LinkLiving turns 20
In celebration of 20 years of LinkLiving, Jacqueline shares her story of how LinkLiving was founded and the highlights of her 21 year career with Link and LinkLiving.
“On the 12th of June, 2000, I started with Link as a part-time project worker in West Bridge Mill, Kirkcaldy in Fife. At that time there was only five other workers running the whole building. We had a number of tenants and only a few commercial offices leased out. It was a big empty but very cool building.
The building had been abandoned in the 70’s when the rope mill closed. Funnily enough, my dad was the engineer who removed the engines from the 3rd floor. My brother loved telling the story of how it was him that told dad the rope was too short when they were winching the engines down.
Link and Fife Council carried out renovations and when the building was officially reopened in 1995 it was home to the Foyer project. Later we became the home for a Fife Council run homeless project called Springboard.
Over the years I have seen so many changes. When the Springboard project moved out, we tried an aftercare accommodation project for people leaving care, then the housing support service was started up. By then I had become a Team Leader and asked if I could be involved in the start up of the housing support service. I was encouraged to get involved and even attended the Link event where the names for all the new subsidiaries were chosen. That was when LinkLiving was born. It was a great celebration afterwards, that was until I woke up in Dundee at stupid o'clock after missing my bus stop!
I was always asking to get involved in stuff and I was allowed to. I was encouraged to share ideas, even the crazy ones. I had a voice. All these factors have kept my job everchanging, interesting, and engaging.
I then went on to take over the running of the building and its private tenants as well as the accommodation service. This was a good fit for me as I loved the building and had been involved in lots of the renovation and installation works. I was always getting my nose in to find out how things worked!
CEO of LinkLiving Sarah Smith, Link Chairman Roy Stirrat and Service Delivery Manager Jacqueline Nugent on Friday 15 July 2016 at the relaunch event following the extensive refurbishment of West Bridge Mill.
My job has evolved over the years. I have been encouraged to try new things, gained training and qualifications, and worked with so many great people. This has kept it interesting. I have laughed so many times and shared some special times with both service users and colleagues.
One of the highlights amongst hundreds of great memories was organising a service user event with residents and service users from our housing support service. We set up a huge bouncy castle in the reception area. Looking back, this was not very health and safety conscious by today’s standards, but we did have a great time!
I was also part of the move towards service user involvement. I have always loved and learnt so much from hearing what the people we work for want to see in a service. I believe this has shaped LinkLiving’s services in such a positive way.
In my time of working with people, I began to notice links. I could see that a person's previous experiences could shape their life moving forward. I noticed that mental health services treated the symptoms but did not always explore the root causes.
When I was at an event with LinkLiving’s CEO Sarah Smith some years ago she mentioned a new approach called PIE psychologically informed environments. At the time I was studying for one of my qualifications and started researching the approach. This then led me to discover the trauma informed approach and bang, my interest exploded from there.
I was interested in a new service we had started to operate in Fife which was trauma informed. In 2017 my manager heard my interest and got me involved. I soon became the manager of Better Than Well and the Fife Carers’ Self-Help Project. Through these services we have been able to support people with experience of trauma to understand themselves better and begin the journey to recovery.
These services have evolved along with LinkLiving’s other Fife services; Fife Temporary Accommodation with Support, Visiting Support Services, Care at Home, Older Persons’ Service, and our various employability projects.
I love speaking to my colleagues, sharing ideas, and finding new ways to move forward. I am interested in people, what they do, and I think this is a theme that runs through LinkLiving’s work. LinkLiving is always keeping its ear to the ground, looking for what people need and want from services.
It’s been 21 years of change and growth. The once six person team is now over 70 strong and growing.
LinkLiving have grown to become a respected and integral service provider in Fife. We have leaders who are not only strategically minded but also have a good heart. I have great colleagues and a supportive manager. This makes the workplace a happy place.
I do ask myself why I never moved on? But I know the answer is that I have been allowed to grow in a job I love, delivering quality services to the people we work for.
It’s been a real privilege.”
Jacqueline Nugent, Service Delivery Manager
West Bridge Mill reception following refurbishment in 2016.