We must think and act long-term if we are to prevent future cost-of-living emergencies.
With the cost-of-living emergency facing so many people and families across Scotland this autumn and winter, it is hard to look beyond the next few months. For many families, it’ll be hard to look through the next few days, as budgets get tighter and prices get higher and higher. However, we must not forget that the seeds of the crisis we face today were planted many years ago. To prevent future crises having the same devastating impact in the years to come we must think and act long-term to drive the change we need to see on poverty in Scotland.
The Robertson Trust set out a new ten-year strategy in the autumn of 2020 which established tackling poverty and trauma as our mission to be reflected across everything we do to fund, support and influence in Scotland. In doing so, the strategy placed social change at the heart of our work and moved us explicitly beyond being solely a funder.
To deliver social change on the scale necessary to tackle poverty and trauma in Scotland, we know we will need to build programmes of work, finding the right areas to work on, and the right partners to work with, to have the greatest chance of contributing all we can to the change we want and need to see over the long-term.
That means the Trust becoming more proactive. It means us picking out, based on our research, the burning issues, individuals and organisations where there’s the greatest ability to deliver impact. It means bringing our internal expertise together from across the Trust with external expertise - amassed through both lived experience and job experience – to guide our priorities and how we deliver on them. It also means the Trust building our own positions and influence too to try to reshape the systems and structural factors that make tackling poverty, trauma and inequality the wicked problem it is.
There has been a huge amount of work over the last two years to feed our strategic aims into what we do, through our responsive funds, and through new funding streams such as Partners in Change last year. We are now launching our first open call for proposals through a new set of funds focused on long-term change, what we’re calling Programme Awards. Our Programme Awards will be focused squarely on delivering big change that lasts on poverty and trauma and will allow us to work alongside some of the organisations best placed to achieve impact on poverty and trauma in Scotland, allowing us to learn from them and them from us as we go.
"To prevent future crises having the same devastating impact in the years to come we must think and act long-term, and to drive the change we need to see on poverty in Scotland."
Our first open call for proposals goes live today. Our aim is to fund ideas and projects that have the highest potential for delivering big change that lasts in relation to tackling financial insecurity in Scotland. This will include feasibility projects, and projects designed to test and demonstrate new ideas or interventions, through to change-focused research or policy, campaigning and influencing work. It’s open to charities with an annual income of more than £100,000 and to partnerships and will aim to complement not duplicate the funding available through our existing funds. This is a new and big commitment from the Trust, with an initial budget of around £2m for this call. If you would like to find out more please see here for our priorities for this call and the types of work we will seek to fund.
But it is not our only commitment. The Trust is doing a great deal to try to help people through what we know will be an incredibly difficult autumn and winter. There will be more that my colleagues can share on that soon. And we’re planning to extend our Programme Awards across all of our four themes* over time, taking our total financial commitment to £75m over 2022-25, with £15m of that focused on Programme Awards.
It is hard to think long-term when the immediate challenges are so pressing. And we have been living through what feels more and more like an age of emergencies, stretching back through this cost-of-living emergency, the Covid-19 pandemic and at least back to the financial crash 15 years ago, if not many generations before. We know our size places the Trust as one of Scotland’s largest independent funders. However, we also know that the scale of the challenge we have set ourselves is massive.
We will only be successful if we commit to the belief that things can change – we’ve made progress before and we know we can again – if we build the participation, partnerships and coalitions necessary to make change irresistible, and if we build social change over the long-term to reshape the systems and structures that sit underneath why we have the levels of poverty, trauma and inequality that we do.
If you have an idea that you think has the potential to deliver big change that lasts on poverty trauma please do get in touch with us and keep an eye out for opportunities to work with us across what we do to fund, support and influence in Scotland.
*The Robertson Trust has four thematic priorities. As well as Financial Security, these are: