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Personal mission of city’s first lady

Profile of Sheena Duncan, wife of Bob Winter, the Lord Provost of Glasgow and the most senior civic leader in Scotland.

Sheena’s big interest is child care and child protection, and a desire to “help people who haven’t had a chance”, writes Cate Devine. In this she had an influential early role model in her own mother, a hard-working and devout Church of Scotland Christian, whom Sheena describes as “motivated by a love of her fellow humans”.

Sheena was born in Clydebank. She and her younger brother were brought up by their mother after their father, a session clerk at Kilbowie Parish Church, died of a heart attack when Sheena was just 13. Her mother continued her father’s straightforward approach to life.

“Put it this way,” she says. “I thought everyone went to school every day; I didn’t know you could take a day off. I thought everyone went to church every Sunday; I didn’t know you didn’t have to go.” But although her own working-class childhood was “supremely and profoundly happy”, she did witness the ravaging effects of poverty and alcoholism across the wider community.

Since retiring early in 2001 [from her post as director of social work at Renfrewshire Council], Sheena has been on the board of the Talbot Centre, in Glasgow’s west end, which helps the city’s homeless. “The Talbot has changed out of all recognition,” she says. “There are many young people with drug and alcohol problems at the centre. We get them fed, give them clothes, get their benefits sorted out. They are medically assessed, then encouraged to look at paths out of the way they are living. It’s a long road, but for some – in fact for a number – it’s very successful.”

Sheena also works for the Scottish Social Services Council (the registration body for social work) and sits on the council of the Princes Trust in Scotland. She was on the board of East Park Home for three years until 2004 and was asked to run the charity National Children’s Homes for six months after that. She only very reluctantly gave up her seat on the Quarriers Village board, and on the visiting committee at Polmont Young Offenders Institution, because it was becoming difficult to juggle all her commitments with the duties of Lady Provost.

Full story at The Herald.

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