Senscot Bulletin: 02.08.19

Dear members and friends,

I remember watching football as a lad at Easter Road – while wildly celebrating a Hibs goal, my eye would sometimes stray to the beaten goalkeeper retrieving the ball – and I’d feel his pain. This tension, felt when someone experiences both positive and negative emotions simultaneously, is called emotional ambivalence: it’s both uncomfortable, and a useful ‘different look’ at the world. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ambivalent about winning and losing – the distortions of our all-out competitive culture.

A constant in my life – for over forty years – was our Wednesday golf gathering; between 8-16 of us – a ‘man’ thing. By common consent, we all pretended that ours was a highly competitive, winner-takes-all culture – ‘proxy warfare’ – but the reality was very different. People with too much hard-edged desire-to-win were not welcome. As a friendship group, long-term stability depended on looking after each other; winning and losing was ‘unconsciously moderated’ – kept in balance; no red-hot winners – no stone-cold losers.

There is nothing intrinsically stopping us from being a co-operative species rather than a competitive one: differences between winners and losers kept in balance. A surplus of sustainable food and energy is already available to us; only selfishness and greed prevent its fair distribution. Most of us know that having a good life is not so much about achieving goals as it is about loving and being loved. Yet our leaders strut the global stage – in dangerous, ape-like contest to determine the pecking order.



Good article by Simon Kuper in the FT Weekend Mag. – he argues that in both the US and the UK, a new ‘dominant tribe’ has been formed and then radicalised – followers being taken on a journey they couldn’t have imagined. Trump telling congresswoman to leave the country; UK Leavers moving to ‘no deal’ as the only ‘real’ Brexit etc etc. Kuper points out that Trump and Johnson do a similar routine – both can adopt a camp/comic persona “that evades the distinction between reality and performance”. Really ‘entertainers’, whose extraordinary communication skills build a growing fanbase – doesn’t look good.



In May, the UN Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston, published his final report on poverty and human rights in the UK – which could hardly have been clearer. Since 2010, for ideological reasons, the UK govt, has deliberately replaced much of the UK social safety net with harsh austerity – tipping the poorest into destitution. Good piece, this week, by Pennie Taylor in the Ferret – exploring the causal links between UK imposed austerity and ill health/ premature death in Scotland. One of the experts quoted is Prof. Danny Dorling – who believes austerity is killing people: “I’ve never seen anything quite as clear as this”.



Sally Magnusson helped care for her late mother who suffered from dementia; by accident, the family noticed that playing personal music helped her mother connect to her past life – even reduced the need for medication. Magnusson started ‘Playlist for Life’ to establish a network of community Help Points, which share experience on how best to use this knowledge. With an award of £1.6m from the Lottery, Playlist now aims to grow the network to 1500 across the UK. Over the years, I’ve noticed how the best charities/social enterprises are often founded directly from this kind of personal experience.



Many progressives (including myself) consider that Labour has been too timid in asserting that our profoundly unequal education system damages the fabric of our nation. A recently launched caucus – Labour Against Private Schools – has devised a policy for the integration of all schools into the state system. They want to make it a Labour Party manifesto pledge. Good New Statesman article.



We humans experience the visitation of occasional ‘grace events’ – which we cannot summon – only enjoy. This short poem ‘Gift’ by Czeslaw Milosz is about such a ‘glimpse’. For me too – working in the garden – brings ‘another dimension’ closer than usual.


“A day so happy. Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden. Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers. There was nothing on earth I wanted to possess. I knew no one worth envying him. Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot. To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me. In my body I felt no pain. When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.”

The first week in September is Social Enterprise Week in Glasgow. The week will see an array of activities and events celebrating social enterprise in general – but, in particular, the contribution being made to the city by Glasgow SEN members – with over 40 events taking place throughout the week. Activities (all free) on offer cover arts, children and families, health and wellbeing, food, education, karting sessions, tennis competitions, guided tours and more – all highlighting how social enterprises are changing communities for the better. Glasgow SEN was set up in 2008 and has been providing its 140 members with a range of services from information-sharing and peer support to resources and access to events and training. As well as these, CEIS is holding its regular SE Policy and Practice Conference on 4th Sept; and the annual John Pearce Memorial Lecture will be taking place at Glasgow Caley on 3rd Sept. See links for further details.

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

The Government’s new Business Support contract – Just Enterprise – is due to launch this month, providing a range of business supports services to third sector organisations. However, across the wider community sector, there are many organisations that are not currently trading but, with a little targeted support, could be generating additional income for themselves. A new programme now exists to help such organisations.

Accelerate is a partnership between Scottish Community Alliance and Community Enterprise aimed at delivering support to community organisations not currently trading but which have an interest in exploring the potential for further income generation.



Frontline News: DTA Scotland is holding its annual conference at the Westerwood Hotel (near Cumbernauld) on 1st and 2nd September. This year’s conference is on the theme – “Development Trusts – People…Place…Progress!”. See full conference details. The newest local social enterprise network – Angus SEN – is hosting an event in Arbroath on 28th Aug – showcasing the work of local members. See details. And another new SEN could be on the way. After a successful event in Arran in May,  a follow-up event is being held on Wed 14th August on the island to look at the formation of the new Arran SEN  – all welcome.



Scottish EDGE looks to identify and support Scotland’s up-and-coming and innovative entrepreneurial talent – and includes a category specifically for social enterprises. Shortlisted social enterprises are invited to pitch at the Social Enterprise EDGE final (12th Nov 2019) – for a top prize of up to £100k (60% loan – 40% grant). See full details. Closing date – 4th Sept.



Last week, we highlighted a couple of blogs produced by Senscot Legal – one by Kirsty Noble on partnership working and the legal implications; and the other, by Annie Morris, on charities and trading subsidiaries. Both have received very positive feedback – so were running them again this week. Senscot Legal’s next blog will cover the legal implications of employing staff. As part of the SE Action Plan, they also produced a set of Governance Guiding Principles for SEs. For more info, contact



This week’s bulletin profiles a member of Edinburgh Social Enterprise that provides training opportunities for people with learning disabilities to learn skills that would help them work within the retail/charity retailing sector or customer facing environment. All Together Edinburgh, set up 2010, opened its first charity shop in 2011. The shop is an ideal practical setting to learn an array of skills relevant to the retail field – allowing trainees to interact with the public and to increase awareness of people with learning disabilities – and was the first of its kind in Scotland. All Together Edinburgh now offers a nationally recognised skills accredited programme from Borders College for trainees with the current programme staring this month.