The Schemes

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To some, schemes are places of terror, to some, places of hopelessness but to many millions more they are home.

In most of the UK they are known as council estates, in the US they are regarded as the projects, but in Scotland they are called schemes. Historically, these were built on the outskirts of cities to give safe homes for returning soldiers and the working class.

Over the years, however, due to economic changes and other influences, the landscape of these places has changed drastically. While there is still a strong sense of community, with most people’s immediate and extended family growing up in the same place, and neighbours knowing each other from childhood, there is an underbelly of crime & addiction. And while there are still vestiges of the working class, with some holding down two or more jobs as they struggle to pay the bills, many of the people living in the schemes are living off benefits, in social housing, refusing to work, and have been doing so for generations.

Drug and alcohol addiction is rampant, and many in the schemes either use or deal, or both. Both illegal and legal drugs make their rounds, and there are many drug deaths as a result.

Over time, with more and more immigration, many internationals have moved in as well, which has added a very different, but very large, demographic of different nationalities and cultures. Often they are seen as outsiders and are regarded with suspicion. 

Hope for the schemes

While it is easy to fixate on the economic and cultural state of the schemes, we believe that the greatest need of each soul in the scheme is spiritual. Most living in Scotland’s schemes are spiritually dead and will never be reached by the church, and therefore will never hear the gospel. While charities meet critical social needs, they can’t meet the spiritual need that only the local church can address. We believe that gospel-preaching local churches are the best way to reach the dying souls in the schemes for Christ.


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The schemes desperately need mature Christians to come and make Jesus known. Whether short or long-term, is God calling you to serve Him in the schemes of Scotland?