SCPO News – January 2018


PB gets underway in 2018
Rory McLeod joined the staff team as PB Development Worker at the beginning of January until the end of April. The PB project is now up and running with between 7 and 10 churches expected to participate by holding PB events in March and April 2018. The project will provide two training days for churches, and the first will take place in February.

Meet Your MSP
The SCPO team is asking all those who have taken part in the Meet Your MSP project in the last year to get in touch with any feedback you may have.

Over 90 meetings have taken place so far across Scotland as part of the Meet Your MSP project.

They have included visits to foodbanks, care homes, chats in the church, afternoon teas, coffee mornings, and focused meetings, such as a church Eco-group discussing the Scottish Climate Change plan with their local MSPs. The Meet Your MSP project is ongoing – please click here for ideas, resources, and find out which churches have taken part across Scotland. 

Give Me Five – The Child Benefit Top Up campaign
SCPO supports Give Me Five and the campaign has been lobbying MSPs to commit to a £5 top up for Child Benefit in the 2018/19 Scottish Budget. To read the briefing please click here and share.

The Give Me Five campaign calls on MSPs to ensure that Scottish Government spending plans include a top-up to Child Benefit of £5 per week. Increasing Child Benefit by just £5 a week for every child could lift 30,000 children out of poverty. Poverty is fundamentally about a lack of income, and this move, which is within the Scottish Government’s powers, would significantly improve family incomes.

For more information on how to get involved in the campaign by informing others about what it is trying to achieve, writing to MSPs and signing a petition, please click here




Finlay Buchanan on his experience of Participatory Budgeting (PB) at Carrick Knowe Parish Church in EdinburghApplying to get funding for a community project can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time.

Even if you can track down potential sources of grants, the final decision sometimes seems to be made by a faceless committee.

Participatory Budgeting puts the decision-making firmly in the hands of the people most affected – the local community. Carrick Knowe Parish Church in Edinburgh were one of four congregations to take part in the Participatory Budgeting pilot run by the Church of Scotland in Spring 2017, and we were allocated £5000 to give away to local groups in amounts of up to £1000.

We were keen to take part for a number of reasons, but the biggest attraction was the opportunity to strengthen links in our neighbourhood and show our commitment to being “the friendly church at the heart of the community.” With tight timescales, there were challenges in raising awareness, encouraging applications, and organising the voting event. This meant that we focused on existing groups working within the community, and didn’t have time to encourage new groups with fresh ideas to get together and submit a bid.

However, we had support available through the Church and Society Council staff team, and the four pilot churches were able to work together to develop material and share ideas. This saved a huge amount of effort and made the exercise achievable in an incredibly short time.

At Carrick Knowe we ended up with nine applications for amounts ranging from £750-£1000.

Each group made a short, lively presentation to members of the community at an open event. Voting was open to anyone from primary six upwards, and everyone had five votes to allocate to different projects – a voting system chosen to ensure people looked beyond any organisations they may have come along to support.

One of the attractions of the PB approach is that votes are cast and counted immediately. Within 30 minutes we had announced the results and six groups were awarded sums between £450 and £1000. Local Authorities are being encouraged by the Scottish Government to increase the use of PB, and many congregations are in an ideal position to serve their communities by hosting or taking part in PB events – it’s well worth considering!

Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill
A Bill to pardon persons convicted of certain historical sexual offences and to provide a process for convictions for those offences to be disregarded. The Bill is at stage 1.

Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Repeal) (Scotland) Bill
A Bill to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. Stage 1 of the bill was completed on 25 January 2018.

Planning Bill
A Bill to make provision about how land is developed and used. The Bill is currently at stage 1 which will be completed by 1 June 2018.

Social Security (Scotland) Bill
A Bill to make provision for social security. The Bill is at stage 2 which is due to be completed by 9 March 2018.

Public consultations are published by the Scottish Parliament and by the Scottish Government and include the following:

The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) has responded to UK Government proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures. The response can be viewed here.

The Church of Scotland has also responded to the consultation, ‘Empowering Schools: A consultation on the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill’. To view click here



The Church of Scotland sent a briefing to MSPs in advance of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Repeal) (Scotland) Bill. This can be viewed here


Scottish Parliament
All petitions in the Scottish Parliament can be viewed here

UK Parliament
All petitions in the UK Parliament can be viewed here

Caring for God’s Creation – free seminar for congregations
Saturday 3 March
1-4pm at Springburn Parish Church, Glasgow

The seminar is organised by Glasgow Presbytery World Mission Committee and Eco Congregation Scotland. Register for free by email at  or telephone 0141 332 6606.

Workshops include:

  • Greening your Church Buildings (James Anthony, Eco-Congregations)
  • Going for an Eco-Award (David Bethune, Eco-Congregations)
  • Engaging your Politicians on Environmental Matters (Irene MacKinnon, SCPO)
  • Fossil Fuels and Finance (Adrian Shaw, Climate Change Officer at the Church of Scotland)

Tackling Social Isolation and Loneliness
Engagement events have been organised by the Scottish Government on Tackling Social Isolation and Loneliness and Building Social Connections. The events will feed into the Scottish Government consultation to create a Loneliness Strategy.

  • Dundee Community Engagement Event
  • 1 February from 1pm-3.30pm
  • For more information click here
  • Aviemore Community Engagement Event
  • 5 February from 11am-1pm
  • For more information click here
  • Dumfries Community Engagement Event
  • 12 February from 12.30pm-3pm
  • For more information click here
  • Oban Community Engagement Event
  • 19 February from 12pm-2pm
  • For more information click here
  • Inverness Community Engagement Event
  • 26 February from 1pm-3pm
  • For more information click here
  • Orkney Community Engagement Event
    27 February from 10am-12.30pm
    For more information click here

The Gathering
Celebrate the work of Christian Aid Scotland and partners, and learn how they are transforming lives by standing up to climate change, overcoming inequality and tackling injustice.

The Gathering will take place in the following places:

  • Dumfries, St John the Evangelist – Friday 23rd February 2018 – 2pm-5pm
  • Dunblane, Cathedral Halls – Saturday 24th February 2018 – 10am-1pm
  • Edinburgh Augustine United Church – 28th February 2018 – 10.45am-3pm
  • Aberdeen Holburn West Church – Thursday 1st March 2018 – 10am-1pm

RSVP to or on 0141 221 7475.

Scotland United in Prayer for Parliament
Gordon Lindhurst MSP will host this important initiative to gather Christians to pray at the Scottish Parliament. The next event is on Tuesday 20 March at 6pm-7.30pm, in Committee Room 1.

The aim of Scotland United in Prayer for Parliament (SUPP) is to pray for the MSPs, staff and relevant current issues in the heart of the Parliament. It is spearheaded by a group of City Church leaders, with contributions from key public affairs groups. RSVP by 15 March to Anne Comrie at


We would like to invite denominations to contribute articles for future monthly newsletters. Please contact SCPO if this is something that you would be interested in doing. It could relate to an issue that is politically current, or tie in with events highlighting a specific cause.We would also like to encourage groups to share the information enclosed in their newsletters and online – and please let us know if you do!
Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook hereKeep up to date with news and briefings on our website here and to subscribe / unsubscribe to the SCPO monthly newsletter. If you would like to receive a postal copy, please call us on 0131 240 2276.