News December 2021

BGEA/SFC Statement

Our statement is now available.

The Robertson Trust is one of Scotland’s leading independent grant-making organisations. It funds, supports and champions the work of Scotland’s third sector, to improve the lives of people experiencing poverty and trauma.

Today the Trust reached an agreement with The Free Church of Scotland at Stirling (The Free Church) and The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Limited (BGEA) in relation to civil actions brought forward against the funder after it cancelled the hire of its facilities by the organisations.

Following negotiations in relation to the actions, The Robertson Trust has agreed to pay the BGEA and The Free Church a total of £20,000 towards expenses.

Mark Batho, chair of the board of trustees at The Robertson Trust, said:

“The Robertson Trust is committed to advancing equality and diversity for everyone living in Scotland. As well as fostering a respectful and welcoming community within the Trust, we are guided by our values in how we work in partnership with organisations from across the sector.

“The Trust’s long standing funding policy (1) legitimately states that we do not fund or support the promotion of any particular religious or political beliefs. We recognise that in applying our funding policy to the hire of our facilities, which are available at substantially subsidised rates to charities and community groups, we inadvertently breached the Equality Act 2010.

“We have a proud record of working with Scotland’s charities and community groups, including many faith-based organisations with whom we will continue to work very closely. In the decade ahead we remain committed to offering at least £200 million in funding to support inclusive community projects that make a real difference to people and places facing the hardship of poverty and trauma. We will do so whilst promoting diversity and equal rights for all.”

Mark Batho added:

“We will continue to work with the  third sector towards a Scotland where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Our focus remains on funding and supporting their invaluable work, including that of faith-based organisations whose activities are well aligned with our strategy, to help reduce and prevent the negative impacts of poverty and trauma.”

For background:

1. One of the central policies of The Robertson Trust is that it does not fund or support activities which incorporate the promotion of political or religious beliefs, or requests for salaried posts where there is a requirement for the post holder to be of a particular faith or none. Further information about our funding policy is available here. The Robertson Trust accepts that by applying the funding policy to cancel the bookings made by BGEA and The Free Church, it inadvertently breached the Equality Act 2010.

2. The Robertson Trust provides support to Scotland’s third sector in very practical ways, including the provision of high-quality, modern spaces for working and meeting. The hire of facilities is offered both at commercial rates and at a subsidised rate for charities and community groups. At present, due to Covid-19, the Trust’s facilities are closed to external bookings and our rental policy is under review.

3. The Robertson Trust has longstanding relationships with many diverse faith-based groups across Scotland. It has funded over 130 religious organisations over the past six years, distributing over £2.5 million to their community-based projects. This funding is for community projects well aligned to our strategy, rather than religious activities.