Distillers’ Charity starts £2.5 million work with Youth Action Fund

An ambitious new charity initiative from the Scotch Whisky industry was launched this week, driven by a commitment to make a positive impact on the lives of young people across Scotland for the long term.

Founded by the Distillers’ Charity, the Youth Action Fund has been set up to distribute an initial £2.5 million raised at the inaugural Distillers’ One of One Auction in December last year – an event they organised in collaboration with Sotheby’s which saw producers from across the Scotch whisky industry come together to donate highly prized, one-of-a-kind bottles for auction.

To ensure the funds create real, sustainable and long term impact, the Distillers’ Charity has commissioned Inspiring Scotland to co-design and manage the Youth Action Fund programme of charity partners.

Inspiring Scotland will bring depth of experience and expertise in working with charity partners across Scotland to ensure the Youth Action Fund empowers young people with real opportunities to thrive, through high quality training, education, vocational and other life-enhancing opportunities – with a particular focus on helping the disproportionate numbers of young people adversely affected by the Covid pandemic.

Four initial charity partners have been selected, each committed to working collectively and around a shared set of values to enrich communities across Scotland:

Aberdeen Foyer: Based in Northeast Scotland, Aberdeen Foyer supports at-risk young people to develop new skills, take up learning opportunities, maintain positive mental health and wellbeing and move into employment.

ENABLE Scotland: Enable Scotland delivers a range of employment and skills support services across Scotland, helping over 4,500 people with disabilities or other challenges into employment. This includes their innovative school transition programme, Stepping Up, which helps young people explore their aspirations, achieve accredited qualifications and reach a positive destination after leaving school.

Street League: Street League uses the power of sport to help young people get active, learn and take positive life decisions, working in schools and communities with young people at risk of future unemployment to support them into training, education or high-quality jobs.

The Alcohol Education Trust: Operating across the UK, the Alcohol Education Trust is a leading early intervention charity supporting young people to make more informed life choices.

At a gathering of the charities, donors and industry members in Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience on Monday evening to launch the Youth Action Fund, Deputy First Minister John Swinney sent a video message of support to commend the Scotch Whisky industry’s ambition to make a difference to the lives of young people in Scotland.

Jamie Ritchie fielding bids during The Distillers One of One auction

He said: ‘I’d like to congratulate the Distillers’ Charity along with Inspiring Scotland and everyone else involved in what has already been a tremendous achievement. The success of the auction in December and the money raised is a fantastic feat, way beyond the expectations of everyone involved in this venture.

‘Raising £2.5 million, distributed through the Youth Action Fund’s charity partners with the support of Inspiring Scotland, will help make a positive and lasting difference to individuals who face challenges in reaching their full potential.

‘The amount raised is reflective of the generosity and the collaborative effort of companies big and small across the Scotch whisky industry, who have all come together to support our young people’.

Chair of the Distillers’ Charity Grant Gordon said: ‘The Distillers’ Charity is driven by a belief that every young person’s life matters, and a vision of a society in Scotland where young people can reach their full potential.

‘Powered by the collective philanthropy of the Scotch Whisky industry and their support of the biennial One of One auctions, the new Youth Action Fund will work with amazing charities to make a real difference to young people across the country, by offering education, vocational and other life enhancing opportunities. We are very proud of the collective endeavour of our industry and of what we are achieving together with this new fund.’

Inspiring Scotland chief executive Celia Tennant added: ‘I believe that with the Youth Action Fund and this impressive sum we can achieve great things and deliver vital work where it is needed most, and we are very proud to be partnering with the Distillers’ Charity to deliver this.

‘For over 13 years Inspiring Scotland has been working with the 8 to 10 per cent of young people in Scotland who need help, due to the inequality of opportunity created by experiences of poverty and trauma. This equates to around 35,000 young people who are struggling today to succeed, and while we have all been adversely affected by the pandemic, the impact on this group has been more harshly felt.

‘Unemployment has risen and vital schooling, socialisation and life experiences have been missed, and the queue of young people needing support is longer than ever. We’re committed to ensuring that the efforts of the Youth Action Fund will lead to a significant and demonstrable effect on the life chances of many young people in Scotland’.

The Distillers’ Charity is the philanthropic arm of the Worshipful Company of Distillers. It was founded in 1955 to make a difference to young people, helping them reach their full potential, improve their life chances and make a positive contribution to their communities. Find out more at https://www.distillers.org.uk/charity/