Carers of West Lothian (COWL)

Fund: Business Support in Scotland
Amount:  n/a
Region: Scotland
How the money was used:
  • Developing an overall five-year strategic plan
  • Developing an operational work plan 

Carers of West Lothian (COWL) is a well-established charity which offers a range of services to support the needs of unpaid carers and adults with disabilities. 

Social Impact

COWL was started in 1990 by a group of carers aware of their own need for information, advice and support. In more recent years, COWL’s beneficiaries have expanded to include adults with disabilities. COWL aims to support 1,000 carers, 150 young carers and 150 people with disabilities annually. COWL has been previously funded by the Lottery’s Investing in Communities grant.

How we helped

SIB support was recommended to aid the organisation in developing their strategic plan. COWL was undergoing a number of significant changes: inclusion of adults with disabilities and the appointment of a new CEO meant COWL was in a period of restructuring and looking to develop a new, more sustainable, dynamic model. There was a real appetite for this change within the organisation and all involved were keen to contribute to this development process.

With sustainability as the key outcome, it was decided to support the group with change management and strategic planning. Key priorities for the organisation included:

  • Strategic planning
  • Evidencing need
  • Staff resource allocation
  • Funding

Our approach:

  1. Familiarisation and appreciation of COWL’s background information
  2. Carrying out 1 to 1 interviews with board and staff to discuss views, identify assets and explore ideas
  3. Holding a facilitated strategy day with board and staff
  4. Producing a report gathering together all the views and ideas, recommending a way forward with a list of actions to contribute to a new five-year strategy.


What was the outcome?

Since the Strategy Day in June 2019, COWL has finalised a five-year Strategic Plan and is developing operational workplans which will be distributed in September. The research COWL did themselves in March 2019 together with the work conducted as part of the SIB support, has enabled COWL to determine some key changes in focus over the next five years:

  • To take a more place-based approach where workers will develop support in three communities in West Lothian
  • To work with more peer volunteers with lived experience to link with carers and adults with disabilities living in more rural communities
  • To use technology to reach more isolated individuals or smaller groups who may be unable to come to Livingston to attend events and groups
  • To roll out support for adults with disabilities at the end of a Pilot currently funded through Awards for All
  • To continue to look for collaboration and partnership opportunities to expand their support led by the needs of their beneficiaries


A word from COWL

“Since taking up the CEO post in March 2019, the organisation has been faced with challenges in funding, but this has given us a focus. It has also led us to identify opportunities and to look closely at how we support people, identifying changes we need to make to meet the needs of our larger beneficiary group. It’s an exciting time for the whole team, and the feedback we’re getting from stakeholders and carers supports this new way of working. Without help from Community Enterprise through SIB, this whole process would have taken longer and been a lot more painful. The independent research has allowed our staff and board to input honestly to the process, with their knowledge and expertise in supporting carers and adults with disabilities, allowing us to arrive at a more fit for purpose Strategic Plan for the next five years.” Alison Wright, CEO of COWL



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