Founded in 1977, the Standing Committee of Tamil Speaking People (SCOT) is one of the older Tamil organisations in the United Kingdom. Our mission is to support the vulnerable Tamil speaking people of Sri Lanka, particularly in the Northern, Central and Eastern provinces.
Our current focus is on promoting Education, Employment and Empowerment throughout these provinces via projects that try out new initiatives on a small scale before replicating successes on a larger scale. We seek to run projects as professionally as possible within the constraints of limited time and funding from us and limited expertise and experience amongst locals. After investing the resources provided by our Members and well-wishers in the small-scale pilot projects, we promote the initiatives that prove successful to a wide array of donors with greater resources who can invest in their scaling up and continual running to deliver the widest and longest-lasting benefits possible.
From time to time, emergencies arise – sometimes natural, sometimes man-made – that affect the people we are seeking to help. Where we are competent to help deal with these emergencies fairly, effectively and efficiently, we do so, using additional funds raised from Members and other donors. We may also use funds already held if time is of the essence, replenishing them from the new funds when they become available.
All the disasters over the years that have befallen the people we support have left huge psychological and emotional scars on them, which can and do hold them back in terms of improving their lives. Supporting recovery and rehabilitation in respect of mental health via Education, Employment and Empowerment is part of our remit, working with specialist mental health charities and government organisations where appropriate.
SCOT remains a non-political charitable organisation, registered with the UK Charity Commission. We believe in working in partnership with established national and international non-governmental organisations in Sri Lanka who are best placed to identify needs and priorities for Education, Employment and Empowerment, basing funding decisions on where the need is greatest and the yield offers best value for money.
SCOT Embark on projects that would act as catalysts, promoting developments that enhance education, improve employment opportunities and empower the under-privileged, thus having potentials for long term impacts on a wider populace.
When SCOT was founded in 1977, it was in the midst of rioting and other strife in Sri Lanka that was predominantly affecting Tamil speaking people. Indeed, the test used by some of the perpetrators of the violence to select victims was the latter’s seeming preference for speaking Tamil. This wasn’t the first time such violence had happened, and as a result many members of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in the United Kingdom decided it was time to come together to collectively support the community they originated from back in Sri Lanka.
Similar violence continued to occur from time to time, leading to a murderous civil war from 1983-2009. Many people were killed on both sides, but Tamils suffered disproportionately in terms of the numbers killed, injured, displaced or dispossessed and certainly most had their normal lives interrupted and put on hold. Along the way, various natural disasters, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, have also been visited upon the suffering people.
Until recently, SCOT’s focus was mostly on survival for the people that we support. This largely meant providing safe drinking water, basic food rations, rudimentary sanitation, temporary shelter and urgent medical assistance. Many other charities were providing similar relief, some specialising in one type of support or place of delivery, others delivering on a larger scale thanks to a larger funding base. At the time, every little helped.
Since the end of the civil war in 2009 and a brief and partial recovery period thereafter, it has become apparent that given the scale of our funding and our limited ability to respond rapidly to emergencies, SCOT could bring the biggest benefit to the people we seek to support by moving from a survival mentality to a growth mentality, helping people in need get back onto the life paths they would have expected or aspired to if the disasters, and in particular the civil war, had not intervened. Recognising that these people will be restarting from a long way behind, we have redefined our mission to focus on Education, Employment and Empowerment for the people that we support. We still occasionally help with disaster relief, but we appreciate that many other bodies are better placed to do this.
How We are organised
The General Council (GC) decides strategy and manages the affairs of SCOT. It has up to 31 members, including the President and eight other officers, three elected Trustees, two immediate past presidents and 17 further members. GC members’ terms vary but all are elected at the appropriate time from the wider SCOT membership at an Annual General Meeting (AGM). GC convenes at least nine times a year, usually every month except during December and during the month when the AGM is held. Membership is open to any person who subscribes to SCOT’s objectives.
The task of implementing GC strategy and decisions rests primarily with the President, General Secretary, Treasurer and Projects officer. Members of this executive group together with other elected officers also handle the administrative work of the GC. Similarly, every application for funding received is considered and appropriate action is authorised at a GCM. Members of the executive group and the three Trustees elected at AGM are Trustees of SCOT.
SCOT places emphasis on openness and accountability in management of its affairs. Details of income and expenditure are presented at every General Council Meeting (GCM) for scrutiny and approval. At end of each financial year, the year’s Accounts audited by an independent external auditor are presented at the AGM.