"“I want everyone to feel special and valued and they will see what they can aspire to.”"
This short but impactful statement by Ethel Robertson has been guiding our work since she, along with her sisters Elspeth and Agnes, founded The Robertson Trust in 1961.
Today, some 60 years later, we remain true to the founding principles of the Robertson sisters. As we prepare to launch our new ten-year strategy later this month, we are as committed as ever to working with and for communities, now and in years to come and supporting them to co-design and share solutions that work for communities in Scotland
The world we live and work in is changing. Even before the Covid-2019 global health crisis, technological advances, changes to working patterns and climate change had already brought about fundamental shifts in how we live our day to day lives and will continue to do so over the coming decades. As with Covid-19, it is likely that these changes will impact most on those who are already facing financial hardship.
For this reason, we are committed to investing in excess of £200m over the next decade into communities across Scotland working to tackle poverty and trauma. In doing so we want to build on our heritage, experience and knowledge as a funder, while recognising that the world we are operating in requires a different approach to tacking the complex problems that face society today.
A sharper focus on poverty and trauma
Poverty and trauma affect people’s health and wellbeing in a multitude of ways; including adversely affecting mental and physical health, wellbeing, education and can affect their life chances. Our strategic direction continues the work we have undertaken previously but will sharpen our focus around poverty and trauma, and put the focus on working alongside communities, and the organisations working with them, to affect lasting change.
The current global health crisis has demonstrated clearly the role that communities, and the organisations working with them, have in addressing need and enacting change. But the crisis has also highlighted the huge strain that these communities and organisations were already under, and the need they have for better resource and support.
To achieve our vision, we must be progressive, connected and work intelligently. The scale and complexity of the challenges presented by poverty and complex trauma, and the wider changes our world is facing, are far too big for any one of us to address on our own. We will work across sectors, but with a particular focus on the third sector, to support and enable communities experiencing poverty or trauma.
This is only the beginning
As part of our strategy launch we will share our ambition and path to becoming a funder that is committed to evolving with the needs of those we fund, and the communities and individuals they support.
This includes dissolving traditional power dynamics between funders and those they fund, being approachable and transparent, listening to the voices of the third sector and the communities and people it supports, and giving them a platform for leadership.
Over the initial period of the strategy, we will continue to invest into communities through our grants programme and our scholarship programme. However, we will also use this initial period to build our own understanding and to help us identify where we can most effectively make a difference and add value. Initially, this will include developing our understanding of how we can best fund, support and inform young people through education and into work based on our experience in this area to date.
The good news is that poverty and complex trauma are not inevitable; there are things that we can all do to address and mitigate their causes and impacts and support a fair and compassionate society where everyone is valued and able to flourish. But for change to happen, we need to work differently, we need to work smarter and we need to work together.
In the weeks and months ahead, we look forward to sharing more detail about our strategy, funding and areas of work, and most of all to working with the third sector, organisations, communities and individuals to listen to what they need during these unprecedented time, and beyond.
The scale and complexity of the challenges presented by poverty and complex trauma, and the wider changes our world is facing, are far too big for any one of us to address on our own. However, collectively, with a clear shared goal, and a will to change, there is nothing we cannot achieve.