'Solidarity not charity' - Edinburgh volunteer organisation co-founded by T2 Trainspotting actor Bradley Welsh comes to an end

An organisation co-founded by T2 Trainspotting actor Bradley Welsh to challenge social and economic inequalities by empowering communities in Edinburgh has come to an end.

Friday, 1st January 2021, 12:38 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd January 2021, 10:15 am
Helping Hands was set up by Bradley Welsh (left) and Jim Slaven and helping disadvanted children across Edinburgh was at its core. Pic: Ian Rutherford

In a video posted on Youtube, co-founder Jim Slaven said the new year was an appropriate time to announce the end of their all volunteer Helping Hands group which delivered sports programmes for disadvantaged children – and during this summer alone provided more than 120,000 cooked meals to those in need.

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh was among the many to voice praise of their achievements on Twitter, writing: “He would be the very last person to accept an honour but nobody deserves one more than my friend @JimSlaven. The man is a legend.”

Mr Slaven said he and Bradley had previously decided the 2019 summer football and boxing programme for children would be the most appropriate time for Helping Hands to leave the stage, but after Bradley’s death in April of that year, the group decided that leaving then could have created a “dangerous vacuum” in many of the communities they worked in and decided to carry on.

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The 48-year-old boxing gym boss was shot dead outside his home in the city’s Chester Street on April 17, 2019.

In the five minute Youtube video, Mr Slaven said the only place for Helping Hand volunteers to be was “on the front line” during the Covid pandemic in 2020.

During the summer, they delivered more than 120,000 cooked meals right across the city and even more survival packs of non-perishable food, toiletries and further support through the likes of their advice hotline, mental health support and physical activities.

Mr Slaven, who started the organisation with Bradley in 2014, continued: “Part of Helping Hands was always the idea of inspiring people to do more in their own communities and to break the culture of dependency.

“We wanted to show it was possible for people to create change in their communities and not be dependent on the state, or the charity sector, or on Helping Hands.”

Mr Slaven said the organisation has done what it has without any state or corporate funding and has just been “people helping people,” and that working outside of the state system has enabled them to “highlight and expose many of the flaws within it.”

He also claimed to have seen up-close the “collusion between the state and anti-working class elements” in communities and the “corruption and incompetence of politicians and officials at every level of government,” which he says negatively affects “our communities” and not those they live in.

He also said millions of pounds have been “wasted on the poverty industry” which he described as a tool of social control rather than a means to eradicate poverty.

Mr Slaven hopes the knowledge Helping Hands has gained through experience can provide vital assistance to other community organisations.

He added: “Everything we have achieved, we have achieved because of the support of citizens of Edinburgh and I want to thank every single one of them.”

Specifically, he thanked people from the communities they have worked in, especially the Helping Hands children for their participation and enjoyment of their sports coaching programmes, as welll as their many volunteers.

He added: “This city belongs to all of us and always remember - solidarity not charity.”

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