Remembering Marion Gibbs who died on 7 December 2022
Marion was at the very centre of Scotland’s housing sector. For over 30 years, her life’s work was focused on those in the most housing need; people affected by homelessness, overcrowding and those in unsuitable, unsafe or temporary accommodation.
Marion cared deeply for those issues, but heartily resisted any maudlin or sentiment around it. She was driven instead by a sense of equality and fairness, by what’s right. She was a leading champion for how good law and policy should be used to protect, defend and enable people.
Marion especially cherished her role at Scottish Government that she took up in 2009. It represented to her a position where she could best put to good use her culmination of experience and knowledge. She was not what you would call a typical civil servant. She knew so much yet wore that knowledge lightly. Her equal grasp of the strategic big picture combined with a grounded understanding of how things worked in the real world – all shared with clarity and warmth in equal measure – won the deep trust and respect of Ministers and colleagues alike. She so precisely articulated the responsibility of national and local government in ensuring everyone has a home and was also so pivotal within the structures to deliver on it.
Recently Marion contributed to a journal being published to mark a key policy milestone. It is no surprise that her article was about the importance of partnership and trust, on keeping momentum going and on working together. She was the sector’s go-to for information, advice and insight. She really shone as a regular and popular conference chair, keynote speaker and expert panellist within and beyond Scotland – leading debates and discussions in her deep Aberdonian brogue.
A life’s work involves not just advocating for progress but also defending against anything that takes us backwards. Marion did both persuasively, collaboratively and tirelessly and never shied away from speaking truth to power. There are less than a handful of people in Scotland who have been involved in such an important landscape and spanning such an important period. Marion was not just one of them, she was the lynchpin.
We owe her a lot and we’ll miss her.
Marion’s family are holding a private funeral service next week, while a bigger celebration will be held in Spring so that everyone who wants to will have the opportunity to come together and pay tribute. We hope to share more details of that event in the new year.
Lorna Gibbs has set up a charity fundraiser for Stonewall in loving memory of her partner which is welcoming donations here.