Almost one in five children in Scotland lives in poverty. This can mean going without essentials, or living in a home that is cold or damp. And it can make it harder for children to do well at school. We’re fighting to ensure that every child in Scotland gets a fair start in life.

A family in Scotland

Victoria, Alexander and their parents took part in our Families and Schools Together programme. Their dad, Scott, says, "It’s probably brought us a lot closer. It makes you see how your kids are actually developing when they’re at school.”

More than half of children growing up in poverty in Scotland live in working households, but low wages and rising prices mean work no longer offers families a guaranteed way out of poverty.

By the time they start school, children experiencing poverty are often already falling behind their better-off peers. As they get older, this education gap widens and can leave them at an unfair disadvantage. It is a huge challenge for children, teachers and parents.

Through our programmes in Scotland, we aim to give children living in poverty the support they need to fulfil their potential.

Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play!

Launched in 2012, our Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play! (ESLP) programme provides essential household items to families with young children living on a low income.

By providing something vital, such as a cooker, a washing machine or a child’s bed, we can support families to meet their child’s most basic needs – a hot meal, clean clothes and a good night’s sleep.

To ensure we reach those families most at risk, we work with local referral partners such as health visitors, family support workers, housing officers and early years outreach workers who know where the need is greatest.

Since the programme began, we have awarded grants to more than 3,000 families in Scotland.

Families and Schools Together

We introduced Families and Schools Together (FAST) to schools in Scotland in 2010. It is an award winning, early-intervention programme that brings parents, children, schools and the wider community together to support children’s learning.

Through weekly sessions, FAST helps parents create opportunities for learning and development at home, and ensures children get the support they need to fulfil their potential at school – and in life.

FAST trainer Steffi Keir explains the difference the programme can make:

“It breaks down barriers and allows people to become a community again. FAST really enables parents to work in partnership with teachers, and the children love to share “their” space, the school, with their parents. It makes them proud of their school, and their parents too, and that is worth so much.”

So far, we’ve run FAST with more than 350 children from schools across West Dunbartonshire, East Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Fife.

Our policy and campaign work

Our policy work focuses on the action that Scottish Government and local authorities need to take to keep their promises to end child poverty in Scotland.

We campaign for action to break the link between poverty and education in Scotland and for more affordable childcare for families living in poverty. We want the Scottish Government to make childcare more accessible so parents can return to work and end the cycle of poverty.

We also carry out research to help us better understand how poverty affects children and their families.

In 2015 we launched our Read On. Get On. campaign to ensure all children get the best start in life. We're aiming to get all children in Scotland reading well by the time they leave primary school, by 2025.


Find out more

For more information about our work in Scotland, please contact or call us on 0131 527 8200.

Support our work by donating today.

Last updated: March 2016.