My Column

Smart move to hound for pounds

  • Date: Monday 17th August 2020
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Like many Scottish businesses, our charities have found themselves under the huge strain of the Coronavirus pandemic, especially when relying on fundraising events and public engagement to fund their work.

Just last week, the cash-strapped National Trust for Scotland (NTS), who protect historical properties and cultural heritage, launched a campaign to encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors, in a desperate bid to raise funds for the charity.

Since March, NTS has lost £28 million in essential income due to the closure of venues and members cancelling their subscription to the charity. It is hoped that their Stride Out for Scotland appeal will help raise a minimum of £2.5 million as part of its ongoing recovery plan.

The NTS is just one of a number of charities in trouble across Scotland though. One off events, which help raise large sums of money for charitable organisations, have been hit hard due to lock down and social distancing measures.

Looking through the calendar, a whole host of fundraising events across Scotland have either been postponed or are not taking place at all. Almost overnight COVID-19 has knocked millions from charities projected fundraising across the country.

As funding drops, the demand for the support and services charities provide will sky rocket. It’s truly worrying on what will happen to some of the most vulnerable within our society, especially as the UK ‘officially’ entered into a recession last week and the end of the government’s furlough scheme edges closer.

In some good news for the third sector, Scottish charities have been able to re-open their retail operations, with much needed funds likely to be raised in this way. What’s more, it was heartening to hear that many charity shops are full as kind hearted Scots donated much needed products and essentials after lockdown clear outs.  

£20 million has also been set aside in a Third Sector Resilience Fund, but when we consider that there are more than 24,000 charities in Scotland, who handle £14bn in income annually, the sums really don’t add up.

These charities perform a myriad of roles that contribute to the economy, from developing areas of deprivation, to caring for our environment and supporting education or research. Simply put, we can’t undervalue the role they play in keeping our country afloat.

Various other community and wellbeing funds have also been made available to the sector in Scotland, however many charities have reported issues with eligibility for accessing these grants.

Animal welfare is one such sector that has found itself on the periphery of many of the funding requirements, which are weighted towards human wellbeing.

In April, the Association of Dog and Cat Homes published its Coronavirus Impact Survey, which showed this impact of lockdown on rehoming, access to vet services, operational requirements like animal collection and drop off, number of volunteers, and most importantly, funding. It revealed 55 per cent of its members had already seen a drop of 50 per cent in its fundraised income.

One animal charity that has reported struggles during the crisis is Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, who have lost upwards of £650K for 2020 alone. The charity has been successfully rehoming stray and unwanted pets across the Lothians for nearly 140 years and has recently made strides in developing their fundraising activities, but this period has brought unprecedented challenges with many income streams drying up.

Last week they announced an organisational restructure, along with the permanent closure of their pet boarding service and two charity shops in Edinburgh in an effort to refocus on mission-critical work and cut out high-risk income generating activities.

This is a great example of the resilience shown by Scottish charities, and reflects the changes that will need to be made for charitable organisations to survive in the next few months and years.  

In September I’ll be returning to defend my 2019 ‘Top Dog’ winning title at their In the Dog House event, which locks up CEOs and business influencers in kennels and gives them a day to raise as much money as they can.

This year the event has changed, with social distancing in place and the option to take part virtually. Again, implementing new and innovative measures to provide fundraising opportunities will make or break charities. Evolution is the key, otherwise many will be left in the doghouse.

Side (305 words)


Exam results day has always been a bag of mixed emotions. The excitement or dread of finding out what you scored after working hard throughout the year. It can be a cause for celebration for some, and commiseration for others. 


However, this year has been unlike any other. With school kids across Scotland unable to sit exams back in May due to the pandemic, the entire results experience has been completely eclipsed by the controversy surrounding the SQA’s marking scheme and its impact on pupils up and down the country. 


While a U-turn has since been made on that decision, I’m sure there will still be many out there who have been left wondering what’s next after receiving their results.


Whether they did better or worse than hoped, lots of youngsters are bound to be feeling confused about where to go from here, especially given all the uncertainty in the world just now. 


There’s a lot of doom and gloom out there at the moment around the future of the economy and job prospects, but I actually have a lot of hope for the younger generation. As the #NoWrongPath social media campaign has demonstrated, there are many routes to getting your dream job that don’t just follow the traditional university route. 


Established in 2017, the award-winning campaign seeks to inspire and reassure young people that even in the most difficult times there are still opportunities for them to progress and that there is no wrong path to success.​​


If this year has taught us anything, it’s that things don’t always go to plan, and the importance of adapting in the face of adversity. Exams and schoolwork aside, I’m sure the younger generation will have learnt a huge amount over these last few months, and that will stand them in good stead for years to come.   


Laugh (129 words)


Chef Gordon Ramsay has been hitting the headlines this week for his hilarious TikTok videos where he reacts to amateur cooks’ creations with his trademark putdowns. 


So far, he’s responded to videos of people making 'British fish and chips' in the microwave, mac and cheese pizza, and ‘Wagyu steak in a bag’. 


The series of #RamsayReacts videos has gone viral, and not even his own family is safe, as he shared a video of his daughter Holly’s attempt at cooking one of his recipes for potato gnocchi – slamming her technique throughout.


Lots of us have really got into cooking in lockdown, but let this be a warning to anyone thinking of sharing their at-home creations online - think again or you could end up facing the wrath of Ramsay. 


Weep (128 words)


Many parts of Scotland were battered with torrential rainstorms last week, causing damage across the country. 


Staff and visitors at The Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy were given a nasty surprise when they discovered their cars, which had been parked overnight, were floating in the car park after being carried away by gallons of water. 


A house in Falkirk also reportedly went on fire after being struck by lightning.   


Of course, the most severe impact was felt by all of those affected by the rail crash in Stonehaven, which saw three people tragically lose their lives after a landslip on the track. Many others were injured, including four firefighters as they were responding at the scene. 


My thoughts are with everyone who was impacted by this heartbreaking incident.




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