New Chief Executive and plans at Outside the Box

Anne Connor


At the start of July I retired as Chief Executive at Outside the Box and Louise Willson – our current Depute CE – takes over as the new Chief Executive.

For me, this is a very positive and exciting stage for Outside the Box and I know Louise, with a strong board and a wonderful team, will be doing great things in the future.

In many ways it is the last step in what we set out to achieve almost 20 years ago.  At that time, a few of us knew of people who wanted to do good things for people like themselves or for their communities but were struggling to get community development support.  What they wanted do did not fit the way things were organised.

  • The gap they saw was for people with lived experience, but they saw themselves as more than people who used a particular health or social service and wanted to change how society worked for them, or at least one or two aspects of that.
  • They were part of more than one equalities community.
  • They were concerned with their natural local community, but that didn’t fit any arrangements for Councils and formal services, and even straddled across Council and NHS Board boundaries
  • They didn’t know whether they wanted to become a charity, or a social enterprise, or a community association, or just do this one activity – and hadn’t heard of any of these things so didn’t think of going to the dedicated source of support.
  • They wanted to influence and change how other people do things, and to be part of making things better.
  • They had other things happening in their lives and didn’t have the time or resources to get to the office of people who could give them support.

So a few people got together and we set up Outside the Box.  Our purpose was to support people and groups to do the things that other people said were guddly and complicated, and didn’t fit how life was supposed to be organised, and couldn’t be successful, but to the people involved were about a need that was obvious and a plan that made perfect sense.

People said there was no need for us, and we would never get funding, and it would never work.  We set up a company and a charity (how it worked back then) so the organisation could grow and adapt and would continue beyond the people who founded it.

In the past 18 years we have worked with over 1,000 small community groups, people starting on their own with an idea, and people in bigger organisations who want help to do something different.  Some have gone on to lead new ventures benefitting many people that are still flourishing, while for others it made a difference in their community and after a while people went on to do other things, and lots in between.  Some of our resources have given practical help and encouragement to hundreds of thousands of people while others have helped a hundred or so.  For us, the success is life being better for people and people and communities knowing there are more choices and opportunities that they can follow.

Every day I am amazed at what people do and the impacts they make.  We’ve worked alongside people in lots of different circumstances – this mostly stated because we heard people describing a problem that wasn’t getting picked up yet, or a pal told them we were worth talking to.  If you want to see the range of people, the topics we tackle together and the changes we have made together, there are lots of stories and examples on the website.

Looking ahead, we expect to continue working with people we know and getting involved with new communities and their priorities.  Louise and everyone at Outside the Box are looking forward to working with you.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us and worked with us over the years, and good luck in what you are doing.


Some photos from the past years

photo collage of Anne's work in OTB

And messages marking Anne’s last Board meeting at Outside the Box

"End of an era tonight - the amazing and unique Anne Connor CEO of @OtBcommunities attending her last Board meeting this evening on a night we welcomed new Board Members. Honoured to chair this org whose founder Anne has changed the lives of 1000s through her work. Thank you." "Anne and her work with @OtBcommunities has indeed changed the lives of so many people across Scotland...and indeed beyond. While she will be a huge loss, her legacy is a strong one which will endure and many more will benefit from. Thank you Anne"

We look forward to carrying on the Outside the Box legacy!