London charity Scotscare celebrates 400 years

media captionMany Scots followed King James VI to London

A London-based charity is marking 400 years of helping Scottish people who find themselves in need in the capital.

The charity Scotscare, one of the oldest in the world, was founded when King James VI travelled to London to assume the English throne as James I.

The first donations were collected in a chest that remains in the charity's head office.

Last year, Scotscare helped 1,800 Scots, in areas such as housing and disability, through donations of £1.7m.

The charity was known as the Royal Scottish Corporation for the last four centuries and has three Royal Charters.

It was initially established to help Scots that followed the king to London but who fell on hard times.

Today it offers help to first and second generation Scots living within 35 miles of Charing Cross.

After 1603, Scots flocked south with many failing to make a success of the move.

The Royal Scottish Corporation was founded out of concern by those who had succeeded and wanted to look after those who failed.

At the time, Scots were not eligible for help from London parishes.

A Scots Box was set up into which wealthy Scots paid contributions, which were then distributed among the needy.

Famous supporters have included Sir Walter Scott, JM Barrie, the late Queen Mother and Queen Victoria who donated 100 guineas every year until she died.

In recent years the charity has attracted support from celebrities including Carol Smillie who modelled the world's most expensive kilt to raise Scotscare's profile.

These days Scotscare offers help such as providing sheltered accommodation, grants to pay for school uniforms and paying for training to get people back into work.

The anniversary year is being marked with a new logo and a poetry competition. Later in the year there will be a "star-studded birthday bash" in London.

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