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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.

The beating heart of our essential sector


VASLan chief executive Steven Sweeney and SCVO head of policy and research Kirsten Hogg reflect on the connections between #EssentialSector and #KeepTheBeatAlive  


As SCVO launched the #EssentialSector campaign in March 2023, at the same time at VASLan (the Third Sector Interface for South Lanarkshire) we were asking ourselves some big questions. Like, ‘what kind of TSI do we want to be’, and ‘what would we do differently if we were even more sector led’. ‘How do we further amplify the voices of local grassroots organisations’? 

That #EssentialSector launch sparked some thinking in our own wee patch of the world amongst third sector leaders.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do a follow up, with a local feel, with national ambitions, that champions and celebrates volunteers, community organisations, charities and social enterprises at every turn?

At VASLan HQ, we challenged ourselves. If we are genuinely to be values led, to speak up for what we believe in, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the sector locally, can we accept more of the same? No, we need to be brave, bold and unapologetic, and step into a campaigning space. 

#KeepTheBeatAlive has been co-produced with over 100 local organisations, its created huge energy, momentum and excitement at a local level, and brought hope during challenging times. We are more co-ordinated, connected and coherent as a sector locally than we have ever been. The third sector in South Lanarkshire has three asks of local, but especially national, policy shapers and decision makers; recognise our value, be smarter about funding, and meaningfully engage with us.

We stand together with SCVO and on Fair Funding calls, and constructively challenge other infrastructure organisations to take this step with us, co-producing campaigns in your own space and demanding more for our sector. Help us #KeepTheBeatAlive! 


The four extraordinary stories at the heart of #KeepTheBeatAlive are a fantastic complement to the #EssentialSector films, showcasing the amazing work of the voluntary sector, and keeping up the tradition of giving me goosebumps every time I watch them. 

It can sometimes be hard to truly explain the role of Scotland’s voluntary organisations in contributing to our economy and truly changing lives, but the films in both campaigns are amazing resources in helping us to tell those stories. 

It’s fantastic too that VASLan’s campaign highlights our calls for Fair Funding for the sector.  Although I wish that they didn’t need to, it’s brilliant to know that voluntary organisations across South Lanarkshire think we’re pushing in the right direction with that work, and that local endorsement strengthens our voice with decision makers. 

Scotland’s voluntary sector is facing enormous challenges, but in the face of that adversity is continuing to do amazing things. 

National and local infrastructure bodies are here to champion and defend our #EssentialSector with decision makers at all levels in Scotland, and these fantastic campaigns give us the tools we need to do that work.

Steven Sweeney is chief executive of Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire (VASLan); Kirsten Hogg is head of policy and research for The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).



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