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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.

Working with the third sector for the good of our children

This opinion piece is about 8 years old

Aileen Campbell MSP on a new £12m third sector fund and the importance of voluntary groups organisations in creating a fairer Scotland.

The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be the best place to grow up – it’s an ambition we can all share and work towards for our children and young people.

We know that investing in children’s earliest years is key to helping them get the best start in life.

That has real short term benefits for children and their families but also a longer term impact on our society and economy.

Our ambition needs more than a single policy or programme, a single organisation or even just a single government to deliver it.

This is about working together across policies and across public and voluntary services to make a positive difference for every child and young person, every family, every time.

Working with the third sector for the good of our children

We'll keep working to ensure all our children get the best possible start in life - they deserve nothing less

In 2014 we passed the Children and Young People’s Act – landmark legislation which, together with the whole Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach, is having a positive impact on families right across the country.

GIRFEC underpins all that we are doing to put the child or young person at the heart of decisions that affect them.

The voluntary sector plays a significant role in supporting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and families.

I, along with my fellow ministers, am absolutely committed to continue supporting the role the third sector plays in this vital work.

We recognise the vital contribution charities and voluntary organisations make to the key themes of our Programme for Government – tackling inequality and poverty, improving attainment and boosting the economy.

They bring expertise, knowledge, skills, creativity, innovation and very often, additional funding to the mix – and this helps deliver on our shared aims.

We have also brought funding to the relationship, not least through our direct third sector budget of £24.5 million which we are maintaining in 2016-17.

Over and above this, we have invested £45m since 2013 in the Third Sector Early Intervention Fund (TSEIF) and Strategic Funding Partnership grants.

These grants have supported an impressive range of activity – from parenting programmes to support for young people with dyslexia; from befriending services for young people affected by HIV and Hepatitis C to support for girls and young women at risk of forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

I’m proud that, in 2014-15 alone, the TSEIF helped more than 3,000 families, almost 3,500 young people and nearly 2,000 parents and carers. The report on the second year of the TSEIF highlights many more examples.

Building on the strengths of these two funds we have listened to, and worked with, national voluntary organisations to design a robust system for future funding through our new Children, Young People & Families Early Intervention and Adult Learning & Empowering Communities Fund.

I’d like to thank everyone who shared their ideas for this new fund; working cooperatively with the greater good of children, young people and families in mind.

This joint approach is a strong example of the ethos of our government – one that is open and works with stakeholders.

The new fund has a wide-ranging aim to tackle inequalities and poverty, support parents and carers, improve learning and build skills.

We were delighted to receive so many high quality applications for this new fund which were assessed through a robust and transparent process.

The new fund’s board, chaired by Fraser Falconer, made the final funding decisions and I am confident that the successful organisations will help deliver the best outcomes for some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and families.

Through the new fund, we have been able to offer funding to 29 new organisations, enabling resources to reach further to deliver activities such as peer support for mums, services to prevent child sexual exploitation, support for young carers and learning for black and ethnic minority women and children.

We have also ensured, through the fund administrator Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, that support is available to organisations who were unsuccessful – both in terms of securing alternative funding and in revising their business plans.

I am determined that we build on this fund’s early success by making it about more than the sum of its individual awards.

I want to it to strengthen national delivery of prevention and early intervention through providing the infrastructure needed to support the delivery of local services to those who need them.

So the work is really just beginning and I look forward to working with you to drive this forward.

I am determined that more of our children get a better start in life – this government will keep working to ensure that all our children get the best possible start in life. They deserve nothing less.

Aileen Campbell MSP is minister for children and young people.