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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Past tense: TFN's members-only news review!

This feature is about 3 years old

Looking over the past month - exclusive for SCVO members

Hello and welcome to TFN’s first ever members-only news review.

This is an evolving space which we have created to give SCVO members a bit extra.

As we progress, we hope to include more and different types of content. As TFN’s editor, I intend to kick-start things by taking a monthly overview of our daily news output. Our small team works very hard to cover news across the country’s voluntary sector and civil society and it can be easy to miss things on our constantly updated website (best way to keep up is to subscribe to our bulletins – here).

First, to kick things off, a bit about myself. I’m a journalist to trade, having spent 25 years in the industry, from locals in Scotland and England to nationals north of the border. In what could be described as an, er, varied career I gained a knowledge of the country’s voluntary sector first during my spell as news editor of the Big Issue in Scotland, and then – during a period spent freelancing – as a regular contributor to the old Third Force News newspaper in the mid-noughties.

I was delighted when I got the opportunity to come back to SCVO in 2014 as TFN’s news editor – journalism is a tough old gig these days (and it’s getting tougher), but it’s good to feel that your efforts might be making a difference to someone, somewhere. Hopefully.

I was even more delighted to take up the editorship last year and to have been part of the brilliant TFN team which has steered the title through some very difficult times.

In many ways we’re still finessing our reader offer. We continue to monitor the situation as to when we can return to print and we have just launched our app. This members’ section is part of that. If you have any ideas about what you’d like to see here, please email me on

So, the news review. What I will do is update monthly, providing an overview of some of the bigger stories we have covered over the past month.

As this is the first one and as I’m already waffled on for more than 300 words, I will keep this succinct and start with what we’ve had of May so far.

The big event – not just in TFNland, obviously – was the elections to the Scottish Parliament. We covered the campaign from a voluntary sector point of view pretty extensively, but when it came to the aftermath…. we tried, but we struggled. This wasn’t our own powers failing us, but reflected the fact that when it was all over, not much had changed – arithmetically. I cover what it might mean in terms of the national question (as us old lefties always call it) in Scotland in the  editorial column of this month’s magazine.

I think we struggled to cover the aftermath because there wasn’t much of an aftermath. No-one in the country’s voluntary sector really said anything. Is this because there wasn’t much to say? Maybe, but I always think you should say something anyway.

There was a welcome increase in the diversity of the parliament, and loads of new faces. Maybe these will produce more newslines in the future.

A well-read story we published this month was about a poll by Ecclesiastical about the impact steering organisations through the Covid crisis is having on charity leaders. The group’s (UK-wide) snapshot showed that half say they could quit because of the toll this has taken on them. Scotland-only figures were not available, but there’s no reason to assume this is not a problem here. This was backed up when we spoke to Acosvo – and it’s an issue that TFN will be returning to.

Obviously, the Covid pandemic has been tough for everyone, not just charity chief execs. And for the world’s absolute poorest and most desperate, it took an even worse turn when the UK Tory government pushed through huge cuts to the aid budget.

This has massive implications in two directions, both linked. First, the basic impact on the ground, at the delivery point – and also for the capacity of the charities and NGOs delivering them. This is a time of absolute crisis for the international aid sector – and it’s an issue I don’t feel has had the prominence it deserves.

It’s also one of those where you have more than a sneaking suspicion that these were cuts that were always coming from an administration ideologically opposed to international aid, and that Covid has – disgracefully – been used as a cover.

We’re looking into this as well at TFN – so watch this space.

Positive news this month included the welcome rebirth of people power and community solidarity was saw during the events of Kenmure Street in Glasgow, where people massed to stop the deportation of their neighbors by the Home Office. Certainly brought a smile to the face of this aging poll tax campaign veteran.

As stated, the format of this review is evolving. The aim is to keep it informal. So I’m going to end with an indulgence.

An upside of home working has been listening to loads more music, so I’m going to sign off with a home-working listening recommendation.

This month- some mighty fine roots reggae in the shape of Heart of the Congos by The Congos. Any other recommendations, why not stick them in the comments below?