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News & Blog

Speaking Under the Stars

Posted: 31st May 2018

It’s not often I enter a banking hall and find myself stopping to admire the ceiling, but last Wednesday was an exception to the rule. I was in the RBS building at 36 St Andrews Square for the launch of our 50th anniversary campaign: Nobody Chooses This – looking to raise £500,000 for our 50th year (or as we like to say, ‘half a million for half a century’).

The RBS building is extraordinary. It began life as someone’s house (I still struggle to get my head round that idea!) – a wealthy 18th century Edinburgh merchant and politician; Sir Lawrence Dundas. Amongst his many (and at times dubious) exploits was backing the building of the Forth/Clyde Canal, persuading the company to create the eastern terminus on his land at Grangemouth! He was nothing if not upfront about what he wanted to do to make his money

The banking hall has an incredibly beautiful domed roof with 120 stars – which appear on all RBS banknotes. The bank bought the house in 1835 as its headquarters, which it technically remains today

We were there not simply to admire the beauty of the building but to reach out to local businesses, in particular through our partners Essential Edinburgh, to support our campaign. The support we’ve already been given by Essential Edinburgh has meant our Outreach Team has helped change the lives of some of our capital city’s most excluded citizens – those for whom a city centre townhouse is never likely to be within their ownership.

We were given a huge boost by our long-time corporate partners Standard Life Aberdeen who kicked off the campaign with an amazing donation of £50,000 – big thanks indeed to them
We know £10,000 will provide another day every week the Outreach team can be out. We know £12,000 would provide monthly support sessions for 20 families in conflict for a year. We know £20,000 would provide an employment academy for 10 people. We know £50,000 would go a long way to pay for our recovery hub where around 500 people received peer led support every year. We know the cost of all of what we do and that the value is way more than financial – it is deeply and deliberately human.

It’s hard at times to speak of money – especially big numbers – but we have to. There is much to be done. We may hope we are not needed in 50 years’ time – but between now and then there is much to be done and the more money we can attract the more journeys we can take with people in tough realities to places of hope and transformation.

The story goes that Lawrence Dundas lost his house on a game of cards but kept it by agreeing instead to build another one for the victor nearby. Few have such resources when life happens to them. When their home is in danger of being lost not because of their actions but because life happens to them in ways they struggle to cope with. Our ambition is simple: to be there for more people when ‘life happens’, so they can find what they need in themselves to flourish again. And that takes money – so we need to not fear asking for it where ever we might be – hallowed halls or street corners – it’s the only way our ambition of no longer being necessary will be achieved.


Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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