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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.

Keeping the sector's vital heartbeat going


New campaign highlights how charities are essential for communities to thrive

Charities are the heartbeat of our communities – and when they thrive we all prosper.

That’s the message from a groundbreaking new campaign which puts voluntary groups at the heart of community cohesion.

Keep The Beat Alive aims to secure greater support for third sector organisations across South Lanarkshire. 

But it has lessons for the sector across Scotland, as charities deal with a perfect storm of rising costs, shrinking funds and greater demand for services.

Keep The Beat Alive is a multi-platform project that focuses on a major new impact report, films, an animation, and a range of free resources that charities, social enterprises and community groups can use to promote a vital message. 

This campaign has been funded by Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire (VASLan), but is co-produced by the third sector organisations it is helping. 

The central message is that the third sector is the heartbeat of communities, closest to the people and essential for communities to thrive.

However, despite their critical role, organisations face ever more significant challenges, including unstable funding. This is being exacerbated by many years of austerity and, more recently, the cost of living crisis. 

Their heartbeat is failing and soon it will flatline unless things change, especially around funding.

The campaign focuses on three key 'asks' to ensure that these organisations can survive and continue to serve South Lanarkshire. These are:

  • Recognise our value: there must be a greater acknowledgement of the third sector’s indispensable role in the community, urging both the public and other sectors to appreciate and celebrate their contributions. 
  • Smarter funding required: more intelligent, strategic funding solutions that will provide the stability third sector organisations need to plan and deliver their services.
  • Better co-working with the public sector: enhancing collaboration between the third sector and public sector should improve the outcomes for people across South Lanarkshire - and beyond.

Organisations like Larkhall & District Volunteer Group (LDVG), Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI) and Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau (Hamilton CAB)have all pledged their support to the Keep The Beat Alive campaign.

Niall McShannon, director, at CCI, said: Since Covid, our organisation has experienced a massive increase in demand for our programmes but a major squeeze on our resources.

“The Keep The Beat Alive campaign asks - being valued, requiring smarter funding and opportunities for strategic engagement with the public sector about the issues facing our communities - perfectly align with our experience and our requirements so that we can continue to deliver sustainable support to the people of Clydesdale.” 

Sandra McCrory, charity manager of LDVG, said: “Being involved in the Keep The Beat Alive campaign has offered us an opportunity to showcase the great work LDVG does.

“The pressure to fill gaps left by public sector cuts has increased since Covid, and we now find ourselves oversubscribed and underfunded.

“We offer mainly preventative or early-intervention services, with a proven track record of positively impacting on mental and physical health and wellbeing – all of which reduces the pressure on public services. What happens when we are not here?”

Jennifer Howdle, manager of Hamilton CAB, added: “Hamilton CAB got involved with Keep the Beat Alive as we want the vital work of the third sector in South Lanarkshire to be truly recognised and supported.

We hope that this campaign brings about the help and support the third sector needs to continue our essential work within South Lanarkshire.”

The local initiative mirrors and compliments a similar drive by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) through its #EssentialSector campaign.

SCVO chief executive Anna Fowlie said: “I’m delighted to see this campaign from VASLan. It highlights beautifully the essential role charities, community organisations and social enterprises play in our communities. There are thousands of voluntary organisations across Scotland doing great things; we need to value them and nurture them.”

Steven Sweeney, VASLan CEO, added: “This is a campaign that has been made here in South Lanarkshire, by a wide range of different organisations. They have helped articulate a very clear message that the status quo has to go. Yes, the work they undertake is extraordinary, but their energy and capacity to continue to deliver more and more is unsustainable. 

“And so we’re calling for a greater acknowledgement of the value of the third sector; locally, but especially nationally. We appreciate there’s no pot of gold, but that doesn’t mean funding can’t be better used, more flexibility. Finally, we don’t think the relationship between the third sector and public sector is strong enough. 

“These pack-a-punch organisations have a window into communities that few others can offer. We’re part of the solution, not just folks to bid to deliver services through procurement exercises crafted without a true understanding of the need.

“Our campaign is about so many people and organisations, and it’s a complex message to deliver. We need help, we need support, and we really need it quickly. There’s passion aplenty across South Lanarkshire - and beyond - but if we don’t act quickly to reset the approach we have towards this sector, it might just be too late.”

For more information about the Keep The Beat Alive campaign, including details on how you can get involved and support these organisations, please visit

For more on SCVO's #EssentialSector campaign, click here.



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