Isabella Goldie – Chief Executive
Isabella is the Chief Executive at Deafblind Scotland, appointed in early April 2019. Isabella has a wide range of experience working in charities but started her career as nurse in 1984.
For the previous 15 years Isabella worked within the Mental Health Foundation, managing See Me the national anti- stigma programme, establishing the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, working with Refugees to establish projects such as Amaan for women who experienced trauma and developed a new service user led organisation – Voices of Experience (VOX). She supported the strategic development of mental health services in Scotland through working with the Scottish Government to develop the National Standards for Crisis Services and undertaking the Review of Mental Health Services: Commitment 1 of the Scottish Mental Health Strategy (2012-15).
Over the past five years Isabella has worked as UK Director, leading Research, Policy and Innovation Programmes for the Mental Health Foundation alongside a programme of international public mental health partnerships.
On taking up her role she is delighted to be leading an organisation with such an obvious commitment to improving lives but also to working side by side with members and those that use its services to ensure that people who experience dual sensory impairment are at the heart of the organisation’.
Furthermore, she has stated that ‘it is an enormous privilege to be invited to lead the organisation through the next stage of development.
Margaret Stygal – Head of Finance, Resources and Membership
Margaret joined Deafblind Scotland during 2012 and has responsibility for the financial activities of all aspects of the Charity. Her career has spanned more than 35 years, employed in many different environments including both public, private sector organisations.
As a member of the executive team Margaret ensures that the Charity’s financial accounting is monitored and reported to the Board of Directors. She is an integral part of the team and is pivotal maintaining and developing robust systems and processes. She is also responsible for liaising with and developing external relationships where appropriate with funders and providers alike.
Elaine Henson – Head of Operations
Elaine previously worked for a financial institution for 23 years and embarked on a massive career change when she started with Deafblind Scotland in December 2003 as Literacy and Numeracy Project Officer. Since then Elaine has managed several projects including Community Involvement, Volunteering, Charity Shop and Participation.
Elaine achieved her Diploma in Deafblind Studies in 2009, which allowed her to broaden her skills and knowledge of deafblindness. She joined the Guide/communicator team in April 2013 and since then has completed a PDA in Supervision and SVQ 4. As Depute Manager she liaises with stakeholders, maintains networks with colleagues in sensory impairment and beyond, assesses for membership, negotiates, sets up and reviews services and is involved in the day to day running of the service.
Elaine is a regular supporter of events and has been known to parade the catwalk at a fundraising fashion show!
Margaret Oliphant – Membership Services
Margaret has worked for Deafblind Scotland since 2001 as their Membership Officer. Margaret’s primary role is dealing with enquiries regarding new referrals for membership. She also arranges visits to assess people for membership and to see how best Deafblind Scotland can be of use to them. Margaret regularly contacts various external agencies on behalf of members to request an assessment for equipment or funding for a guide/communicator service.
Outside the office Margaret and her husband are members of the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland and enjoy visiting their various properties around the country.
Christine Small – Service Co Ordinator
Christine joined DBS as Service Coordinator with the Guide Communicator Service in January 2020 after working with Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland for 15 years as a Regional Trainer.
During her time with DBS Christine has enjoyed working and building relationships with Service Users and Guide Communicators which has allowed her to build on her knowledge of DBS and the vital role of the Guide Service within the wider community.
She enjoys working as part of a team with her colleagues to ensure that DBS is delivering a service of high quality and meeting the needs of our service users.
Christine is married with 3 grown up children and when she is not working she enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Carolanne Martin – Finance Administrator
Carolanne has worked with Deafblind Scotland as an Administrator since 2007. Her role primarily involves the smooth running of all daily and monthly administration tasks associated within the Finance and Service Department, including regular contact with the Guide/Communicators. Carolanne thoroughly enjoys working with all her colleagues at Deafblind Scotland and since joining the Charity she has gained qualifications in BSL level 2. She is currently undertaking a course on Sage Financial Controller Accounting Software.
Sarah Gillen – Trusts and Income Generation Manager
Sarah has worked in the voluntary sector for over 20 years, spending the last 8 years in grant fundraising. She has considerable experience in writing successful funding applications that evidence the three vital considerations for funders – real need, value for money and a well managed project. Sarah is a member of the Institute of Fundraising (IOF) and is a committee member of the IOF’s Special Interest Group – trusts and grants.
Sarah is responsible for implementing Deafblind Scotland’s income strategy and managing the fundraising team.
Sarah and her husband love the Scottish seaside, having family parties and spending time with their cat Daisy.
Sandra McNab – Community and Events Fundraiser
Sandra joined Deafblind Scotland in October 2013 as a Community and Events Fundraiser organising various events such as our first Ladies Lunch and Midnight Walk. Sandra also worked closely with volunteers to help at various can collection at supermarkets, shopping centres and festivals. In September 2014, Sandra took over the management of our charity shop in Kirkintilloch which was closed for refurbishment and reopened on 30th October 2014.
Julie Ritchie – Senior Development Leader
Julie joined Deafblind Scotland in August 2019 in the fundraising department. She organised key fundraising events events, such as our annual Santa Dash and due to Covid-19 facilitated the transition of events to virtual and on-line activities. Julie gained her BSL Level 1 qualification in January 2021 .
In May 2021, Julie started working part-time with the Welfare Rights Team. Julie ensured anyone referred to Deafblind Scotland was receiving their maximum income and would help complete benefit application forms.
In October 2021, Julie took on the role of Senior Development Leader. Julie organises member activities both on-line and in-person at our Learning and Development Centre. She also plans excursions for members and will apply for grants for accessible equipment. She oversees our Touching Lives Take 2 project and Wellbeing projects.
In her spare time, Julie enjoys walking and cycling. She spends time with her family and is kept busy looking after her 2 young sons.
John Whitfield – Participation and Training Officer
The health access project aims to ensure deafblind people can fully benefit from mainstream health and social care services. The project aims to highlight the needs of deafblind people for communication support to allow them to access services. John can provide advice and assist on developing policies and solutions.
John is also our Training Officer, whose priority it is to ensure all DbS Guide Communicators and Staff are qualified to provide the highest level of communication & guiding support in the various formats for people living with dual sensory impairment and enable deafblind people equal access to information, communication and mobility. John travels all over Scotland & Islands to deliver DbS in-house Courses such as Awareness training and Deafblind Manual. He is often called upon to deliver talks to Public Organisations, Private Businesses and to Social groups.
John has Usher syndrome type 2. He has been severely deaf from birth and wears two hearing aids and lip reads. In his late teens his sight began to deteriorate due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) otherwise known as tunnel vision and he now has 5% of vision left.
John was first introduced to Deafblind UK in 1999 when, as a psychology student, he interviewed dual sensory people for his dissertation. John started working for Deafblind Scotland when it was formed in 2000 and has now worked for them in many different capacities.
John enjoys a challenge. He has walked The Great Wall of China, undertaken The Inca trail to Machu Picchu and trekked the Grand Canyon!
Helen Campbell – Senior Programme Leader
Helen works as Welfare Rights Officer in the Kirkintilloch Office. The project “Connect to Welfare Rights” began in August 2014 and Helen and the team give advice and assistance with welfare information, benefit checks, money matters and anything to do with equal rights or access. As the project is supported by Visibility they also assist visually impaired people. Helen advises the aim is to maximise income for sensory impaired adults by researching up to date information, distribute in accessible formats, providing home visits to complete forms and promoting independence and equal opportunities.
Helen began working with Deafblind Scotland in September 2005 as a temp answering phones and carrying out general admin tasks. She then progressed to the Guide Services Department coordinating and allocating jobs to guide communicators. This involved working closely with both guides and deafblind service users. Helen has also volunteered with Citizens Advice in her evenings and weekends.
Helen’s background is catering and she worked in various catering management roles before changing direction and coming to Deafblind Scotland.
Riley Bartholomew – Welfare Rights Officer
Riley’s role is to organise referrals from Deafblind Scotland members and also external requests for help with their welfare rights. He is involved in making the Welfare Rights service run as smoothly as possible from making appointments to researching funding for equipment.
Riley is also a trainee welfare rights officer and has been on a couple courses so far to ensure has the knowledge and skills needed to advise and assist those in need.
Before Deafblind Scotland Riley came from a BSL and support background in education and the voluntary sector. He also worked as a supervisor in a cinema while he was studying BSL and gaining experience working with students with additional needs.
In 2016 he was nominated for a YouthLink Young Person’s Champion Award for his four years volunteering work at a LGBT youth group.
Ruth Hart – Senior Programme Leader: Policy & Engagement
Ruth first worked for Deafblind Scotland as a guide/communicator, while at university studying Psychology in 2003. After university she completed the Diploma in Deafblind Studies and went on to run the Community Planning Involvement Project within Deafblind Scotland, then worked in several other areas of the charity.
She spent some away years in other charities across Scotland as an event manager and operations manager before returning to Deafblind Scotland in 2016.
As Senior Programme Leader she currently focuses on equality and human rights work with deafblind people and those in wider society. The Dare to Dream project established a group of deabflind ambassadors who work together as peers, using their lived experience to ensure deafblind people’s experiences and views are heard. This group also created the Manifesto of Deafblind People’s Rights, created in consultation across Scottish deafblind people and which formed the basis for Deafblind Scotland’s 5 Year Strategy and Policy Influencing Plan 2022. The Right to Dream project launched in October 2021 in partnership with Visibility Scotland, builds on the excellent work of the Dare to Dream ambassadors. Providing training on human rights and empowerment for deafblind and visually impaired people. Ensuring they have the opportunities participate in public life and have a tangible influence on the decisions that effect them.
Maureen MacPherson – Carers Advice Project – Fife
Maureen is the lead of our Carers Advice Project – Fife, which began in July of 2021. Originally from the Highlands, she moved to Glasgow in 2016, and started working for Deafblind Scotland in January 2017, as a guide communicator. With a background in Deaf education, Maureen has her level 3 British Sign Language and is looking forward to achieving her Interpreting qualification.
In her spare time, she enjoys nature photography, hillwalking, and the outdoors in general.