The original “No Mean City” was a book, written in 1935, about Glasgow and its razor gangs. However, in the normal sense of the word, Aberdeen is sometimes referred to as a mean city, or more precisely as a place where the inhabitants are careful, if not actually stingy, with their money.
This is a reflection of the common stereotype of the mean Scot; a stereotype that was reinforced by self-deprecating Scottish music hall comedians such as Will Fyfe. However, for the average Scot in say Glasgow or Edinburgh, Aberdeen is the meanest city in the country, encapsulated by the gag, “why are 50p pieces seven sided?” – with the answer, “so you an use a spanner to get them off Aberdonians.”
We are glad to be able to tell you that this is totally untrue! Survey after survey shows that the Scots in general are more generous than any of the other constituent nations of the UK, and Aberdeen in particular is one of the most generous areas of Scotland
A taxi app, investigating tipping for cab drivers in the UK, found residents of Edinburgh and Glasgow are twice as likely to tip their cab driver than the average Briton. Another study, by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations shows that more Scots are likely to give their money and time to good causes than the UK average, with almost 90% of Scots having donated to a charity in 2015, compared to just over 80% in England and Wales. Moreover, some 58% of Scots have donated goods to charity, 48% sponsored a fundraiser and 36% had taken part in campaign or signed a petition, while one third of all Scots have volunteered at some point, compared to only 17% down south.
When it comes to Aberdeen, a survey in 2014 by the Just Giving website came up with a list of the ten ‘most generous places in the UK. Only one Scottish City was in this top ten – that’s right, Aberdeen. In addition, a major Scottish charity, the (Aberdeen) Cyrenians, report high levels of giving from the people of north-east Scotland.
However, for me, the clincher comes in the fundraising efforts of the people of Aberdeen during the Second World War. The city raised over £2M to pay for the building of the cruiser HMS Scylla (pictured here), even though it wasn’t built in the city but rather at Scotts yard in Greenock.
In today’s rich world, £2M might not sound a lot, but it’s the equivalent to £57M today. Aberdeen certainly is no mean city!
Julie Skinner, Resourcing & Benefit Specialist