Aberlour Annual Review 2019 – 2020

2019-20 our story…
A word from our outgoing Chair Valerie Surgenor

It’s been a privilege to be Chair of Aberlour since 2014, having joined the Board in 2009.
I’m sad to be stepping down. But I’m heartened too. I’m leaving behind a resilient and influential charity – one that remains strong and sustainable, despite operating in challenging circumstances.

We consistently provide high-quality support, working with many of the most disadvantaged children and families in Scotland.

We adapt our services to meet the needs of children who face obstacles which can seem overwhelming.

We listen to what children and families have to say about the support they need.

We make sure decision makers get to hear what children and families think.

Our Aberlour – our strategy for 2018-21 – is all about supporting children and families earlier. And just as the year ended, we were faced with one of our biggest ever challenges – how to support children and families in desperate need during a global pandemic.
We knew the call on our Urgent Assistance Fund would be huge. We immediately put £100k of our own money into the fund and launched our Coronavirus Urgent Assistance Appeal.
We weren’t disappointed – in just two weeks we raised another £112,500. But we weren’t wrong either – weekly applications to the fund rose by 914%.

Growth & innovation

Some highlights from across the country

In Aberdeen…

We became the preferred provider for a development which will enable us substantially to increase our services to families with disabled children.
This will include a significant investment to enhance and refurbish our premises in the Kaimhill district of the city.

In Fife…

We created a bespoke service for one young person so he could remain in his community and close to his family.

In Dumfries and Galloway…

We set up a new community hub supported by Investing in Communities funding – and a new service supporting families of prisoners in Dumfries and Galloway prison with investment from the Scottish Government Challenge Fund.

In the Scottish Borders…

Our Sustain service has made its mark. An independent evaluation conducted by Social Value Lab found that by working closely and early with families the service had prevented four out of five children and young people being taken into care.

In Aberdeen and Fife…

We are the lead partner for LoveInC, a three-year programme, funded by the Life Changes Trust.
The other partners are Includem, Care Inspectorate and CELCIS and – most importantly – children and young people in care. Working collaboratively with them, the programme aims to develop ways to put love at the heart of their experiences of care.

Throughout Scotland…

Our fostering provision is registered as a national service and managed by a single assistant director. We have ambitious investment plans – to grow and develop the service.

Business Development

Ups and downs


  • Our business development team has had an outstanding year with a success rate of more than 80% on tenders and strategic funding applications.


  • Success is a team effort, and ours comes from cooperation between the business development team and our operational and corporate teams.


  • We expanded our support for asylum seeking children across Scotland with the support of £1.2million from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.


  • We accelerated our service redesign and digital work, with the support of £500,000 from the National Lottery Communities Fund.


  • We continued to build our community-based services and hubs with Aspiring Communities and Investing in Communities funding of £300,000 from the Scottish Government.


  • We developed our Sustain services, securing £150,000 for a Sustain North Ayrshire service.


  • We continued to support the development of key capital projects. These included a new disability residential service in the Scottish Borders and two new mainstream residential services in Tayside.

But we’ve had our setbacks too…


  • Because we secure work from public sector bodies, we continue to be affected by spending squeezes.


  • We had to renegotiate and down-size a residential care contract in Highland, which led to the closure of our children’s house in Tain.


  • We were forced to close our successful Highland Sustain service after commissioners withdrew funding.


  • We had to reduce services in Dumfries & Galloway after a budget decision by the Council to reposition its care priorities.

Making children and families voices heard…

Our No Bad Ends campaign shines a light on the stark impact of poverty and deprivation on Scotland’s children.

The campaign draws on research commissioned by Aberlour and conducted by Professor Morag Treanor at Heriot Watt University. Professor Treanor’s findings show that young people in our most deprived communities are at least three times more likely to die before they are 25.

We continued to lobby the Scottish Government to do more – to increase household incomes for low income families and put money directly in families’ pockets.

In 2019, along with more than 70 children’s charities, anti-poverty organisations, campaigners, academics, and others – we successfully lobbied the First Minister to use the Scottish Government’s new welfare powers to introduce the Scottish Child Payment.

The No Place Like Home campaign, launched in 2018, is a partnership between Aberlour and parents with learning disabilities that we work with.

It is supported by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) and Parenting Across Scotland (PAS). Research tells us that at least 40% of mums, dads, and carers with a learning disability have children who are taken into care.

In October 2019, we hosted an event to launch a campaign film at the Scottish Parliament alongside South Ayrshire parents with learning disabilities. The audience included the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, and MSPs.

Parents who have had their children removed spoke about their experiences, including…

  • the impact of the child protection system on them and their children
  • the challenges of being parents with additional learning needs and…
  • the help and support that they received from Aberlour to make sure their children could live at home and their families could stay together.

In 2019, around 50 Aberlour young people from across Scotland came together for a fun – if soggy – weekend in rural Perthshire at the 4th annual Aberlour Jamboree, AbJam. For many young people, it was their first chance to spend time away from home.

They enjoyed outdoor activities, topical workshops, social events and listened to special guest speakers, including Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Children & Young People.

Abjam was designed by the young people themselves. All the activities, speakers and workshops focused on “Young People’s Rights’.

Joining forces to make a bigger difference…

At Aberlour, we know we can’t do everything on our own. By working with other organisations who have specialist expertise and knowledge we can do even more for children and families.

We continued to work with the Scottish Refugee Council to develop and deliver our Scottish Guardianship service. Our guardians support child refugees and victims of trafficking who arrive in Scotland alone. We provide information and advice, and advocate on their behalf. The partnership has enabled us to develop and expand our services.

“Our joint Scottish Guardianship Service has supported hundreds of trafficked and asylum-seeking children to build new lives in Scotland.

The trust, honesty and transparency in how we now work with each other has led to strong relationships beyond the staff teams directly involved in delivering our innovative service. Practically, it has led to both organisations leveraging significant additional funding; the Scottish Guardianship Service gaining international recognition and policy and practice change in how separated children are treated by statutory agencies. But most importantly, our partnership has supported young people to flourish themselves”.

– Gary Christie, Head of Policy, Communications & Communities,Scottish Refugee Council.

We continued to work with Glen Housing Association in Fife – together with families – to design a new short-breaks service for disabled children and young people. We will create homes so that young people with disabilities can live in their own communities close to their families. Building work commenced in March 2020 and completion is expected in 2021.

“We are looking forward to working with the incredible team at Aberlour to help these young people remain closer to their families”

– Anne Dickie, Director, Glen Housing Association.

We developed a new partnership with Scottish Borders Housing Association and the Scottish Borders Council to provide a bespoke, eight bedded home for disabled children who can no longer live in their families. The home will mean they can stay in the Scottish Borders, living as independently as possible near their family and friends.

We developed a new partnership with Scottish Borders Housing Association and the Scottish Borders Council to provide a bespoke, eight bedded home for disabled children who can no longer live in their families. The home will mean they can stay in the Scottish Borders, living as independently as possible near their family and friends.

We are delighted to be a partner in a vital and innovative new service for children and young people with disabilities in the Scottish Borders.

Establishing year-round local homes will transform the quality of life for children and their families. This project has required commitment, enthusiasm and innovation to develop a great solution and a compelling case for change”.

– Julia Mulloy, Chief Executive Scottish Borders Housing Authority.

Our long-standing partnership with Shelter Scotland to support women in Glasgow who are victims of domestic abuse goes from strength to strength. We also collaborated on a new initiative, Our Journey Home, which prevents children and families becoming and remaining homeless.

“Shelter Scotland places huge importance on collaborative working and we have continued to enjoy a particularly productive and positive partnership with Aberlour, with a shared focus on preventing the harm of homelessness for families across Scotland”.

– Alison Watson, Director, Shelter Scotland.

With the support of Dumfries and Galloway Council, our new community hub boasted: the first community fridge freezer in the area – funded by the Dumfries and Galloway hardship fund; a community laundry – funded by Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership; and a popular clothing bank.

But our work won’t stop there.

We’ve secured funds from the Investing in Communities Fund which will provide a Community Connector and a caretaker so that as many families as possible can access this vital resource.

And finally, a word from our Chief Executive SallyAnn Kelly

Aberlour doesn’t stand still. Now more than ever, we can’t afford to because poverty is on the rise.

That’s why we set ourselves some ambitious plans focused on reaching even more children and families in need this year.

More than ever, we listen to families and deliver what they tell us they need most. We do this right across the country, in the community, with individual families as well as in foster homes and our children’s houses.

Child poverty isn’t something any single agency can tackle alone. That’s why we’ve worked with others – children’s organisations and poverty campaigners – to shine a light on its impact. And what needs to be done.

We’ve also partnered with others to champion the interests of parents with additional learning needs. In both cases our overriding purpose has been to get early help to support families to thrive – and transform the lives of children and parents in Scotland.

It’s a huge privilege to lead Aberlour, navigating the organisation through troubled economic and political waters.

Our organisational values of integrity, respect, challenge, and innovation have remained at the heart of all that we do.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us this year. Your generosity has enabled us to reach those children and families in Scotland most in need.

Thanks to all our supporters.

Scottish Charity no: SC007991 | Company reg no: SC312912
Aberlour Child Care Trust, Kintail House, Forthside Way, Stirling FK8 1QZ