Senscot Bulletin: 01.07.16

Dear members and friends,

            Being an old guy – I assumed that the 2014 indyref was my last chance of living in an independent Scotland – but Brexit may have changed that; if our continued membership of the EU depends on being a sovereign nation – I think Scotland will go for it.  In my view, Nicola Sturgeon is instinctively overcautious – but on the issue of independence she has the mood of the people; when she fires the gun I believe she’ll take the country with her.
            I was stunned by the Brexit vote – still am; but I can now see that it is consistent with the increasingly unpredictable behaviour of electorates around the world.  Corporate power and prolonged austerity erode social democracy; societies are evolving where millions of citizens are ignored by prosperous elites.  Neal Ascherson has the theory that the internet and social media “winking, bleeping knowledge in their palms” gives this generation the impression of control over a virtual world; and with this comes increased confidence to challenge real power structures.  This is a very hopeful theory, that the free exchange of knowledge among us plebs is challenging political and commercial elites.
            But the Brexit campaign was something entirely different; out and about this week I sense a definite shift in mood; English bluster about once again becoming a ‘great power’ – the general hostility towards immigrants – makes the Scots uneasy.  There is a growing perception that Scotland is, in fact, ‘different’; whether we like it or not – independence seems to be back on the table. Interesting piece by Lesley Riddoch.


We have an example of radical electorates challenging entrenched power elites, in the repeated Labour party leadership election; the membership trying to reclaim their party from Blairite contamination.  In a climate of careerist politicians – widespread acceptance of neoliberal values – Jeremy Corbyn represents a grassroots hope for something better; the vision of a different social order. The move against him this week was a long time in preparation – carefully choreographed; because he refuses to play their games – it was backed by the entire media – including the BBC and the Guardian.  But it was not unexpected – this last desperate attempt of Labour MPs to defy their own membership; if/when Corbyn is returned as leader – a split can be anticipated; but the Labour party will have been reclaimed – can start to build again from the bottom up.


People who haven’t really thought about UBI (universal basic income) tend to think that “money for nothing” is a ridiculous idea – which will never happen; but that’s what they said about universal healthcare and the old age pension. Here are two articles – from the Guardian and the New Yorkerwhich discuss UBI as a hedge against job insecurity (when the robots replace us) but also as providing the opportunity for individual self-fulfilment. It’s long term but one senses a building credibility.


It’s easy to dismiss the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) as typical English establishment, with a token Scottish presence – but it can be more than that; they publish some feisty critical reports on a whole range of social issues. JRF wants to let a contract (£40k) to look at best practice on how city regions can prepare strategies to encourage the social economy, i.e. the social and community enterprise sector. Lot of similar work underway in Scotland – including by our Govt.


Community Enterprise Ltd is to be applauded for its ‘Where Community meets Enterprise’ event last Friday in Edinburgh. Over 120 folk turned out to hear about the challenges of community-based enterprises – the ‘heartbeat of our sector’. The audience heard from the Broomhouse Centre; Auchinleck Community Development Initiative; Craigshill Good Neighbourhood Network; and Triple Aspect Theatre Company. This was followed by a lively discussion – chaired by Yvonne Strachan (Scottish Govt) – that touched on the issues around growth/scaling up; democratic accountability; the importance of local delivery of services; TSI/SEN relations; and options for common branding/promotion. Community Enterprise will have a full report over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here’s their ‘story board of the day.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Workingrite, Penumbra, Douglas St Bride’s Community Group, Fauldhouse Community Development Trust, New Caledonian Woodlands, Transition Extreme Sports Ltd, Fife Forum
EVENTS: Merchant City Women’s Heritage Walk, 2 Jul; In Focus: Membership & Friends, 28 Jul; The Glasgow Girls of Garnethill Women’s Heritage Walk, 31 Jul; Women’s Heritage Bike Ride, 13 Aug;
TENDERS: Processing of Food Waste – East Ayrshire Council, Glasgow Abstinence Project – NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Community Based Support for a Social Enterprise – East Ayrshire Council, Independent Living Support Service – The City of Edinburgh Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Last year, the Independent Short Life Working Group (SLWG) was established to consider – how best to create a dignified and sustained strategy which supports vulnerable people; how best to address the often complex set of issues which lead people into food poverty; and how a strong partnership approach to eradicating food poverty can be developed and how collective resources and asset can be aligned. The report advocates a move away from emergency food provision towards more dignified and sustainable food provision. Recommendations include – social enterprise and community sector to continue the development of community food hubs across Scotland supported by the Fair Food Fund. To read the full report, see here.


We are all acquainted, to our cost, with the way Councils and Health Boards embraced the PPP and PFI models – getting the private sector to finance the building of schools and hospitals across the country. Short term gain for the Council etc; (big) long term gain for the developers; and long term pain for local tax payers. The SCA Briefings bring our attention to an alternative model – with a local community adopting the role of the private developer – a ‘Community Public Partnership’. A great story about the Highland community of Strontian – where they are planning to build their own school – all on a not-for-profit basis.


Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools is the Govt’s formal quality control agency – when I heard last year that they were to evaluate 3 Scottish Development Trusts (DTs) I was surprised; the history of the DT movement is unequivocally independent of statutory influence – why would DTAS move in that direction. The evaluation has now emerged – unsurprisingly glowing; what can be the harm – the positive impact of DTs independently measured – brought to the attention of Govt. I’m sure the DTAS board will have good reasons – but I have unhappy memories of state endorsement causing the decline of citizen movements. Shouldn’t/couldn’t our sector take responsibility for doing this ourselves?


The Glenwyvis Community Shares story continues to amaze onlookers. It is now the largest Community Shares Offer across the whole of the UK – smashing through the £2m mark last week. A fantastic achievement. More on this and other community share offers next week.


SCRT June Bulletin is now out. This month’s edition covers a guest blog from Mike McCudden (Social Stock Exchange); Airdrie Savings Bank’s new social mortgage; OSCR’s 2016 Charity Survey; and the difficulties smaller organisation have in accessing social investment.


Clarification: Last week’s piece on Donside Hydro scheme in Aberdeen stated that it was the first community hydro scheme in Scotland. It is, in fact the first urban-based community hydro scheme. There have been a number of other – rurally-based – community hydro schemes such as BroomPower ; Applecross Hydro; Callander Hydro amongst others. Apologies all round.


Following on from the above piece, this week’s bulletin profiles one of Scotland’s rural community hydro schemes – BroomPower. Set up by Ullapool Community Trust, they are now setting up a small-scale hydro scheme at Allt a’ Mhuilinn burn – 9 miles south of Ullapool – and have their own community shares offer – seeking to raise £900k – £130k raised so far. By converting water into electricity, BroomPower will be able to generate a significant income stream for the local community.


A remark by Winston Churchill in the aftermath of the second world war.


"We hope to see a Europe where people of every country will think of being a European as of belonging to their native land, and… wherever they go in this wide domain… will truly feel, ‘Here I am at home.’"


Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia comments on Europe’s 2014 Ryder cup victory.


"I couldn’t feel more European than when I see Swedish people, German people, British people obviously Spanish people, Italians, cheering for me. I mean, you can’t feel more European than that. I think that when everybody comes together and cheers for one, for the same cause, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. I think that’s the ultimate European feeling, I guess."



That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210