Getting to Know...Colin

A blog post by Colin Hegarty

Colin Hegarty
Environmental Services Coordinator

Posted 24/01/2022

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We interviewed Colin, a long-standing member of #TeamKSBScot, about how Keep Scotland Beautiful and his role has changed over the (almost) 20 years he has worked here.


When did you start work at Keep Scotland Beautiful?

I started in 2002, yes, there were probably still some members of staff in primary school then. When I joined it was a very different charity, there were only about ten or maybe twelve of us. I came in for a three-month project, found that I really enjoyed it and was offered a permanent contract doing another project and I’m still here. I’ve held about six different roles, so it’s been a really diverse experience. When I started, because of the small team, each person had their own project and they had to do everything for the project including comms and press so it’s really changed over the years.


How else has the charity changed since you started?

When I started, we were providing support and acting as the campaigns arm of Keep Scotland Beautiful, through a programme called People and Places – a network of local authorities and other bodies driving change, creating national campaigns and bringing organisations together. Keep Scotland Beautiful was part of the UK charity ENCAMS (Environmental Campaigns) where the four constituent parts of the UK came together as one organisation.

Changes came pretty fast when we were asked to ‘go and do more’. The Scottish Waste Awareness group were housed as part of Keep Scotland Beautiful at that time and a lot of the people working in that group actually went on to become the staff of Zero Waste Scotland when that was founded. We grew pretty rapidly during that time and in 2006/07 we had grown from the ten or twelve people to approximately 120 people. Big changes.

There were a lot of changes over the years due partly to work streams, but the actual subject matter doesn’t change – people still litter, the climate emergency’s still here, the looming litter emergency is still here. What has changed is how we approach it, that’s the biggest change.


How has your role changed and what does a typical day or week look like?

My first long-term role was as a Training and Monitoring Officer, so I was the first person in Scotland to look after the LEAMS programme, which we still run, and now I’m an Environmental Services Coordinator. I deal with everybody and anybody from local authorities to private organisations, public bodies to individual members of the public meaning I have about twenty different hats I wear, all with different roles and sectors written on them. In one meeting I could be advising on street furniture (the placement, how to maintain it…), then I could be giving Climate Emergency Training to a housing association, then writing a report for the Wheatley Group, discussing auditing frameworks with a public body, and then working on National Award for Environmental Excellence®. Every day is different, but I try to organize my schedule, so a certain day is dedicated to a specific sector – a day for housing, one for enforcement, or training, or team stuff and Friday… I don’t know, clean the windows.


How has your work changed during the last couple of years?

This job is not about the individual, it’s about the place so we were hit hard (just like everyone) during lockdown. Visits for Local Environmental Quality audits stopped so now we are working with clients to catch up on what they had hoped to do during that time. Apart from the pandemic, there have been massive changes from working mainly with local authorities to working with private organisations who are looking to meet their environmental ambitions and have a third party check them out. Firstly, we need to help them understand where they are in terms of the way they operate, then they can move forward.

We guide them, we don’t do it for them because they are the experts on their sector, and their organization, and they then have the tools to self-assess with some external supervision. That’s a real plus point of doing the Climate Emergency Training, it encourages the thought process and brings forward ideas from them. That is really fulfilling.

At Keep Scotland Beautiful, no matter what area we’re working in, whether it’s campaigns or climate emergency training, community work or in education our job is to put ourselves out of business. Our ultimate ambition is to put ourselves on the dole because if we get to the stage where Keep Scotland Beautiful is no longer needed, then we have done our job right.

Want to work with us? Keep an eye on our Join Us pages, where we advertise all new vacancies and volunteering opportunities.


We’re supporting the Scottish Government's public consultation which seeks to tackle litter and flytipping in Scotland. Find out more and have #YourSayOnLitter.

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