ONE of the first charities to win the new Good Governance Award believes it is partly due to paying the real living wage.

Tayside Council on Alcohol says winning the award, designed specifically as the “quality standard for Scottish charities”, will help when they are seeking funding for new projects.

“Before we were given the award, every aspect of our business governance was examined and I think it helped that we pay the living wage as it shows we look after our staff as well as our communities,” says Fergus McCurley of TCA.

“I think paying the real living wage does have a positive impact for us because if our funders come to us we are able to say, hand on heart, that we pay the higher rate.

McCurley adds: “The Scottish Government backs that higher voluntary rate and we have received funding from them in the past so we need to set a standard for any further funding opportunities. “When people look at us they can see we are doing things in the right way and, as a charity, we have to look after our staff as well as the people we are trying to help.”

The Tayside-wide charity has 55 staff and around 85 volunteers and delivers interventions to adults and children across Tayside whose lives are adversely affected by substance misuse.

“We are supporting a lot of people in this area who come from deprived areas and for us to support people but not support our own staff with the minimum required to keep track of the cost of living doesn’t seem right,” says McCurley.

“We felt we had to put our money where our mouth is and support not just the communities but also our staff.

“If a member of staff is not paid the minimum amount they need to be able to live on then they could ultimately be on receiving end of our services.

“It is well known that poverty in Dundee is quite pronounced and has a massive impact so we don’t want to be adding to that.”

Tayside Council on Alcohol signed up for living wage accreditation last year after making a determined effort to ensure that anyone below the minimum was raised to it.

“We just felt we should do it – the board are committed to it,” says McCurley. “We want to lead from the front and be seen as a caring employer. The Scottish Government has approved that higher amount so we are committed to matching it.”

The overarching aim of the charity is to enable communities to overcome their difficulties with alcohol and other substance misuse. There are three main services, one that works with adults, one working with children and one that works with groups. Tayside Council on Alcohol also supports kinship families where grandparents or other relatives are looking after children because of parental substance misuse.

Clients are referred in a number of ways – through employers, doctors, courts or self-referrals. Appointments are not needed for initial assessments.

In the last financial year, TCA supported a total of 1151 people across Tayside: 673 through adult counselling, 133 through mentoring services and 164 through kinship care and 181 young people affected by their own or another’s substance misuse.

“We do have positive outcomes,” says McCurley. “We’ve been around since 1973 and it is fair to say we are one of the leading agencies in our field in the Tayside area.”