Sturgeon: negative forces are trying to exploit third sector

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High praise for the third sector but public confidence is being undermined by negative reporting 

21st February 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that current sexual misconduct cases can’t be allowed to undermine the work of the third sector.

Speaking at the Gathering in Glasgow's SECC, the first minister praised the “vital” work of Scotland’s charities but cautioned that negative stories were being exploited.

Sturgeon’s speech came as new statistics from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) revealed a quarter of Scots don’t trust charities.

Referring to recent misconduct cases, the first minister said the few bad instances that have been publicised should “not be allowed to define the whole.”

She told delegates: “That creates a culture of mistrust where people believe bad practice is the norm. We all know that is not true and we need to be much more proactive with the positive narrative around the vital work of the third sector. It’s not about ignoring the bad; it’s about getting a balance right.”

Sturgeon added: “It is more important than ever to focus on the third’s sector’s work; we have the ability to work collaboratively to tackle long-term challenges. As a government we won’t solve them on our own.”

Jane Salmonson, chief executive of Scotland’s International Development Alliance, who attended the first minister’s speech at the Gathering, responded.

She said: “The current crisis in our sector, caused by some disgraceful and inexcusable actions, can leave us all better equipped in the months and years ahead to identify abuse and deal with it quickly and correctly.

“The first minister also talked about the use that can be made by elements of the right wing in press and in politics for their own political ends. She is right and I am fearful for the future of the UK’s aid and development work as I watch how this episode is being weaponised.”

Elsewhere Sturgeon warned Scotland should be a leader not a laggard when it comes to human rights. Brexit, she said, threatens to weaken the country’s achievements in this field, heightened by a "deeply ambivalent reaction" to human rights by the UK government.

Celine Sinclair, chief executive of disability charity The Yard, praised the Scottish Government’s rights based legislation but cautioned that laws were very different in practice.

“There is a gap between legislation and practice,” she said. “We have really strong legislation like the Equalities Act and the Community Empowerment Act but let’s make sure that benefits the kind of people we are trying to support.”

Later the first minister also announced £6.1 million Scottish Government funding for Community Jobs Scotland.

It will support young people aged between 16 – 29 years and target those who face difficulties finding employment.