Senscot Bulletin: 01.09.17

Dear members and friends,

My cottage sits in woodland, on the highly-banked south shore of the river Forth – facing Rosyth; according to the historian Bede – I’m on the site of a seventh century monastery – which operated a ferry service; people must have crossed the water here for as long as it has been inhabited – thousands of years.  Tradition holds that Margaret – the saintly wife of King Malcolm Canmore – established regular ferries in the late eleventh century – to assist pilgrims (Queen’s ferry).  I enjoyed this remembrance of the car ferries which were part of my childhood – until 1964, when the road bridge opened. 
            During my thirteen years in this cottage, as a frequent visitor to ‘the Ferry’ – I’ve come to appreciate the importance of the bridges to the very identity of the town; the number of locals who recount some family connection to them.  In 2011, when work started on the new crossing, I remember some dissenting voices – ‘a superfluous vanity project’; but having watched its quiet realisation – the overwhelming sentiment is now proud ownership.
            Transport Scotland seems to have acknowledged, that those of us who live close to the bridge, feel a special attachment – because they’ve made ticket allocations, to nearby communities, for ‘visitor sessions’.  South Queensferry got 725 tickets – I was successful in the ballot – on Tuesday (5th Sept) I’ve to be at nearby Primary School for 6.30pm – when a coach will take us down to the new crossing, returning at 8pm.  While I can’t know how I’ll feel walking on the bridge – I’m surprisingly elated at the prospect.


The most significant political event this week was Labour’s softening of its Brexit position – many of us wondering what took them so long.  A four-year transitional period would allow us all to become familiar with the new landscape – take a deep breath.  This is so self-evident, that if the Tories resist – expect a ‘commons showdown’. With the continuing rise of Corbyn, Kezia Dugdale’s departure was no shock; while her politics is a bit ‘ramshackle’ – there’s no doubting her guts and determination; she seemed somehow ‘uncontaminated’ by the cynicism all around her – a most attractive quality. She’ll be pleased to escape – get her life back.


By one analysis, the internet is a liberating force – disrupting the power of media moguls like Rupert Murdoch.  By another, these former ‘gatekeepers’ have simply been replaced by the more ruthless GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) – monopolies which pose a different threat to our democracy.  The New Yorker magazine (current issue) has a ‘long read essay’ by Elizabeth Kolbert called ‘Who Owns the Internet’; her piece is largely shaped around two books: ‘Move Fast and Break Things’ by Jonathan Taplin and ‘World Without Mind’ by Franklyn Foer. Some disturbing scenarios.


Over half of mental illness probably results from adverse childhood experiences – which can often be detected while children are at school – even nursery; offering help is much more effective with children.  Yet an investigation by the BBC revealed, this week, that only 10% of Scotland’s primary and secondary schools have a dedicated in-house provision for counselling pupils under stress.  The funding packagefor Scotland’s health care strategy came under fire this week – particularly from Labour’s Monica Lennon – who wants the early intervention of school-based support to be at the heart of the strategy.


For fifty years I’ve believed in the moral justice and effectiveness of local democracy (missing in Scotland). It’s an idea I’m comfortable with which is unlikely to change.  Feel much the same about Scottish independence; the campaign has nothing to prove to me – it’s simply what needs to happen – and when the time comes – it will.  Tactically, the indy campaign now needs to uncouple itself from the SNP and the Holyrood administration. George Kerevan’s piece in the National has helped my thinking: he spells out the circumstances which will enable the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) to develop into a common space for activists of all parties.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Partick Thistle Football Club, Penicuik Community Alliance, Healthy n Happy CDT, Affordable Cremations Scotland CIC, Action Porty
EVENTS: Fife Soup 1, 1st Sep; Portobello Market, 2 Sep; DTA Scotland Annual Conference & AGM 2017, 4 Sep; Pop-up-Cafe Lunch, 5 Sep; HSCHT AGM & Annual Conference, 8 Sep
TENDERS: Provision of Family Support Workers – West Lothian Council; Recovery Focused Service for Individuals with Sustained Alcohol & Drug Use – East Ayrshire Council; HR: Assessment Centres – Scottish Government and more.  Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: A recent Audit Scotland Report has re-ignited debate around Self Directed Support (SDS). The Report identifies a number of good examples but suggests there is little real evidence of the necessary transformation required to see SDS implemented consistently and successfully across the country. In particular, it highlights that SDS is not working for people with mental health issues (see TFN article). Our own feedback from SEs delivering these services on the ground suggests a lack of forward planning by Health and Social Care Partnerships and confusion over the budgets being made available –  impacting on the availability and quality of service provision. A number of SEs are already seeing funding being withdrawn. A SEN meeting – specifically on this issue – will be hosted early in October. For more info’ on this, contact


Senscot is now ‘bedding in’ at our new premises in Glasgow. We’re not quite ready to host meetings etc but, hopefully, we will be in a position to do so within the next few weeks. However, we now have phone lines etc – with some new numbers for info: Senscot Legal – 0141-332-8084 (unchanged); Senscot – 0141-280-2570 (new); and P4P – 0141-280-2560 (new). Full postal address is 24 George Square, Glasgow, G2 1EG.


Last week’s release of the Barclay Review has prompted predictable reactions from those whose charitable status has been called into question. The private school lobby was quick to point out that paying full business rates would put them at a competitive disadvantage in the UK and globally. Another grouping threatened by the findings of the Review are the Council-run ALEOs. They too have come out fighting – with a response from Sporta Scotland (a quasi umbrella body for ALEOs) –  stating that implementing the Review would see the closure of dozens of sporting and health facilities across the country. Another option, of course, would be to see ALEOs transformed into genuine charities – owned and run by local communities. The Barclay proposals are radical – our govt is anything but – it will be interesting.


Late News: A handful of places have now become available for the CEIS SE Policy and Practice Conference on Wed 6th Sept. This year’s event takes place at SVS 200 in Glasgow – and sees the launch of the 2017 SE Census. Early indications suggest the Census will identify some encouraging developments – but also some areas of concern for the sector. To book your place, see Programme and booking details.


News this week that the 3rd John Pearce Lecture will take place on Monday, 2nd October (5pm) at the Deeprose Lecture Theatre at Glasgow Caledonian University. This year’s lecture is to be delivered by Laurie Russell of the Wise Group. Laurie follows Willie Roe (2015) and Pauline Graham (2016). Laurie announced a couple of weeks back that he will be retiring after 11 years as CEO at the Wise Group. The theme of his lecture will be: “Are social enterprises in Scotland fit and agile enough to face the challenges of the future?. The evening will also include an update on the Social Enterprise Collection (Scotland). See details on bookings etc.


This week’s bulletin profiles a venture supported through the Firstport LaunchMe initiative. The Scottish Design Exchange (SDX), based in Ocean Terminal in Leith, is a unique concept store and creative community set up to help artists and designers experience retail. In the shop – opened in 2015 – fashion designers, artists, textile and jewellery designers, publishers, photographers, product manufacturers and others work together to share the costs involved in running a busy store. SDX also works closely with a range of social/community enterprises both in Edinburgh and in Glasgow.


Frankie Boyles’s humour is often too brutal for me – probably an age thing; his Observer piece, this week, about Trump was also thoughtful; this is how he ended it:


                “The US has always been balanced on uneasy contradictions.  Even the constitution promises both the right to freedom of speech and the freedom to have a gun to shoot people who annoy you.  Right at the heart of its contradictions are the twin ideas of liberty and enslavement, its founding principles of ‘freedom’ and ‘but not for everybody’.  If I had to guess what was at the forefront of the minds of the American right at the moment, I’d say voter suppression.  It doesn’t matter that the US has a rhetorical attachment to democracy.  Through its actions as a state it had long undermined any connection between its stated ideals and its actions.  I think the US will now face a long struggle to avoid a slide into totalitarianism, led of course by people calling themselves libertarians.”


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