of most people he led. 

The book gives me goose-bumps – it has a mixture of good times, bad times, happy times and sad times.  

What is the best thing about ELCAP?

Can I be greedy and have two joint best things?  Being able to watch people throughout the organisation develop and really grow in their roles and into other roles.  There is honestly nothing better than being part of people’s development.  It makes me happy.   

My second joint best thing has been watching the lives of so many service users be transformed, because our committed staff pushed and pushed to ensure supported individuals have the same choices and experiences as others.

And what could we improve?

ELCAP should be brave, promoting risk enablement as much as possible, to allow the individuals we support to achieve aspirational outcomes.

What is your favourite film?  And why should we watch it?

Stepbrothers!  However, I am taking no responsibility for anyone being offended by the film.

The film has you belly laughing.  It is the only film that I have watched where real tears poured from my eyes.

When life becomes too serious, give it a watch, but as I said above I am including a disclaimer for anyone easily offended.

You’ve made a huge contribution to ELCAP, the individuals we support and our staff.  What is your proudest achievement?

I have so many proud achievements over the years I am struggling to pick the one that stands out most.  I think perhaps if I really had to choose it would be back in 2017 when sadly our Chief Executive was seriously unwell and absent from work long-term.  I helped the organisation continue to be financially and operationally viable during some real uncertain times.  I also managed to do this with (I hope) no long lasting damage to anyone and with some laughs along the way.

What’s your favourite song?  What makes it special?

This is the hardest question to answer.  I have too many to choose from and have different favourite songs for different reasons.  I suppose a song that holds the most memories for me is “Barcelona” by Ed Sheeran.  My pride and joy (my son) won player of the tournament when his team won a football tournament over in Barcelona in 2018.  When it was announced in front of a packed stadium, that song was playing and I was the proudest woman alive at that moment. 

PS:  I am crying writing this part.

You are going to work for The Richmond Fellowship Scotland.  What is your new job and what does it involve?

My job title is Area Manager.  In short, I am responsible for the operational and financial performance of the Registered Managers, their staff and services in Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian and the Borders – so it’s a big and varied job.  I hope that I can be part of another organisation and help to make a difference to the lives of staff and people we support – and grow services within these areas and perhaps beyond.

Can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?

If you tell me something cannot be done, I will move heaven and earth to do it!

You’ve met many people and made many friends during your time at ELCAP.  Do you have a message for them?

Take every learning opportunity that comes your way and try and wake up every morning wanting to make a difference, no matter how big or small that difference might be.  Always be true to yourself.

I really am going to miss so many of you.  It’s been an absolute pleasure and who knows, we might meet again in another life.