Female Leadership Virtual Forum with Jane Bruce, CEO and Roz Cushieri, Chair of Social Bite | Thursday 2nd July

Judy Wagner and Ailsa Sutherland held the latest in FWB Park Brown’s Female Leadership Forum events on Thursday 2nd July.

We were fortunate to have Jane Bruce, CEO and Roz Cushieri, Chair of Social Bite as our guest speakers.

During the Covid-19 crisis, Social Bite has been feeding Scotland’s most vulnerable people, re-purposing their entire facilities to deliver food and essential supplies to people in need.  Jane and Roz talked us through the challenges and opportunities the business has faced over the last few months, as well as their plans to adapt to the future ‘new world’ and the critical relationship between CEO and Chair.

Social Bite’s (SB) central kitchen has been providing food for homeless, elderly, and children and families in poverty during the crisis.  In the first week this involved delivering 3,000 food bags a day – this number has increased to 6,000 food bags a day.  Pace and a can-do attitude has been absolutely essential in ensuring that this could be achieved.  Jane and Roz expressed huge pride about the team’s determination to keep helping people throughout these difficult times and with the increased complexities of doing so safely for both the team and the service users.  Social Bite cafes have been offering take away service and although the restaurant and large events like Sleep in the Park are not able to take place, the business has received excellent support from the Scottish Government and from a recent fundraise.  As the charity hits its 8th birthday, Roz and Jane put this success (particularly in fundraising) down to having built solid partnerships with people who can really help them and each other as well as having a well-designed core purpose which people believe in internally and externally.

The trends in giving are changing and SB understands the need to compete and be creative.  While the income from the trading part of SB is hindered due to the crisis, the business is innovating and developing different types of food delivery such as an afternoon tea and picnic hamper offering.

The CEO/Chair relationship has always been strong between Jane and Roz – it’s often considered to be the most important relationship in the organisation – but during the crisis this has strengthened even further.  Roz’s role has been to support Jane but also to give her room to lead.  Both reporting to the Board and internal communications have naturally increased as and Roz wrote to every member of the team personally to ensure they knew that they have support right from the top.  Roz and Jane have both been very aware of the effort of the team and the risks of burnout.  Jane has been working right on the front line handing out food and supporting the team.  There was a general comment about leaders needing to be more flexible going forward, encouraging people to take time away from the screen and holidays at home.

The longer term homeless situation is still evolving and some of the solutions offered during the crisis such as B&B accommodation are unlikely to be sustainable.  That said, Covid-19 has stiffened the resolve of the community of charities that work in this area and a group called ‘The Collective’ has been set up to drive change here.  This is a group of 19 charities in homelessness who are now fully aligned to work on the key issues.

FWB Park Brown
FWB Park Brown continues to deliver its full range of services which includes providing support and advice during the Covid- 19 Public Health and developing global economic crisis.
We have established a range of cross sector as well as sector focused discussion forums for Chairs, NEDs, CEOs and all the main business management disciplines.  We are also working closely with the Scottish HR Leadership Group to provide constructive support including discussion forums and Q & As.
Summaries of the discussions will be posted on our news section and also on LinkedIn.
For further information about any of these forums please contact us via enquiries@fwbparkbrown.com