The Scottish Government has praised the vital work of church-based community projects and called for greater partnership working to help tackle some Scotland’s most pressing social needs.
Speaking at a Serve Scotland reception in the Scottish Parliament last night Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities told volunteers from across Scotland that their work had never been more important in tackling poverty, and celebrated the vital role that these groups play in building a better Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities Angela Constance said at the event:
“The reality is that your work has never been more important. We continue to face challenging economic circumstances, and too many people continue to live in poverty in Scotland.
“Achieving a fairer and more equal Scotland is at the heart of this Government’s ambitions, but we can only do so with the help of faith communities and organisations. And you are already part of these efforts. You are tackling homelessness, helping to close the attainment gap, supporting refugee integration, alleviating food poverty, and building more connected communities day in and day out.
“Critically, you are deeply rooted within the communities that you serve and you act as a place of sanctuary and warmth for many. Your kindness, and compassion is helping to improve the lives of people all over Scotland.
“I’m passionate in the belief that if Scotland works together we can really make an impact on poverty and inequality. And I’m clear that different faith groups and community organisations can and do play a vital part in creating the Scotland that we all want to see.
“I look forward to working with you all to build a Scotland that we can be proud of.”
Commenting on the significance of this work, Fred Drummond, Chair of the Serve Board and National Director of Evangelical Alliance Scotland, said:
“At a time of increased public sector budget cuts there has never been a more important time for churches to be effectively serving their local communities. There is already a huge amount of good work being done across Scotland from local lunch clubs, to night shelters, food banks, to refugee integration and Serve Scotland exists to help churches work together to make this work even more effective.
“Serve Scotland also exists to help the local and national government connect with this sector and we look forward to partnering further with the Scottish Government to tackle some of Scotland’s most pressing social needs. We believe the Church is a good news story for Scotland and as we work in communities across the nation we are working to see greater hope, flourishing and positive transformation for all the of the communities we serve.”
The Serve Scotland coalition brings together some of Scotland’s best known Christian community organisations such as Bethany Christian Trust, Glasgow City Mission, Blythswood Care, Home for Good, Safe Families for Children and Care for Scotland who have joined the Evangelical Alliance in setting up umbrella group to bring together the Christian voluntary sector in Scotland at both a local and national level.
Based on the highly successful Gweini model in Wales, local pilot groups have now been launched in Glasgow and Dundee with conversations also taking place in the Highlands, Western Isles and Edinburgh about local networks. Serve Scotland shares best practice and resources and acts as a point of contact for local authorities, who are increasingly seeking effective community partnership with churches in a time of increasing budget cuts.
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