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Member Spotlight - ScotsCare

There are 340,000 first and second generation Scots in London. And when people fall on hard times, ScotsCare is there to provide support.

Tell us a bit about your charity’s history

The origins of ScotsCare can be traced back to the union of the crowns of Scotland and England in 1603, when James VI became James I of England and travelled south to reign from London. Many Scots followed him to the capital to forge a living where many thrived and became successful. Inevitably some fared less well, and had the added difficulty of being ineligible for parish relief, a form of social security at the time. This prompted a group of benevolent Scots merchants and craftsmen to meet regularly, and contribute to the ‘Scots Box’, creating a fund, or safety net, for their less fortunate compatriots to draw on.

Who do you support and what support do you offer?

In its modern form, the Royal Scottish Corporation, or ScotsCare as it’s been known since 2005, is still a lifeline for many. Our vision is to end the cycle of deprivation experienced by Scots, particularly children and families, working-age adults and older people in London, through a range of financial, practical and emotional support.

We provide a wide range of services, including financial support, family activity holidays, advocacy, counselling, job coaching, sheltered housing, and social events and volunteering.

What makes you unique?

We are a modern 21st-century organisation with a 400-year-old history providing comprehensive support for all first and second-generation Scots and their children in and around Greater London.

Can you give an example of someone you have helped?

Mary, who suffers from long term mental ill-health along with chronic arthritis resulting in reduced mobility, made contact with our Advocate after the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) decided she was fit for work and placed her in the Work-Related Activity Group.

The Advocate helped Mary draft a tribunal submission, noting the main areas for appealing the DWP decision. Dealing with such sensitive issues was not an easy task for Mary.

The Advocate worked with Mary for over a year, during which time she continued to receive a reduced benefit rate. Her washing machine broke down and we were able to purchase a new one for her along with new carpets. She would never have been able to purchase these goods on her very limited income.

The appeal process, which was successful, took 14 months to conclude resulting in a significant back payment for our client.

What is your charity working on now?

This year we would like to focus on children and families and try to provide them with opportunities that are unaffordable to them. Alongside our well-established clothing and activity grants for children, we would like to offer more support to parents. We are in the process of creating a new role within the charity specifically for this purpose. A family support worker role who will work alongside parents and help them navigate systems that are sometimes very frustrating and complex.

Again with our families in mind, we want to grow our volunteer programme and offer befriending for parents who can often be isolated, on low incomes and struggling to cope.

What issues are of concern to you at the moment?

The growing number of children with special educational needs, and some with mental health issues, not getting the right support seems to be a concern for our clients – this is one area that we hope our new family support worker will assist with. The other issue, the same for lots of others, is Universal credit and the 5-week wait. We see a lot of clients who are using food banks and come to us due to fuel poverty.