Sands Lothian to get £30k cash boost from Holyrood

THE parents’ group which uncovered the Mortonhall ashes scandal is set to receive £30,000 funding from the Scottish Government to help in its work counselling and befriending the families affected.

Sands Lothian has seen demand for its services soar since the revelations that for 45 years the ashes of stillborn and days-old babies who had been cremated at Mortonhall were buried in cardboard boxes, while parents were told no remains were left.
But while the charity’s 
workload has soared, its resources have fallen because staff and volunteers were too busy coping with the scandal to do any fundraising.

Yesterday, the Evening News reported how Lothians Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale was calling on the Scottish Government to help plug the funding gap.

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Now Sands has been offered a one-off grant from the government of up to £30,000.

Sands operations manager Dorothy Maitland said it was welcome news.

She said the group’s ten befrienders and two qualified counsellors had seen a huge increase in demand since news of the scandal broke.

Ms Maitland added: “Every day I speak to a parent who wants to meet up with one of our befrienders or come along to a group.”

She said Sands had met Public Health Minister Michael Matheson and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, last week but the funding issue had not been discussed.

Sands Lothians’ running costs are around £95,000 a year.

Ms Maitland said: “I think we are still going to speak to the council because they did say a few weeks back they would consider giving us funding as well.

“Some parents feel quite strongly that rather than the government paying, it should be the city council because it’s their mess and they should be doing something about it.

“This is going to be an ongoing thing. For a lot of parents, it has put them back to square one.

“We don’t want to have to worry about the financial side of things and keeping having to fundraise.”

Ms Dugdale said: “Sands had to cancel their usual ­fundraising in December in order to deal with the scandal.

“I contacted Michael Matheson on Tuesday night, urging him to step in with financial support.

“I am thrilled to see that his officials have now got in touch with Sands Lothian and made this offer.”