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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.


#EssentialSector film contributors

Meet our #EssentialSector film contributors

We know it's impossible to show the full breadth and depth of the sector through the stories of 10 organisations, but we did our best to choose as wide a range as possible. The organisations who contributed to the #EssentialSector films are are unique and brilliant in their own way.

On this page, you'll find information about the 10 organisations that have shared their work through short films. The films were debuted at the #EssentialSector film premiere at the EICC in Edinburgh as part of the Gathering on 7 November 2023.

Afro-Scot Relief Project

Afro-Scot Relief Project is a charity committed to promoting the health and wellbeing of Africans living in Scotland, and promoting African heritage, art and culture.

The charity started during lockdown in challenging circumstances including the sad death of one of their committee members. Realising that many people in the African community in Scotland were experiencing isolation and anxiety without a community to share their worries with, Afro-Scot's aim is to create a sense of community in the spirit of ubuntu - a philosophy of generosity, reciprocity and community.

Like many voluntary sector organisations, funding is one of the most challenging aspects of running their organisation which supports people from disadvantaged and minority ethnic backgrounds but the Afro-Scot is glad to be supporting the African community in Glasgow and in Scotland more widely and looks forward to continuing to embed their work in the community.

Watch Afro-Scot Relief Project's #EssentialSector film here:


Dates-n-Mates is Scotland’s national dating and friendship charity run by and for adults with a learning disability. Dates-n-Mates has fifteen years' experience of connecting people in Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Aberdeen, Falkirk and Stirling & Clackmannanshire

Their work is underpinned by a human rights-based approach and on the belief that it is people’s right to live life free from discrimination and to develop friendships and relationships of their choosing, to love and be loved.

Influenced by members' preferences, Dates-n-Mates organises a wide selection of social events where there are opportunities for people to make new friendships to creat connections. They support friendship matching, date chaperoning and training workshops. Their workshops aim to help improvde members' knowledge, confidence and wellbeing.

Each Dates-n-Mates branch is led by a small dedicated team. Each team includes directors who have a lived experience of learning disability. Members and directors influence the direction of the organisation and the range of opportunities on offer. Teams are enhanced and supported by the generosity of a small group of volunteers who freely give their time, passion and expertise.

Watch Dates-N-Mates' #EssentialSector film here:

Fife Steel Basketball

Fife Steel Basketball is a community-based basketball club for players aged 7 to 75 years.

It is one of only two basketball clubs in Fife, covering the Kirkcaldy and Central Fife area, supporting members from Burntisland, St Andrews, Cupar, Leven and Glenrothes.

Starting in 2015 with only an Under 14 Men's team, they have since grown to become a well-established club for young people and adults who compete in local and national leagues. In 2022, the Club started to offer walking basketball to older players or people not able to compete competitively due to illness or fitness levels.

Fife Steel is an ambitious basketball club with an enthusiastic and committed membership. They aim to maintain a strong co-operative relationship with the local community and to be able to give back to the local community. The Club's name captures its core values: Sportsmanship; Teamwork; Enjoyment; Enthusiasm; and Leadership.

With a strong focus on respect and value for diversity they want to encourage a broad-based participative membership, so that existing (and former) Club players, coaches, officials, family and friends are able to contribute to the Club’s successes.

Watch Fife Steel Basketball's #EssentialSector film here:

Helensburgh Community Hub

Helensburgh Community Hub is a community-owned building providing a welcome place and a range of opportunities for people to get together.

The Hub first opened its doors around two years ago and now offers a jam-packed programme for the local community. Run mostly by volunteers, the Hub works with others to run their groups and services including toddler groups, crafting and addiction support. They provide a base for community organisations delivering vital services: Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis, Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank, Argyll and Bute Citizens’ Advice and Key Housing. The Hub's own activities include a Menopause Café, coffee mornings and family events.

The Hub continues to grow and attract new people, offering a space where people feel a sense of belonging and community.

Watch Helensburgh Community Hub's #EssentialSector film here:

JustRight Scotland

JustRight Scotland is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) providing legal services to defend and extend people’s rights.

JustRight Scotland is a charity founded by human rights lawyers. They use the law to defend and extend people’s rights by providing direct legal advice to people who would otherwise struggle to access justice. They work in collaboration with others to achieve social justice, with the aim of reducing
discrimination and disadvantage. With their partners they have established four centres of legal excellence and a legal policy, research and training hub.

All of JustRight Scotland's legal centres have been recognised as making a significant contribution to defending people’s rights across Scotland.

The charity has seen huge growth during their first five years, and has moved swiftly to meet people's needs and to seize opportunities. Over the coming years, they plan to continue to make sure they are resilient and sufficiently agile to be able to thrive. Alongside their core legal work with the people we serve, they will continue to develop their capability to influence policy, to communicate effectively, and to support others to learn and build on the approaches they have pioneered.

Watch JustRight Scotland's #EssentialSector film here:

Newcastleton Community Trust

Newcastleton is a small remote rural community of just over 750 people, often cut off from neighbours due to power cuts, road closures or weather events.

Newcastleton & District Community Trust (NDCT) was formed in 2015. It is a membership organisation open to all aged 16+ and priorities are set by local people for the benefit of the whole community and all projects are based on sustainable outcomes.

Their aim is to regenerate the community, help people in challenging socio-economic circumstances, provide leadership to future-proof the community, and to improve educational and recreational opportunities for the community.

Since its inception, NDCT has acquired assets on behalf of the community including Buccleuch House - a 14-bed bunkhouse and event hub, and Holm Hill where the creation of new pathways and cycle routes will prove to be a valuable asset for the health and wellbeing of the local community and will encourage more visitors into the area to support local businesses.

Watch Newcastleton Community Trust's #EssentialSector film here:

Pride Outside CIC

Ellis and Lou Beardsmore are founders of the award-winning social enterprise Pride Outside CIC, which provides specialist LGBTQ+ workplace training and consultancy to fund free and accessible LGBTQ+ wellbeing events.

They are civil partners as well as business partners, with over 40 years of training experience between them. Their work is mainly with organisations in Scotland, but they also work internationally and love working with ambitious organisations who are as passionate about LGBTQ+ inclusion as them.

Pride Outside provides specialist LGBTQ+ workplace training and consultancy to public, private and voluntary sector organisations.

They are on a mission to create a world where LGBTQ+ people are safe and well. Their learning programmes increase LGBTQ+ awareness and their wellbeing programmes improve LGBTQ+ mental health.

Despite positive progress with LGBTQ+ rights, hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people has actually risen in the last two years. Pride Outside CIC was founded in order to change this story. Pride Outside CIC is passionate about supporting organisations to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive and believes that everyone deserves to feel safe and well.

Pride Outside's #EssentialSector film is coming soon!

Thriving Families

Thriving Families is a SCIO supporting families in the Highlands, working mainly with parents and carers of children with additional needs. Originally called CHIP, the charity was founded in 1993 by parent carers and quickly became a lifeline to families.

Thriving Families' goal is to become the ‘go to’ charity known for improving the lives of families living in the Highlands; by giving them confidence, empowering them to know their rights, to know what questions to ask, and have their voices heard.

The charity is funded by the Highland Council to provide an independent, rights-based, information, advice and support service for anyone involved in the care of children and young people (up to age 25). An additional support need is anything that means a child needs more, or different, support to another child the same age to make the most of their lives.

Thriving Families' experienced and knowledgeable staff listen to people's stories, help them to unpick the challenges they face and provide appropriate information, advice and support to help them take steps forward and improve the lives of their family. We offer short-term support to help you get what you need to move things forward.

They also provide information and advice to professionals so they are better able to support and signpost families to services and resources.

The charity's name "Thriving Families" reflects their aspirations for families in the Highlands. Many families who come to them for help are in survival mode; their aspiration is for those families to be thriving.

Watch Thriving Families' #EssentialSector film here:

Weekday Wow Factor

Weekday Wow Factor is a charity working with adults over 50 to create fun, freedom and friendships through exciting leisure activities.

The charity co-designs and delivers exciting leisure activities for older adults of all abilities to encourage an active lifestyle. They help people to connect with others, build new friendships, boost confidence, and help build new personal development skills.

The charity's philosophy is to co-design and create accessible, inclusive, exciting and active leisure opportunities with community members and leisure providers, ensuring they are fully accessible and inclusive.

In the five years since starting their activities, Weekday Wow Factor has helped older adults by ‘awakening the inner child’ through experiences filled with laughter, zest, curiosity and learning and has supported many older adults to build relationships that are a central part of their lives.

Watch Weekday Wow Factor's #EssentialSector film here:

Zero Tolerance

Zero Tolerance is a Scottish charity working to end men’s violence against women (VAWG) by tackling its root cause: gender inequality.

Beginning in 1992 with a groundbreaking and radical Edinburgh-based poster campaign Zero Tolerance successfully brought the issue of violence against women out from behind closed doors and into public consciousness by asserting that violence against women is never acceptable.

Their vision is for a Scotland free of men’s violence against women and girls with a core belief that men’s violence against women is preventable and should not be tolerated.

The charity's aim is to lead campaigning in Scotland to end all forms of VAWG by raising public and political awareness of its cause and challenging gender inequality. They challenge and support key institutions to embed VAWG prevention in their work and advance and share the evidence base on preventing VAWG.They also make Zero Tolerance where feminist leadership happens.

Zero Tolerance works ambitiously, believing that fundamental change is possible and by choosing the activities that can bring about the most change. They work in partnership, sharing expertise, take informed risks and focus their resources on impactful projects.

By combining resources to maximise impact and working with larger organisations to increase their influence, they amplify the voices of smaller organisations, particularly those representing minority ethnic women.

Watch Zero Tolerance's #EssentialSector film here:

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