Sheena Hales

We have seen people going above and beyond for their communities during Covid-19. Sheena Hales did just that. We chatted to her about her work and her favourite Edinburgh spots.

Sheena smiling at the camera with her child

Hi Sheena, tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a programme manager at NatWest and accountable for running a new initiative called the Skillbank, which has been set up in response to the emerging impact of Covid 19. It will allow us to give our professional skills to the community, not as a nice thing to do but the right thing to do to help our communities survive and thrive. I am a single mum and have an amazing 11-year old called Gregor and a barky terrier called Marnie. I live in East Calder and have benefited hugely from great neighbours, a lovely country park to run in and access to the most amazing independent retailers who have made my world in lockdown sparkle with brownies, zoom wine tasting, flowers and yummy food.

Your amazing work transforming the RBS Head Quarters Conference Centre at Gogarburn into a foodbank distribution hub has helped deliver around 6,000 meals a week to people who need them since March. What was the inspiration behind this idea?

For me, it was 24 hours after finishing a four-day retreat led by the Remarkable Women (another great local business) which was all about loving what is right in front of you here and now and finding a way of being in the real world from a place of authenticity and courage. It was before lockdown even became a word and before the school closed, I couldn’t have known then just how quickly I was about to put my new skills into action when I listened to a request from Social Bite and realised I had an opportunity to help that was too powerful to ignore.  Amazing amongst the extraordinary circumstances surrounding Covid 19, our chief executive Alison Rose and her leadership team at the Royal Bank of Scotland agreed and within one hour of my ask, we acted with urgency to help people, families and communities remotely by repurposing our RBS conference centre into a food distribution centre.

You’ve worked in partnership with local charities throughout the process – has this helped you reach more people in Edinburgh?

Totally, we focused on running the logistics of the food distribution centre and with the help of management and their volunteers at Social Bite, Trussell Trust, Cyrenians and Business in the Community, we were able to get essential food and items to the heart of the community and to those most vulnerable.

And finally, for you, what keeps Edinburgh thriving?

Supporting local businesses is so important, independent where you can. I try to always write a recommendation when I have bought a product or service I love and share it with my networks. It’s a win-win: I feel good, the business gets praise and others get to benefit from my research!

Quick fire questions

Best place to eat in Edinburgh? Honeycomb&Co is a real favourite for us

Best place to drink in Edinburgh? Bar Tonic – best cocktails ordered to your door

Best view of the city? Top of the Pentlands breathing in the cold air

Best hidden gem in the city? Down the Hatch is a wee café at Port Edgar which has amazing food – it’s a lovely location to wander about

keep edinburgh thriving
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