The word “uncertainty” is used a lot just now.
With political paralysis over leaving the EU, economic exhaustion for employers and employees and a social strain created by budget cuts and rising demand, times are tough.
The latter concern was raised by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations at its annual conference this month – yet chief executive Anna Fowlie also said some charities “still feel optimistic”.
It was an odd choice of words but I think Anna hit the nail square on the head.
There was tangible optimism in the air last week when I visited the St Ninian’s Stay and Play Family Support Project in Mid Craigie.
As I arrived, negotiations were being conducted with a funder about a significant sum to sustain the long-term resilience of the project but staff and volunteers were upbeat and the place was buzzing.
Stay and Play offers structured programmes and therapeutic services for isolated families with children and the group sees it all, from adult illiteracy to domestic violence.
The Resolution Foundation released figures this month in which the author Adam Corlett projected that child poverty will rise to record levels in the next five years, driving an additional one million children across the UK into poverty.
Rhona Armitage, together with local minister Fay Lamont, pioneered the Stay and Play project in 2011 following the release of figures confirming that the area in which they operate is among the 5% most deprived in Scotland.
Rhona is a salt of the earth character, humbly describing herself as “the general dogsbody” when she is, in fact, the consistent thread weaving the whole tapestry together. A real Dundee worthy!
But the real legacy is written in the lives of the mums the group supports.
Kelly McMillan, 34, has a learning disability and was suffering from a lack of confidence until a support worker brought her and her beautiful wee girl Robyn along.
As two-year-old Robyn played happily in the background, Kelly said: “I would never have come here alone but they welcomed me and rebuilt my confidence. Now I bring Robyn myself.”
She added: “Here, they’re not just interested in Robyn’s development but mine too.
“We are one big family – this has become a second home and they make me a better mum.”
St Ninian’s restores a sense of family for those whose relationships have come undone, recreates a second home for those whose safety has been eroded and reignites hope in mums whose aspirations have been affected.
For the wonderful women I met here who are swimming against that tide of uncertainty I referred to, projects such as this provide an anchor when they might otherwise be swept away.