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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.

Charity moves its headquarters from London to Edinburgh in historic move

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Scottish charity moves “home” 200 years after it was formed

A 200 year-old armed forces charity has moved its headquarters from London to Edinburgh.

The Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET), has made the move north in a bid to be closer to the people it helps.

The charity works with schools and local authorities across Scotland to provide education support and grants to children and young people from Scottish armed forces families, including veterans and reservists, who are experiencing financial difficulties or living with ill health and disability.

Up until recently its administrative headquarter was based in an office at armed force’s charity SSAFA’s headquarters in St Dunstan’s Hill in London but following the appointment of a new chief executive RCET is now based in an office in the Church of Scotland building at 121 George Street in Edinburgh.

Being based in Scotland gives us the ability to be much closer to the children and families we work with

Colin Flinn, appointed chief executive in July, explained outgoing chief executive James McBain had been working to set up the move and stepped down when it was finalised.

As the charity’s seven staff members were already based in Scotland there has been no job losses brought about by the move.

“We now deliver alongside our grants funding, a very successful education programme in Scotland,” Flinn explained to TFN.

“Our intention is to grow and develop our services to armed forces children and young people.

“Being based in Scotland gives us the ability to be much closer to the children and families we work with, and more opportunities to develop stronger connections with the wider armed forces community in Scotland.

“Our key drivers are to continue to provide vital support and to represent the voices of children and young people from armed forces families and believe we can do so much more by being here in Scotland.”

Formed in 1815, it was originally envisaged the Royal Caledonian Asylum, as RCET was then known, would have its home in Edinburgh.

Set up to support and educate children orphaned or families made destitute through loss or injury of a father serving in the Napoleonic wars, it was soon realised that the permanent income required to fund the asylum would only be obtained with the help and generosity of the well-heeled and the great and the good of London society.

The charity opened the asylum in December 1819 and the first six boys were admitted to its premises at Hatton Garden in London.

The Caledonian Asylum eventually outgrew these premises and moved to new purpose built schools in Bushey, near Watford.

Subsequent to the schools closing in 1996 due to a decline in demand for places, RCET became a grant making charity providing education support for children of Scottish serving and veteran families in need, from its office in London with the help of a small team working remotely in Scotland.

Last year the RCET gave out over 250 grants to cover the cost of clothing, after-school activities, school trips, and other expenses to families on low incomes or living with disability and ill health.

To mark its return to Scotland the RCET held a reception in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden where rising ballet star and former beneficiary of the charity Natasha Watson (20) performed and spoke of the support she received from the RCET and the enormous difference it had made to her life.

Now a teacher and choreographer at Ballet West in Taynuilt in Argyll, she regularly performs with the Scottish Ballet and the English National Ballet. She will be dancing the lead role in Ballet West’s Swan Lake which is touring round Scotland early next year.