Funding story: Is it different in Scotland?

Prospects are better for Scottish charities working overseas than for those working within the country

Vetaid recently received a grant of £23,350 from the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland for a project in Mozambique. The organisation, which is based just outside Edinburgh, is one of Scotland's largest international development agencies. It works with small-scale farmers and pastoralists, and their livestock, in four sub-Saharan countries. Being Scottish - rather than a Scottish branch - has some definite advantages, says projects co-ordinator Jenny Schwarz.

"The Scottish Executive has an international development stream," she says. "We can also highlight our 'Scottishness' in appeals to donors such as Scottish veterinary practices and to media such as BBC Scotland."

To Schwarz's mind, most of the disadvantages are the same kind of geographical ones that affect many people who live a long way from south-east England - being in a different country doesn't make a crucial difference. "For international work, it's not really relevant. I think that funding for causes within Scotland would probably be an issue."

For Tim Street, director of sexual health charity fpa in Scotland, it certainly is an issue. His team has received £244,357 from the Big Lottery Fund to develop Sexability, a community project working with young people aged 11 to 18 in the west of Scotland. The lottery, he says, is one of few funding options open to it.

"In terms of funding we're quite limited," he says. "That's partly because Scotland has a smaller population. In England, there aren't enough NHS resources to go round the population, whereas here the mainstream NHS services are doing a lot of work that used to be our core business. We also have a voluntary sector that's proportionately massive compared with England and Wales, so there is a bigger draw on what funding is available." There are also different cultural issues, he adds: "Faith groups have a lot more influence here, which affects subjects such as sexual health."

Two different perspectives, then, but from both of them it's clear that being Scottish isn't an add-on - it's a fundamental part of the organisation's identity, its funding and the governmental framework under which it operates.

This is clearly no surprise for anyone actually based in Scotland, but may be a slight shock to people who assume that Scotland is just a rather more remote area of northern England.

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