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History

Ordinary people, uniting together to achieve the extraordinary. 

In 1965, in St Columkillie’s Primary School in Rutherglen, a small group of Catholics founded SCIAF with the aim of helping the world’s hungry and underprivileged. Guided by the principles of the Second Vatican Council, Monsignor John Rooney and John McKee set up SCIAF in a Rutherglen classroom with a budget of just £8,000. 

Their aim was to help the world’s poor and inspire Scottish Catholics to respond to the Gospel call for a just world. These ordinary men sought to do the extraordinary.

Cannon Rooney and John McKee, SCIAF Stall, 1970

From the start, the Scottish Catholic community responded to our Gospel call for a just world, giving money to help people affected by the 1968 famine in Biafra (now part of south-eastern Nigeria) and drought in Bihar in India. Our work continued through the decades, providing direct help to those in need overseas including Vietnamese refugees fleeing their country in the mid-1970s and Ethiopians hit by the terrible famine in the mid-1980s.

Today we are a family of thousands of people doing amazing things, from generous supporters in parishes, schools and homes across Scotland, to volunteers who spread the message about our work week in, week out, and our partners on the ground who work tirelessly to ensure the most vulnerable people get the help they need.

In more recent years we’ve continued to respond to the cries of those in need - promoting peace in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, getting life-saving aid and long term support to families devastated by the Asian Tsunami of 2004, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008, Nepal earthquake in 2015, as well as helping Syria refugees up to the present day.

Water in Ethiopia

And since we were founded, millions of men and women across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East have been given the tools they need to work their way out of poverty. While in schools and parishes across Scotland, we’ve helped generations of supporters to put their faith into action and reach out to those in need overseas.

Extraordinary achievements like this are only possible thanks to the wonderful people who make up SCIAF. Though there is still so much to do, we believe we can end poverty if we all work together.

“We Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters; to touch it, to make it our own and take practical steps to alleviate it… Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution in the world

Pope Francis