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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Airport celebrates unique approach to social responsibility

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​It is the only airport in Scotland to offer communities in its flight path funding to support hundreds of projects

It was only an award of £4,000 but for Ethel Turner the cash transformed her music charity from an unknown entity to a community champion.

The East Dunbartonshire group gives grants to children from low income families enabling them to take part in school orchestras by purchasing their musical instruments of choice, a cause that was recently recognised with a local Heart of Gold Award.

It’s all thanks to a little known fund which, for the past five years, has been helping community groups located around the flight path of Glasgow Airport with small but vital amounts of cash to help them flourish.

Since its inception, the fund has given over £1 million worth of donations to more than 350 charities and community groups in Renfrewshire, Glasgow and East and West Dunbartonshire with a focus on improving education and employment, as well as the environment.

Ethel's charity, Playing Proud, is just one of the many to be on the receiving end of a grant and has been transformed the lives of many young people as a result.

"Many who would never have considered playing a musical inturment now do and has become a hobby for them," she said. "They've met new friends and many are on the way to becoming accomplished musicians. It has given them real focus."

It’s a classic example of how a local employer can give back to the community and the Flight Fund is promising to expand this programme of support to more community groups than ever before.

While Glasgow may not be the worst airport in terms of disruption – strict noise abatement rules and flying hours’ curfews have been in place for years – its managers realise the impact it has on the environment as well as the surrounding communities.

Tuning back into civy street

Airport celebrates unique approach to social responsibility

Re-Tune works with a number of ex-service personnel agencies, such as Help for Heroes, in the east end of Glasgow to help boost the social skills andconfidence of those who have recently left military service.

It received £2,000 from the airport in February to train 18 veterans in musical instrument repair and woodwork skills.

As well as providing the individuals with skills to enhance their employability prospects, they will also be taught how to play stringed instruments such as the violin, guitar and cello from premises in the east end of Glasgow.

David McHarg from the Re-Tune project said: “This allows us build several new stringed instruments, one of which will be chosen and exhibited at the Craftex show within the Trades House in Glasgow later this year.”

But more than this, the airport, which is Scotland’s busiest in terms of long haul flights, sees itself as an integral part of the community and wants to increase its stature as a socially responsible local employer.

The FlightPath Fund committee operates independently of the airport and is chaired by former KPMG senior partner, Archie Hunter.

It meets every two months and also consists of an elected member or representative from each of the four council areas under the flight path.

At a celebration event in Bearsden last week Hunter called its approach “unique”.

“It is inspiring to see how it has evolved over the past five years,” he said. “It has been very encouraging to hear from some of the groups who have benefitted from the fund since its inception.

“Listening to representatives of these organisations speak passionately about the work they do makes us even more determined to continue supporting our communities.

“The monetary support of Glasgow Airport to its communities is unparalleled in this country and the whole committee looks forward to making this worth even more for worthwhile causes.”

Green fingers make light work

Airport celebrates unique approach to social responsibility

Capability Scotland received £10,150 from the airport’s 2015 Challenge Fund to help develop The Hidden Gem Garden Project in WestLane Gardens, Renfrew.

The new facility, which is also being supported by Renfrewshire Council and the Baily Thomas Foundation, will offer vital employment experience and personal development opportunities for young people with disabilities living in the Renfrewshire area.

The FlightPath Fund’s grant will be used to purchase new gardening equipment, including a lawnmower, strimmer and polytunnel, and will also go towards building an outdoor learning area which staff, volunteers and other members of the community can utilise in wet weather.

Once the garden is complete this Autumn, the project willprovide voluntary work, training and employment opportunities for people withlearning disabilities. As well as new gardening skills, the project will alsooffer art and creative skills development opportunities.

Capability Scotland is working in partnershipwith a range of bodies including the Royal Horticultural Society to delivertraining opportunities to the participants.

Elaine Fox, Project Manager at Capability Scotland, said: “We’re now be able to move forward with our plans to fully develop a gardening enterprise and the FlightPath funding will also allow the people who use our service to work in all weathers.

"We’re incredibly grateful to the FlightPath Fund for this grant which will make a real difference to the community where we are situated in Johnstone.”

Ocean Youth Trust Scotland - a leading youth work development charity which delivers an annual programme of residential sail training voyages for young people – echoes that sentiment.

It received £8,500 from the FlightPath Fund in September this year and said the cash is being used, quite literally, to transform lives.

Chief executive, Nick Fleming, gave an example of how the cash was put to good use and said small amounts of cash can make a huge impact.

“Our voyages offer young people a truly unique and life changing opportunity,” he said.

“Two voyages, supported by the FlightPath Fund, saw students from Drumchapel High School embark on a week-long voyage in September and a group of young people from Renfrewshire Children’s Home in October.

Whole different ball game

Airport celebrates unique approach to social responsibility

Children at Bearsden Primary School took part in a celebration day in May following the awardof £3,100 from the FlightPath Fund.

The grant will be spent rolling out a lunch time activity club for the youngsters called Enjoyaball.

As well as bringing healthiness, the club also helps promote an understanding of various sports, transferable skills, techniques and helps with team building as well as independence through sports.

Paul Meehan, head teacher, said; “The granting of the FlightPath Fund is fantastic news for the pupils of Bearsden Primary School.

"Weare always looking for ways to improve the school experience for our pupils andthis funding will help us to provide high quality, structured and fun gamesduring lunch times.

"Over 240 of our youngest pupils will directly benefitfrom this funding and I would like to thank the Bearsden Primary FundraisingGroup for all of their efforts and the Flight Path Fund for their considerationof our proposal.”

“Both voyages were full of learning and self-discovery. Each group had a truly fantastic experience, and managed to achieve things they never imagined they were capable of - changing their outlook on what the future could hold.”

Managing director of Glasgow Airport, Amanda McMillan, said the fund was set up to ensure that the local communities around the airport share in its success. T

And the fact that it has now surpassed £1 million is testament to the huge amount of energy and enthusiasm that the independent committee puts into operating and managing the fund.

“Five years ago we had no idea how well the fund would be received or how many lives it would touch,” said McMillan.

“The committee has helped to shape its fortunes, making the fund the excellent and reputed resource it is today.”

Ping pong comes home

Airport celebrates unique approach to social responsibility

It might be something of a niche sport but Drumchapel Table Tennis Club supports more than 1,500 children someof whom have disabilities and support needs.

The club is using a nearly £3,000 grant to purchase new table tennis tables, bats and balls, to serve every school in Drumchapel, including three special needs schools.

It operates a range of classes and games outside of school hours, including breakfast clubs, lunchtime sessions and after-school and holiday clubs.

The club also provides opportunities for community participation for children, young adults and adults.

The club has four members of staff and a group of 20 volunteers who help to deliver the schools programme.

Terry McLernon from Drumchapel TableTennis Club said: “We know that giving young people the opportunity to get involved insports like table tennis can boost their confidence, improve motivation andenhance their performance at school, as well as improving their overall fitnesslevels.

“We’re looking forward to receiving the new equipment just in time for the start of the new school term.”

In addition to being Scotland’s largest charter hub, Glasgow Airport serves more Scottish destinations than any other airport.

Supporting over 7,300 jobs across Scotland, it makes the largest contribution of any airport to Scotland’s economy, generating hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

Bearsden resident and chair of the local Rotary Club Libby Clark said more large employers should be willing to increase their involvement with the communities they profit from.

She said that that the planes caused minor inconvenience but this was being addressed by the fact the airport was willing to work with the people most affected.

Cash means club remains fighting fit

Airport celebrates unique approach to social responsibility

Voluntary group Argo Boxing Club operates boxing and exercise classes for men and women aged 9-55 and has been running for more than 40 years.

Over thistime it has become an integral part of the community and recently received agrant of £1,000 from the airport to purchase a range of new equipment,

including skipping ropes, punch bags and weights. But times have been hard and as such a cash injection of £1,000 from theFlight Fund means it can continue to play a role in the communities of Drumchapel, Clydebank, Maryhill, Duntocher andBearsden.

Davie Savage head coach at the Argo said: “The donation from the FlightPath Fund is great for us as we are self-funded.

"It has helped us upgrade basic equipment like gloves and ropes which makes a big difference.”

“It’s not a huge amount of money but can provide a crucial difference to small community groups who are desperate for support,” she said. “Other employers in local areas should be doing more of this.

It's not about taking the money and running. Businesses need to wake up to the fact that it makes sound commercial sense to support the communities in which they work and profit from.”