Scotland's voluntary sector manifesto for 2020

From Civil society Scotland Wiki

About the SCVO Policy Forum[edit | edit source]

The Policy Forum is an SCVO initiative to strengthen the voice of the voluntary sector in Scotland. Members of the Forum are supported by SCVO to take a lead role on behalf of SCVO and the wider voluntary sector to think about the future of the social, political, environmental and economic context within which the sector operates.

The Forum follows a process similar to a parliamentary committee; hearing from key stakeholders, gathering evidence and intelligence, analysing it, and producing reports on an agreed future focused topic and making recommendations to SCVO.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

This Manifesto for the Future, produced by the SCVO Policy Forum, outlines a number of future-focused recommendations which aim to address some of the most profound social, economic, political and environmental changes in living memory. Scotland’s voluntary sector is already carrying out important work which is beginning to influence the country’s future direction. This work requires support and expansion if Scotland intends to be seen as a leader in protecting human rights, the environment and our democracy. This is a 2030 blueprint for Scotland’s future.

The challenges of the next decade are significant, and they are real.

  • By 2030, Scotland’s population will be larger and older.[1]
  • The ongoing advancement of technology will radically change the jobs market and the world of work.
  • The free movement of people, goods and money between Scotland and its neighbours will be fundamentally changed by Brexit.
  • Slow growth and possible recession has been predicted in some quarters.[2]
  • The success of populist and divisive politicians has profound implications for all countries.
  • A radical global response to the climate emergency and nature crisis must be agreed and enacted to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and reverse the loss of biodiversity.

Scotland’s voluntary sector is wide reaching and covers every area of society. Organisations are working tirelessly throughout the country to ensure that human rights are protected, that the environment is considered in policy decision-making and that the rights of citizens living within our democracy are upheld. The voluntary sector will remain a constant presence amongst ongoing political uncertainty, therefore there needs to be agreement and consensus within the voluntary sector and beyond that urgent action is required to ensure Scotland’s place as an innovator is retained now and in the future.

As the planet suffers from a changing environment, environment focussed voluntary sector organisations have helped to mobilise communities to push for change at all levels of Scottish society. In areas related to human rights, the voluntary sector is a strong advocate for the creation of rights-based policies and decision-making. Within health and social care support, the voluntary sector often steps in to deliver important services that can help relieve the capacity burden and deliver tailored specialist approaches within the health service. These are just three areas out of hundreds in which the voluntary sector plays a role in demanding action in order to improve the lives of people living in Scotland and around the world.

Led by our politicians in collaboration with the public and private sector, academia and civil society, Scotland must be ready to respond to these challenges. With the right drive and vision, and by delivering on Scotland’s commitment to meet the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it is possible to make our response an historic opportunity to build a fairer, greener and more prosperous country.

A thriving, sustainable voluntary sector is critical to the realisation of these goals.

There are over 40,000 voluntary organisations in Scotland, with almost half categorised as registered charities.[3] The sector employs over 100,000 people – making it one of the country’s biggest employment sectors – and has a turnover of almost £6 billion.[3] Each year, around 1.4 million volunteers donate their time to help these organisations to support communities and people in need.[3]

This manifesto is a rallying cry from Scotland’s voluntary sector to collaborate to achieve the visionary transformation these challenging times call for. The SCVO Policy Forum has identified three areas of significant importance which require action:

  • Planet: We want Scotland to secure environmental action and take responsibility for the planet and its future generations.
  • Humanity: We want Scotland to lead the world in supporting human rights, equality and wellbeing for all.
  • Citizenship: We want Scotland to foster a society which enhances citizenship, democracy and participation.

This manifesto outlines the foundations required to ensure that Scotland stands ready to share its knowledge and expertise to face the challenges of the next decade and help to build a fair and prosperous future for everyone.

Beyond the Manifesto[edit | edit source]

This Manifesto acknowledges the imminent environmental, political and social challenges currently faced by Scotland. However, we wish to see the recommendations of this Manifesto built upon throughout this decade and beyond. Scotland must not rest on its laurels and continue to seek cross-section collaboration in devising solutions to potential threats to this country’s ecosystem and democracy which are on the horizon.

Scotland’s voluntary sector is wide, varied and diverse. The expertise within organisations is extensive and has given birth to innovative concepts which improve the lives of people living in Scotland every day. This Manifesto is not a document which upon publication remains stagnant. It is a living, breathing document which we hope will inspire Scotland’s voluntary sector to highlight the important and at times life-saving work it is carrying out throughout the country. Work that, if replicated on a wider scale, has the potential to transform Scotland for the better.

We want Scotland’s voluntary sector to herald its work which aligns with the core themes contained within this Manifesto, work that is already underway that aims to improve human rights, protect the environment and empower people in Scotland to become active citizens.

The Manifesto for the Future’s Best Practice Bank highlights voluntary sector activity which is making a significant difference in Scotland and has the potential to be replicated on a wider basis. SCVO is keen to champion these ideas throughout the next year and beyond, and are calling upon voluntary sector organisations in Scotland to submit their activity to the Best Practice Bank to be used as evidence to support the sector’s engagement with parliamentarians and policymakers throughout the decade. Highlighting our sector’s activity which relates to the core beliefs of the Manifesto is crucial to facilitating change within society, and illustrates how the Manifesto’s recommendations can be implemented in practice and the subsequent impact they have on Scotland’s environment and people.

  1. Scotland’s population is projected to increase and age (2017) Scottish Government. Available:
  2. State of the economy: September 2019 (2019) Scottish Government. Available:
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 State of the Sector 2018 (2018) Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. Available:
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