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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.

Setting sail for social responsibility

This opinion piece is almost 2 years old

Gordon McKillop explains CalMac's locally focussed funding

The CalMac Community Fund  was set up to benefit the lives of people living in our communities by helping non-profit groups to achieve their goals.

Evidence gathered for a recent social value impact report shows that it is achieving this goal - since its creation in 2019, around 11,000 people and almost 200 non-profit groups have been supported with an award of between £500 and £2,000 each.

The fund, which is managed through CalMac’s Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) team, was formed because CalMac wanted to support the Clyde and Hebrides’ communities it serves. Not only as a service provider, but as a local employer – more than 70% of its staff live in the islands and mainland port towns it sails to and from. Like any community across the country, you’ll find social issues and challenges that we feel we are well placed to address – particularly after Covid.

We are now seeing communities reporting that their involvement with the Community Fund has led to improvements in health and wellbeing; education and skills; social and community; and employment and volunteering opportunities. Projects such as mental health support groups, community transport in rural areas, counselling for young people and their families, and youth groups are just some examples of Fund recipients.

Our CSR work is so much more than just corporate giving. Our community investment programmes were created to add value and make a difference. Our fund is shaped by listening to communities to understand the most material issues and challenges and designing programmes to meet the local need.

And it’s not just about the company making monetary awards to enable powerful causes. CalMac staff are also actively involved in a scheme through which they share their skills and expertise with students in a bid to benefit local charities and tackle social issues. Through the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative, run by the Wood Foundation, 30 CalMac employees have volunteered to mentor and support 2,360 secondary school pupils as they bid for funding for local causes.

With support from CalMac’s mentors young people engaging in YPI have gained valuable skills including improved communication, research skills and teamworking. It’s increased their confidence and developed an increased awareness of the needs of local communities.

For an organisation to carry out its CSR commitments successfully, it should be an important part of the business. Here at CalMac, one of our core values say it all: “Locality - we act in the best interest of the places we serve.”

Gordon McKillop is corporate and social responsibility manager at CalMac.

For more information about the CalMac Community Fund, including how to apply, visit