The donor inside drives Renfewshire charity pioneer

POWERED by the two donated organs that saved his life - and guided by his Christian faith - 51-year-old Russell Macmillan, who is also registered blind, has battled the odds to help over 1,500 individual people in East Renfrewshire.
Russell Macmillan of East Renfrewshire Good Causes. Picture: ContributedRussell Macmillan of East Renfrewshire Good Causes. Picture: Contributed
Russell Macmillan of East Renfrewshire Good Causes. Picture: Contributed

Despite his struggles, Russell is delighted to be still alive - and is now celebrating the ninth anniversary of the East Renfrewshire Good Causes charity which he set up in memory of his donor, raising over a quarter of million pounds.

Born in 1964 in Glasgow, he was diagnosed with type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes on his eighth birthday.

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He carried on to be very sporting, drove a car, but then went on to become registered blind through diabetic retinopathy by the time he was 23 years of age.

Despite being blind and diabetic, he went on to establish a successful video leasing business, employing four staff and 30 franchisee’s, which ran for almost 20 years before the video rental business declined due to satalite and internet streaming technology overtook the shop-based home film rental business.

ERGoodCauses was set up in 2007 by Russell following his life-saving, diabetes and kidney failure-curing double pancreas and kidney transplant.

He said: “I decided to giving something back and say thanks to God for my second chance of life, and to honour the memory of the sadly deceased organ donor, whose organs live on inside me, to help other people.

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“In following my own personal Christian beliefs, I have found no greater pleasure in life than to try and ‘Love my Neighbours’ to the best of my ability.

“I am asking for all people to join with me in the same satisfaction of helping our own neighbours within East Renfrewshire.”

All their grant requests come from trusted, trained frontline staff from teachers, doctors, nurses, health and social workers, to name just a few.

Russell said: “These people are aware of what the state can supply, so they identify additional goods that are not provided by the statutory sector.

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“This vital ‘Knowledge of Need’ is what drives our fundraising efforts here in East Renfrewshire.”

He added: “It is incredible to think the organs living on inside me have now helped so many people in such practical ways.

“I do hope the organ donor is looking down approvingly of the wonderful work being done, thanks to her gift of life to me.

“I personally find it frightening, when I see the amount of thingsthat are having to be provided by the charity sector, and with continuing austerity combined with an ageing population, things are likely to be getting much worse.”

“I would appeal for all other local authority areas in Scotland to replicate the East Renfrewshire Good Causes mode, to facilitate each community to rally round and provide more resources to the hard pressed frontline workers who operate at the coal face of our society.

“Together, we can provide additional things and match them to the trained frontline workers ‘knowledge of need’ in each area.

“I would like to thank every frontline worker from homeless to health and social care workers, who are the modern ‘eyes and ears’ of local need in our area.

“These workers direct the money we raise to plug the growing needs in our areas, and they are the strength behind the success of ERGoodCauses, along with the 2 donated organs that made ERGC possible”

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In the last six months, ER Good Causes has raised another £20,907, bringing the total over the last nine years to £276,889.

In total, 1,541 people have been assisted by the aid.

Some of the most recent beneficiaries include Eastwood Rotary Club/Maxwell Mearns Castle Christian Support Fund to create a level access driveway/storage hut/outdoor electric charge point for a mobility scooter pensioner.

They have provided ‘peer homework support sessions’ for a teenager with health issues who had fallen behind and lost confidence in maths after missing many lessons.

They have given cash to provide a tank of petrol to help support a husband who is a full time carer and take his wife who has motor neurone disease to a specially adapted caravan.

The charity also covered some small additional costs that arose for a pensioner who cared for his dying wife and a clothing grant to allow a teacher to buy a teenager some appropriate gear to enable them to attend interviews for college and a part time job.

Last month they paid £500, which unlocked £500 from another trust, towards a wet floor shower adaptation to help an adult stroke victim and his carer wife.

Russell said: “Please become a friend of ERGoodCauses by signing up to a regular, monthly standing order, from as little as £5 per month for individuals and from £25 per month for business supporters.

“Together we can show our neighbours that we care about them. 100% of personal donations are spent directly on good causes in East Renfrewshire.”