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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.

Hopes for a better future as many new Scots MPs have experience in the third sector


Charity experience looms large with the new intake of MPs

Campaigners are hoping MPs with links to charities will boost social justice in Scotland.

Several MPs have experience in the sector, from aid organisation to anti-poverty work, housing and education.

While many have direct links, others have either campaigned or fundraised for organisations in Scotland.

Unsurprisingly after its landslide victory, Labour MPs dominate the list.

Labour MP for Stirling and Strathallan Chris Kane is chair of a development trust and former trustee of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery. He was also a trustee of the Fair Play Association.

Richard Baker, Labour MP for Glenrothes and Mid-Fife, worked for Age Scotland and then Enable – the care charity for people with learning disabilities.

Melanie Ward controversially hit the headlines because of her role as CEO of Medical Aid for Palestinians. There were calls for her to resign after it was announced she was standing as a Labour candidate for Kirkcaldy following Kier Starmer’s refusal to back a ceasefire in Gaza.

Dunfermline and Dollar Labour MP Graham Downie was previously a communications manager for Nesta between 2008 to 2012.

Imogen Walker, Labour MP for Hamilton and Clyde Valley, is a trustee of her local Scottish SPCA and former board member of the Greek Animal Welfare Fund.

Labour’s Frank McNally, who is MP for Coatbridge and Bellshill, founded school meals charity Club 365 to support under-privileged children and families in the region.

Further west, Inverclyde MP Martin McCluskey worked for Voluntary Services Overseas for two years.

Irene Campbell, Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran, was chair of North Ayrshire Women’s Aid and a trustee of Splash which is working to restore an open air swimming pool in Saltcoats.

Labour MP for Ayr Carrick and Cumnock Elaine Stewart has worked in various third sector roles, including the Coalfields Development Trust.

Midlothian Labour MP Kirsty McNeill was executive director of policy at Save the Children.

Lib Dem MP for Inverness, Skye and Ross-shire, Angus MacDonald, gifted a cinema to his town, founded the Caledonia Challenge which has raised more than £15 million for charity and founded a charitable trust.

Pete Wishart, Perth and Kinross SNP MP, is a trained community worker and director of Fast Forward which promotes healthy lifestyles.

And in the northeast Stephen Gethins, the SNP MP for Broughty Ferry, worked for international organisations Saferworlds and NGO Links.

In terms of the cabinet, experience in the charity sector has accelerated the most dramatically of all with this current intake.

Starmer has appointed eight cabinet members who have previously worked within the charity sector - a quadrupling of charity experience at the top of government.

Lisa Nandy, a former charity worker and who previously served as the shadow minister for civil society, will lead the government department that contains the charities brief. 

Nandy was appointed culture secretary and her new department contains responsibility for a range of areas including charities, gambling, tourism, sport, the creative industries and cultural property and heritage. 

Of all 650 elected MPs in the UK some 242 have publicly advertised their backgrounds in the charity sector.



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