REAL families in real need right across Glasgow rely on the support of the Trades House.

The mother and her two young children, for example, forced to flee their home because of domestic violence, and unable to return for their belongings, recently received money for clothes and shoes.

Then there is the family whose house was destroyed in a fire-raising attack, who were given cash towards a washing machine, new carpets and clothes; or the two-year-old girl who lives with her gran, after her mother’s death from a drugs overdose, who received a brand new pushchair; and the homeless family who were given money for bedding, storage and curtains when they finally secured a tenancy.

All of these cash awards come from the charity’s Draper’s Fund, which focuses on helping children suffering from financial poverty.

Over the past year this fund has received requests for assistance in excess of £191,000, a three-fold increase over two years. In 2018, it made awards of £145,000 - an increase of 95 per cent on the previous 12 months..

“By helping families in need, we are supporting the lives of the people who live in the city, and contributing to the life of the city,” explains Tom McInally, Deacon Convenor, town planner and Govan man born and bred.

The Trades House was created at the time of Glasgow’s local government reform in 1605, to support the craftspeople of the city and their families.

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“Over the centuries, it housed the Trades Free School for boys and girls and to this day, we have close relationships with schools, colleges and universities,” says Tom.

“We manage funds in excess of £18 million and award donations of more than £750,000 every year to deserving causes and individuals across the west of Scotland.”

He adds: “Kinship care is currently a big focus for us - last year, our Kinship Initiative, which helps children and the family members and friends who care for them when their parents are no longer able to, awarded £41,715 towards supporting homework clubs to help with education and personal development.”

The initiative also gives funds to help children go on residential breaks, removing them from sometimes chaotic home situations for a short while.

Trades House awards are also given from other funds and initiatives including the Commonweal Fund; MacFarlane Trust; Relief Fund and Education Fund.

The Trades House still meets in the Trades Hall on Glassford Street. Apart from the medieval cathedral, it is the oldest building in Glasgow still used for its original purpose.

Designed by Robert Adam, it has been well-preserved and lovingly maintained over the centuries, from the grand entrance hall with its mosaic floor and long carved oak benches – made by Belgium woodcarvers who were refugees in Glasgow during the First World War – to the magnificent stained glass window featuring the crests of the fourteen Incorporated Trades as they were in 1888.

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In the grand hall, now hired out for weddings and events, a spectacular frieze made of painted silk depicting the Trades, runs round the wall – it dates back to shortly after the Boer War.

In the saloon, used as a meeting room, Tom explains the story behind the ‘mortification boards’ on the walls.

“The boards include the names of some of the people who left donations, and they go all the way back to the 1700s,” he says.

“Often the currency used was merks (about two thirds of a pound), as well as Scots and Sterling pounds.”

Tom adds: “When the Trades House meets, the saloon is laid out like a traditional council chamber or parliament hall, with a large table down the middle.”

Tom joined Trades House through the Incorporation of Coopers in 2006, helping to run many of its charity initiatives and sitting on various committees.

He started his career as a professional apprentice with the Corporation of the City of Glasgow, and since then has been a town planner in both public and private sectors.

“It’s an exciting job, and a very rewarding one,” he says. “I’ve been involved with many redevelopments in Glasgow over the years. It’s all about making the city a better place to live.”

His work includes the redevelopment of the Gorbals, Darnley, Glasgow Harbour and central Govan (for which his work was awarded The Silver Jubilee Cup, the UK’s top planning award, in 2014).

Tom adds: “My work has given me first-hand experience of many of the social issues that exist in Glasgow.

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“It has strengthened my resolve that Trades House should highlight where assistance is needed, particularly when supporting young people.”