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SCIAF Logo largePage Contents:

The Origins of SCIAF

Their Work

Ways to Help


The Origins of SCIAF

SCIAF was started in 1965 by the Catholic Bishops of Scotland with the help of three key people:

– John McKee, Head Teacher at Holyrood Secondary in Glasgow.

– Monsignor John Rooney, Parish Priest of St Columbkille’s, Rutherglen, Glasgow.

– Bishop Michael Foylan, Aberdeen Diocese

From humble beginnings, SCIAF has grown to become Scotland’s leading international aid and development agency.


Their Work

SCIAF stands for ‘Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund’.  They are the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in Scotland, and the Scottish representative of Caritas Internationalis, a global network of 170 Catholic aid agencies.  SCIAF works in partnership with local communities, of all faiths, in Africa, Asia and Latin America to help some of the world’s poorest people free themselves from poverty.  They provide tools, training and support so that they can grow their own food and earn enough money to provide for themselves and their families – not just for a few months or a year, but for life.  Their vision is of a world in which all people, especially the poor and oppressed, have the opportunity and the means to live life and live it to the full.

Money is raised here in Scotland in order to help people living in poverty overseas. SCIAF don’t believe in quick fixes, instead they work with local people to help them come up with long-term solutions to poverty.  This is achieved in three main ways:

1. Supporting poor communities.  SCIAF work with local partners in 15 of the world’s poorest countries providing seeds, tools and training so that people can grow enough food and get clean, safe water.  They also help to build peace in communities that have been torn apart by war, support families affected by HIV and AIDS, and provide education, training, and small loans so that people can earn a living.

2. Disaster relief.  SCIAF is part of Caritas, the world’s largest network of Catholic aid agencies. When disaster strikes, they work through Caritas to immediately get food, water, shelter, and medical care to those who need it most.  They also run cash-for-work programmes employing local people to carry out vital jobs (like clearing rubble or digging latrines) in exchange for a wage.  In the months and years that follow, they help communities to rebuild their lives and protect themselves from future disasters. 

3. Campaigning for change.  To end poverty for good, we have to do something about the issues that keep people poor. Here in Scotland SCIAF raise awareness about the causes of global poverty in schools and parishes. They also campaign for change by putting pressure on UK politicians and the heads of big business to make choices that make life easier, not harder, for the world’s poorest people. 

SCIAF fund community-based projects run by local partners in 15 of the world’s poorest countries.

• In Africa they work in: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.

• In Asia SCIAF work in: Burma, Cambodia and India.

• In Latin America they work in: Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua.

As a member of Caritas Internationalis, they also work with their Caritas partners to respond to humanitarian disasters in countries where they may not have existing partners.

 SCIAF works closely with sister charities in the Caritas network – particularly CAFOD (England & Wales) and Trocaire (Ireland) – sharing resources, knowledge and information to save costs where possible.  They are a member of CIDSE – a network of 15 Catholic aid agencies from Europe and North America, and are also involved in a number of coalitions and consortiums enabling them to work in partnership with a wide range of charities and organisations who share a common goal or cause.  Amongst others, these coalitions include Traidcraft, Will Aid, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, the Trade Justice Movement and Take One Action.

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Ways to help

There are many different ways to give, act and reflect with SCIAF.  

– Donations can be made by phone, post, online, or by setting up a monthly direct debit.  Support SCIAF during Lent with their WEE BOX Campaign.

– Participating in SCIAF Campaigns to help them achieve political change.  

– Becoming a parish Contact.  Volunteers play a vital role in supporting their life-changing work.

– If you are looking for a special gift for a special occasion SCIAF Real Gifts provide practical help for people in poverty.  Choose a gift from their range and receive a beautiful card and fridge magnet to pass on to your friend or family member.


Reproduced by kind permission of SCIAF 

For further information please visit their Website:


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