Senscot Bulletin: 02.04.15

Dear members and friends,


            Down in London last Thursday/Friday – invigorated by the crowds, the energy – the sheer size of everything; the inferno of market forces rages everywhere – a kind of money mania.  The capital sucks in investment – tower cranes are back; but it’s based on the delusion of endless property inflation – which has a human cost.  For two years – as a young man – I got to know areas of central London; I stroll around for hours – enjoying memories of who I once was.  Inflated property values are stripping out small scale family businesses – changing the character of places.
            By the time I get to Leicester Square I’m tired – then appalled at how ugly it has become – rowdy, low end tourism and tat.  Escape into a lane leading up to Chinese Soho; but something is familiar here – yes – on the right – Notre Dame de France – a beautiful wee church I used to visit – a kind of French chaplaincy.  Inside Mass is in progress – a few dozen attending; good memories rush back – the remembered peace of this space – that joyful tapestry behind the altar – first admired when I was 18.  On my left, in the back rows, 9 homeless men are slumped asleep.  For some reason this lifts my mood; vagrants in the ‘house of God’; Jesus would approve.            Mass, including a short homily, proceeds serenely; the priest is a mild man – the homeless slumber in peace – bestowing a kind of innocence.  I remain there for some time – resting – then go for a Chinese – a family-run place.


This bulletin enjoys having a pop at the hype and hubris around ‘so-called’ social investment (SI); just money lenders chasing markets.  Senscot supports David Floyd’s Alternative Commission on SI – and I was down on Friday for the launch of its report: After the Goldrush. The report is bold – and the list of recommendations (worth a read) makes solid suggestions for improving the delivery of real SI (including what to do with the failed Big Society Capital). But whenever I’m down south, I’m always aware of an elephant in the room: the willingness of the ‘London crowd’ – to share their SE space with private profit businesses. Scots consider our third sector to have aims and values which commercial markets neither understand nor honour – that they rarely make suitable partners. One of the report’s recommendations for the future of SI – is that ‘we do it ourselves’. The Scottish Community Re:Investment Trust (SCRT) starts from the position that our sector has enough reserves to be the source of its own investment. This points the way.


I watched the whole of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to the SNP Conference this week – suspect I’ve become a fan. I am also a fan of Neal Ascherson whose occasional journalism carries the authority of a modern historian. In this Guardian piece – he warns the SNP that holding the balance of power on the Westminster see-saw could be a bumpy ride. He recounts the story of Parnell’s Irish Home Rulers – who got sucked into the clamour of London intrigues – lost touch with their own people. Or Labour’s ‘Feeble Fifty’ – who disappeared south without trace. Great Private Eye cover.


Reader sends a short video of Harry Smith – a 91 year old war veteran – telling the Labour Conference what life was like for poor people in the 1930s – before the NHS. Very moving. But the Labour Party cheering him is part of the privatising cabal. See more.


I can remember writing in the 1960s – that future generations would hardly believe, that our schools were equipped with specially designed weapons to strike children’s hands; that this was legally sanctioned.  I believe that the same incredulity will apply to our present denial of assisted suicide to people in end of life pain and distress.  This week, legal experts from across Scotland, again, urged MSPs to address the alarming lack of clarity in Scots law about assisted suicide.


The political scientist Robert Putnam is best known for his 2000 book, Bowling Alone – which plots the decline of social capital in USA society.  He’s 74 now (my age – a bit over the hill) but still productive; his latest book – Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis – has as its theme the marked decline of social mobility in the USA.  “We were poor but didn’t know it” is how Putnam’s old classmates put it; now a community ravaged by inequity.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: Cyrenians, Maryhill Housing Association, Local Energy Action Plan, Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, Rosies Café, Turning Point Scotland, Blantyre Soccer Academy, WEvolution, Crossreach
EVENTS: Puppet Animation Festival, 9 Apr; Social Impact Measurement, 16 Apr; Dragons’ Den (Coalfields Regeneration Trust and SEAM), 23 Apr; Community Shares Scotland – Edinburgh Roadshow, 1 May;
TENDERS: Community Meals – Scotland Excel, Green roofs – Brookfield Multiplex, Provision of Supplementary Transport Service – NHS Ayrshire & Arran, ICT Digital Skills Transition Training Fund for The Highland and Islands – Skills Development Scotland.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: The Sport SEN met in Perth this week for its annual national meeting. Meetings tend to take place regionally – due to the growth in numbers of Sport SEN members – however, members are keen to take the opportunity to come together nationally at least once a year. The day kicked off with ‘lightning talks’ giving members 2 mins to get to know each other – followed by a Q&A Session with some of the SENs more experienced members – Bobby Pollock, Newmilns Ski Slope; Neil Mathieson, Atlantis Leisure;  and David Duke, Street Soccer. The day concluded with world café sessions linked to other thematic activity – that include Tourism; Health; Sport for Development; and Working with Corporates. For more on the Sport SEN and its work, contact See more SENs News


The Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015 is underway. This survey is seeking to capture the size, scale and reach of SE in Scotland – for the first time ever.  Social Value Lab is carrying out the work – and the full report will be publically available in September 2015. This is an important milestone for SE in Scotland and it would be great help if you could take 15/20 mins to fill in the survey – link above. See background


The new Village SOS programme has now been launched in Scotland. Being led by Rocket Science, with support from Forth Sector and Senscot, the focus of the programme in Scotland is about helping communities who want to take forward a project or enterprise to get support from communities who have already been through this experience – with additional technical support provided as necessary. You can get involved with Village SOS is three ways: a) as a member – participating and receiving regular updates form Village SOS; b) becoming a supported community – receiving resources and support for your community project or social enterprise; or c) become a mentor –  supporting a community through the development and/or delivery of their project. If you would like to know more or get involved, see details.


Reminder: This Monday – 6th April – Sport SEN members will be taking over our social media outlets to participate inInternational Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). They will be engaging media outlets across Scotland, the UK, and the world to draw attention to the SE and Sport sector and promoting their work in communities across Scotland – engaging with thousands of people of all ages. To join in, see #sport4betterworld – or to contribute, contact or See more


This week’s bulletin profiles a social venture new to the Scottish landscape in that it will be providing public affairs services for community groups, individuals, companies and other organisations. Set up by Pauline McNeill and Sarah Stone – both with considerable experience of the political landscape both north and south of the border – ‘McNeill and Stone’ will offer services aimed at improving public engagement, developing campaign ideas, influencing public policy and understanding Scottish politics. Whilst McNeill and Stone will be providing services for public and corporate sector clients, this work will also allow them to provide free and affordable support for groups who might otherwise not have access to professionals. See more




Tony Judt (1948 – 2010) was an outstanding historian of the modern world; he never thought that his dying memoir – The Memory Chalet – would be published; but it is a book to treasure.


            “Love it seems to me is that condition in which one is most contentedly oneself.  If this sounds paradoxical remember Rilke’s admonition: love consists in leaving the loved one space to be themselves while providing the security within which the self may flourish.  As a child I always felt uneasy and a little constrained around people.  Solitude was bliss.  ‘Being’ always felt stressful – something to do, someone to please, a duty to be inadequately fulfilled.  ‘Becoming’ on the other hand was relief; I was never so happy as when I was going somewhere on my own and the longer it took to get there the better.”


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