Saturday, 5 September 2009

Being charitable is part of East Renfrewshire's DNA

I am not sure anyone actually coordinates statistics on donations to charity but my guess is East Renfrewshire will top Scotland's donations per head of population if these stats exist.

On Tuesday morning Jackson Carlaw and I met up with sisters Corin Ling and Lesley Love who are running the New York Marathon later this year to raise money for local charity East Renfrewshire Good Causes. I would, of course, encourage everyone to sponsor Corin and Lesley (you can do so at not just because the girls are from East Renfrewshire and prepared to go through severe pain for charity but because the story of East Renfrewshire Good Causes is such an impressive and heartwarming one.

From left to right - Richard Cook, Lesley Love, Corin Ling and Jackson Carlaw MSP at Rouken Glen Park. Next Stop Central Park!

In fact, I am not sure too many local people are actually aware we have our own, very local, charity prepared to help those in need when they need it most.

Local man, Russell Macmillan set up the East Renfrewshire Good Causes charity as his way of "repaying his debt to society". Russell underwent a pancreas and kidney transplant after fighting Type 1 Diabetes for more than 30 years and decided to set up a charity to deliver real benefits to the people of East Renfrewshire because he wanted to put something back into a community he believes supported him when he needed it most.

Despite being registered blind, with just 5 per cent tunnel vision in one eye, Russell runs East Renfrewshire Good Causes from his home in Newton Mearns, taking not one penny of the money raised for himself to ensure 100% of the money you donate goes to local "good causes". Russell and the charity Trustees are constantly on the lookout for worthy causes to support across the length and breadth of East Renfrewshire and have already distributed thousands of pounds to those most in need of help. In many ways Russell has already repaid any "debt to society" hundreds of times over and everyone in East Renfrewshire should be very grateful to him for his dedication to our local area.

Of course East Renfrewshire's connection with charitable giving does not stop with East Renfrewshire Good Causes or indeed in the form of numerous Direct Debits paid to charities by people across East Renfrewshire every month. Thousands of local people give of their time every year to raise money through participation in sponsored events or through organising fundraising activities for any one of our numerous churches, synagogues, schools or voluntary organisations.

And we should of course pay tribute to local people who volunteer to staff the raft of charity shops on local high streets - even if many of us would like to see fewer charity shops in favour of a wide variety of local shops that are able to compete with the giant supermarket chains.

Earlier today I was privileged to be on the pitch at Hampden helping a team of volunteers who manage the process of laying out and removing the massive centre circle banner, which is used as the backdrop for teams arriving onto the pitch and the singing of national anthems.

For me standing on the Hampden pitch in front of 50,000 members of the Tartan army belting out the Proclaimers 500 miles was a once in a lifetime experience and payment enough for performing a pretty straight forward task. I also had a massive sense of relief when I didn’t trip and fall coming off the pitch bring a conga line of volunteers carrying a water laden banner down with me.

That is why I am donating my fee to local charities.

On the pitch at Hampden before Scotland beat Macedonia 2-0 to keep our hope of qualifying for the World Cup in South Africa alive!

I have donated part of my fee by sponsoring Corin and Lesley's participation in this years New York Marathon ( and have used the rest to sponsor Hamira Khan who is taking part in The Great Scottish Run, pounding the streets of Glasgow, tomorrow.

Hamira is Chair of the Scottish Conservative Community Cohesion Task Force and is running tomorrow in aid of Roshni. Roshni are a children’s charity based in Glasgow city centre with a team committed to the long-term development of child protection in the ethnic communities. Like East Renfrewshire Good Causes, I suspect Roshni is a local charity relatively few people will have heard of let alone understand the vital work they do. When you research the work they carry out in our communities and in lobbying parliament for better child protection the need to support Roshni becomes very apparent. (

Being actively involved in the everyday life of East Renfrewshire it becomes ever more apparent to me just how fortunate I am to be standing for Parliament in a constituency where giving is an integral part of local communities. Your time, your effort, your money - all are greatly valued by those who need help and all are given freely by local people every day.

Being charitable is part of East Renfrewshire's DNA, and that is just one more thing that makes this area so special!