Senscot Bulletin: 01.05.20

The term ‘social capital’ (with 1562 references in the Senscot archive) refers to the network of relationships across communities, that support and strengthen societies.  You’d be forgiven for considering this the opposite of the social isolating we’ve all been enduring – and that quarantine would diminish social capital – but that’s not how the social sector works. Whatever the reason for societal stress, social capital rises in response; neighbours now check if I’m ok; friends get my shopping; 750,000 citizens volunteer to support the NHS; society functions because most humans are mostly kind.  As our First Minister acknowledged in January – we need to re-evaluate what we ‘count’ as a society – GDP gives a very flimsy idea of what really contributes to collective wellbeing; the infrastructure of social capital is underinvested. (Good piece by Andy Haldane in Saturday’s FT)My personal relationship with home isolation becomes increasingly stressed and difficult to sustain.  The setting of my cottage has become a popular ‘country escape’ for dog walkers (in cars) and cyclists.  We posted a sign asking folk to stay home – but someone removed it, and Sunday sunshine brought crowds.  The present objective, not to overwhelm NHS beds, is working – but there are signs of lockdown fatigue. The five weeks of quarantine are causing me bouts of anxiety which I didn’t expect; it’s as if personal demons, dormant for years, have woken again to taunt me. The routine distractions of our normal lives, rather than fripperies – may be the very foundation of our mental health.
Selecting among the frenzy of Covid-19 journalism, I find the ‘considered’ tone of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) calming: this ‘doctors view’, on what we need to be aware of, engenders trust.  For me, the culpable blind-spot in official reactions to Covid-19, is the lack of priority given to the residents of care homes; some now predict that care home deaths will eventually equal those of the entire wider population (this is already the case in parts of Spain).  It should surprise no one, that our care for the elderly has been exposed as shameful; we’ve dithered around a national strategy for decades.  This BMJ article on the imperative of an integrated National Health and Social Care service, is untypically passionate
One of the ‘distractions’ in my normal life which supports mental health, is Saturday football; it surprises me how much I miss the, often puerile, radio chatter and the games.  This piece by the FTs Simon Kuper is called: ‘It’s harder to stay sane without sport’: ‘For some, the only community they had’.———————————–

A team led by Martin Oetting, is making a film about Wellbeing Economies; here Oetting summaries his recent conversation with Katherine Trebeck, including her thoughts on the current crisis.  She refers to our renewed awareness of the ‘foundational’ economy – schools, hospitals, supermarkets, the bin men.


In Nov 2018, rapporteur to the UN, Philip Alston, delivered a devastating report on Austerity Britain, saying that increasing levels of poverty was a deliberate Tory choice.  Alston’s focus on the very poorest in society merits our attention; this week he called the UK Govt’s response to coronavirus ‘utterly hypocritical’.


Boris Johnson’s waffling is totally exposed by this crisis – but Patrick Cockburn of the Independent thinks that his cheeky ‘wounded in action’ persona may yet save him: ‘He plugs into the traditional English sympathy for the lovable rogue – with an engaging personality and very human faults’.


Atul Gawande’s important book about the end of life, ‘Being Mortal’, has continuing influence; here he prioritises the importance of ‘autonomy’ in the ‘quality of life’ of the elderly. This is the simple ‘vision’ of an old woman Jessie who had suffered a stroke.

“She wanted a small place with a little kitchen and a bathroom. It would have her favourite things in it, including her cat, the unfinished projects, her Vicks VapoRub, a coffee-pot, and cigarettes. There would be people to help her with the things she couldn’t do without help. In the imaginary place, she would be able to lock her door, control her heat, and have her own furniture. No one would make her get up, turn off her favourite TV soaps, or ruin her clothes. She would be Jessie again, a person living in as apartment, instead of a patient in bed”.

With the number of local and thematic SEN meetings (see below) growing in volume and popularity, we will use the opportunity to gather intelligence from SEs on their plans for the future and what support, funding and investment is needed in the longer term as the sector looks towards its longer-term recovery. At present, local and thematic SENs seek to represent the interests of over 1300 social enterprises across Scotland. Amongst other things, we will be looking at the requirements in the year ahead for frontline social enterprises; how current resourcing of the sector may need to be revised; and what services should be available to the sector. A particularly pressing action will be to re-visit the proposed SE Action Plan with recommendations for a revised approach that can help re-build our sector and enable it to continue to make a vital contribution to communities across the country. Starting on 11th May, we will be launching Social Enterprise Reset Week, working with local SENs and other partners in hosting a series of local and thematic SEN meetings looking specifically at these issues. If you’d like to participate, please email Alternatively, you can contribute via a bespoke new webpage or via the hashtag #SE_RESET on twitter. Lastly, for all latest info on funding, support etc, we again refer you to our own Resources Page – and well, of course, as SCVO’s Third Sector Information Hub.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.

 This week’s SEN meetings include: Friday 1st May (today 11am) – Sport SEN – on digital  development with Aidan Gallagher from Actify– to participate, email ; Also today, Friday 1st May (2pm) – the Regular Joint Thematic SEN – to join, email; Wed 6th May (10.30am) – Sport/Health SENs – Supporting Physical Activity Virtually – with Weekday Wow Factor and Movement Evolution – to join, email
Support for social enterprise in different parts of the UK has been variable for quite some time – and we, in Scotland, have been far more fortunate than most in the ongoing and consistent support given by Scottish Govt – for over a decade. This has also been reflected in their response to the current crisis and, although there may be/have been some glitches along the way, our sector has been better supported than our colleagues elsewhere. This week, representatives of the SE community; community businesses and co-operatives wrote this letter to the Chancellor with four key proposals to help support the sector in England. You can show your support for our colleagues down south, by signing their petition.
Frontline News: P4P has launched a new guide – Collaboration during a Crisis – including this handy infographic on Scottish Procurement. For further info or some 1-2-1 support, contact
GSEN member, Caledonia Cremation has launched a bereavement support service for anyone in Scotland who has lost a loved one to the coronavirus. The scheme has been part-funded by Foundation Scotland:
Fablevision Studios is making a series of video interviews (via Zoom) with SEs across Scotland to hear what they are doing and how they are adjusting during this crisis. To participate, contact

This week’s bulletin continues our focus on the work of locally-based social enterprises and how they are responding to the current crisis in supporting the people they work with. This week, we profile the work of Glasgow SEN member, Refuweegee, set up in December 2015 to provide a warm welcome to forcibly displaced people arriving in Glasgow. Refuweegee is now supplying packs of food, toiletries and entertainment to families across Glasgow – providing over 350 packs to date They have produced this isolation support flyer – which is now available in 12 different languages. If you would like to support their work – see their donations page.