Minister: third sector is the “golden thread” that binds our communities
Angela Constance vows to stand shoulder to shoulder with charities - as a major funding deal is announced
A senior Scottish Government minister made a robust defence of the third sector – calling it a “golden thread” which runs through our communities.
Equalities secretary Angela Constance said recent attacks on the sector by a right wing tabloid are “completely unfounded”.
She vowed to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with charities in fighting these assaults, and praised the crucial contribution voluntary groups make to Scottish society.
Constance spoke at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (SCVO) Gathering conference, as it was revealed by TFN that there is widespread anxiety throughout the sector over the financial future.
She said: “Despite what some media stories would have us believe, public trust in charities in Scotland remains very high. An SCVO survey found that 89% of people have contributed to a charity and 82% agreed that charities are trustworthy and act in the public interest.
“We have a robust system of regulation and a strong legal framework, but it’s what that system supports that matters – and that’s the vital work to support communities and to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable.
“Attacks on the sector are ill founded I will always speak out against any such attacks.”
Calling the third sector and civil society a “golden thread” in our communities, she said: “Whether small or large, expanding or collaborating, Scotland’s third sector organisations make a huge contribution and has a crucial role to play in delivering the change we need.
“There has never been amore important time for me to make clear that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the sector.”
Constance used her appearance at the Gathering to announce £1.9 million funding for local groups and organisations across Scotland.
This, she said, will be used to tackle poverty and mitigate UK government welfare changes.
The funding will ensure those working at the most local level can deliver direct support to communities, by, for example, improving access to everyday essentials like food and toiletries, providing free meals to children during school holidays and offering basic furniture and household equipment to those in need, as well as giving welfare and work advice and support direct to where people are – including cafes, schools and playgroups.
It builds on work that has been developed with SCVO, the Development Trusts Associations Scotland and the Scottish Community Alliance.
This further investment will be delivered from2017 to 2020, and will enable local organisations to secure a three-year rolling funding commitment to their work.
John Downie, director of public affairs at SCVO, said: “This new and long-term funding from the Scottish Government for building the capacity and resilience of communities and local third sector organisations is very welcome.
“This funding will be warmly welcomed by many small grass roots organisations who desperately need new avenues for sustainable income to support their valuable work with local people and communities.
“The long term nature of the funding is especially welcome. It will help provide greater stability and security for the third sector organisations involved, and sets a strong example for statutory bodies and other funders to follow.”
Angus Hardie, from the Scottish Community Alliance, said: “Pilot projects we have run have demonstrated that communities know best and that small amounts of money to grass roots organisations, distributed through community anchor organisations, have both reach and impact."