Plaudits given as chief of family charity retires

Eleanor McEwan is retiring from her role as Chief Executive of Home-Start Aberdeen.

THE board of leading local family charity, Home-Start Aberdeen, bids farewell to its Chief Executive, Eleanor McEwan, this month as she retires from the role after five years in the post. With a background in social housing and community development spanning more than three decades, Eleanor took the helm at Home-Start Aberdeen in 2018 and successfully steered the charity through the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing economic crisis.

Her strong track record in delivering community-led projects and supporting the growth of empowered communities were key to her appointment, as Chair of the charity’s board, Anne MacDonald, recalls: “Eleanor has experience in developing robust and effective partnerships across the public, private and third sectors, which was attractive to us as we wanted to build on our existing networks across the city.”

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Her many achievements in the post have been wide-ranging, as Anne continues:  “Eleanor was tasked with raising our profile in the city, promoting who we are and how we make a difference for local families. She developed evaluation and monitoring frameworks, and introduced us to impact reporting and the power of PR and digital marketing to get us noticed in the city. This produced measurable results – our social media following has increased steadily and our refreshed website allows us to share more of our stories with more people than ever before. Through Eleanor, we’ve engaged with many new partners and in particular, our perinatal mental health project has led to exciting new relationships with NHS Grampian.”

Leading a team of 13 and working with the board and partners, Eleanor oversaw the implementation of a new management information system and led the migration of the charity’s IT systems to the Cloud.  “This allowed us to work remotely throughout Covid-19, and crucially to deliver our support to families online and eventually outdoors.  Without this, our services would have stopped entirely during the lockdown periods,” explains Anne.

An easy-going nature and a commitment to doing a good job helped Eleanor excel in the role, according to Anne: “Eleanor is easy to get on with and will do whatever it takes to get a job done.  Like me, she likes a good rant but professionally she’s unflappable. She was keen that her team develop themselves professionally, and trusted them to thrive without constant supervision and direction.  Eleanor was an effective and trusted chief executive – the hub that allowed the spokes to move freely.   Above all, she loved being able to help vulnerable families, to see them build strength, capacity and confidence,  to make a difference for children.”      

Anne is confident Eleanor’s retirement won’t be a quiet one: “I know she’ll enjoy this time to the full.  I’ve no doubt she and her husband will be setting out on many new adventures together and some trips are already in the diary!”

Fellow board members add their tributes to their well-liked Chief Executive: “After years of  commitment  to the volunteers, the team, the Board and most importantly, the children and families supported by Home-Start Aberdeen, Eleanor has earned a well-deserved retirement,” says Anne Donaldson, while Rob Burnett adds: ” Eleanor has done a fantastic job leading the charity in a very challenging time and leaves us in a strong place, better equipped than ever to help Aberdeen families.”

The entire team at Home-Start Aberdeen expresses its profound gratitude to Eleanor for her five years of devoted service and wishes her all the best for a well-earned retirement.

For over 30 years Home-Start Aberdeen has been supporting vulnerable families across the city to prevent family crisis and breakdown.  These families have at least one child under the age of five and are typically affected by social isolation, bereavement, relationship problems, illness, disability and financial hardship. Home Start Aberdeen positively welcomes and seeks to ensure we achieve diversity.  We encourage interest from all regardless of age, race, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or nationality.   For more information on Home-Start Aberdeen visit     

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