Senscot Bulletin: 02.10.15

Dear members and friends,

The Greek historian Herodotus (fifth century BC) – in his account of the Greco Persian wars – pays special tribute to the brave young Spartans at Thermopylae – who held the Gates for four days against the Persian army.  First though, under the disbelieving eyes of Xerxes himself – these Greek soldiers sprawled uncaring outside the ramparts – combing and combing their long hair. When the Persian commander demanded the meaning of this display, he was told ‘when these young men are about the leave their lives, they first make their heads beautiful’.


            I was reminded of this story by the rugby world cup on TV just now! – brutal gladiatorial combat.  ‘Everyone thinks they have a plan – until they get a punch in the mouth’, that was the first half of Scotland’s encounter with the USA.  So ferocious is some of the tackling these days that serious injury is inevitable; to limbs, to joints – more worryingly, spinal and brain damage.  And yet, each of the sickening ‘hits’ that goes in – is met with gasps of admiration from the commentators.


            The All Blacks, consistently the best rugby team in the world, start each game with a traditional Maori Haka; this centuries old, ancestral war cry, expresses perfectly the game’s deeper purpose – symbolic warfare.  Living alongside the countless thousands, who traverse Europe to escape from war zones – we are thankful, that where we live, has learned to channel destructive impulses.  International rugby is a social institution which offers a relatively harmless outlet for our human addiction to violent conquest.  I just wish it was less violent.


The gap continues to widen between what London and Scotland consider to be a social enterprise.  London moves towards a ‘social sector’, embracing a range of ‘hybrid’ organisations – which can include private profit.  Practice in Scotland tends to accord with our Voluntary Code – which enshrines an ‘asset lock’ as its benchmark.  UK law is clear: the tax and fiscal benefits available to social enterprise – are conditional on legal regulation to exclude private gain; but the strong market ideology of the UK Govt. – serves to continuously weaken this requirement.  In Scotland we can either watch, off stage, how this unfolds – or hold a deliberate (possible divisive) debate to explore a Scottish position.  There are arguments for both options.  Here’s my own view on the subject – The Gap Widens. (300 words)


Lesley Riddoch chooses to not be a professional politician – prefers the independence of the journalist and social activist – supporting front line campaigns all across the country.  Particularly in her support for local democracy, she is an important voice in Scotland.  Riddoch writes here about Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on Sunday’s Andrew Marr show – which she thought went well – except for his views on Scotland: these she thought were lazy, with howling errors and predictable weary cliché.  Corby definitely doesn’t ‘get’ Scotland’s vibe.  “Come home to Labour?”  Aye right!


If you are interested in the whole social investment (SI) landscape (and you’d be forgiven if you’re not), there are three recent documents you might read – because they are not the usual promotional pap. There’s a Third Sector piece which sets out the landscape fairly objectively (for Londoners). There’s David Floyd’s Beanbags Blog – which asks its accustomed awkward questions. And there’s a well-argued piece by SCRT’s Pauline Hinchion – urging the third sector to do its own banking. SI is a marketing ploy by moneylenders – being encouraged by the UK Govt. to sell debt finance to the third sector. As with their Big Society Capital blunder – products are remote from actual need – so the whole thing is stalled.


Apart from the fact that it’s owned by the Govt. – TVs channel 4 behaves just like a social enterprise: public benefit, trading, reinvesting all its profits in its social aims etc.  In truth it offers an excellent ‘model’ for how we could operate a whole range of public services; yet a leaked report reveals that the Tory’s will soon flog it to the private sector.  Maybe Rupert, and that woman Rebekah, would like it – as a reward for their systematic corruption of British public life. 


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Whitmuir Community Benefit Society, Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery, GalGael Trust, Out of the Blue Arts & Education Trust, Mossblown Regeneration Group, Local Energy Action Plan, Reeltime Music
EVENTS: Mixing The Colours @ Portobello Book Festival, 4 Oct; Unusual Suspects Festival, 7 Oct; EU Funds Masterclass: Borders, 30 Oct; Coalfields Community Challenge, 6 Nov; Aladdin, 20 Dec;
TENDERS: Early Learning and Childcare Provision – East Ayrshire Council, Rowan Grove Landscape Improvements – Almond Housing Association, Supply & Delivery of Fresh Bread & Rolls & other Fresh Bakery Produce – Renfrewshire Council, Glasgow City Stress Services (NHSGGC) – NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Bookings for this year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh have been coming in fast – approaching 100 delegates so far – with space for another 30/40. The programme is just about finalised and we are now inviting applications for this year’s Dragons’ Den. Closing date for application is Friday 23rd October. As always, £5k prize money will be available to the winner. There will also be crowdfunding for our audience prize. The event is again at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld, on 12th/13th November. If you would like to book your place, see bookings.


A 5th EU Masterclass will take place on Friday 30th Oct in Melrose. Like the others, this seminar will share  core information before much of the EU programmes are “open for business” – including details about various ‘strategic packages’. NB – At previous seminars, attendees have been encouraged to fill in Expression of Interest forms. If you have an application in mind, this is an opportunity to get feedback on your outline idea and how it may fit as the programmes open in the coming months. You can forward the attached form to . To attend the event in Melrose, book here. Also, see latest EU Update.


Following the publication last month of the SE Census, this has been followed by Edinburgh SEN (ESEN) and Glasgow SEN (GSEN) with a similar breakdown of stats on the SE community in their respective cities.


SCRT’s first Conference – 19th Nov at the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh – looks at ‘Social Finance: Social Investment: Social Banking – what makes them Social?’. This event is the first of its kind in Scotland and a range of discounted rates are available to SCRT members and others. For further details, see here.


As our SE community gets surveyed to death, news this week of a new survey/consultation on behalf of the sector – but this time focussed on the business community. Firstport and Social Value Lab are conducting
a piece of research – ‘Better Business, Better Scotland’ – looking at how  companies can be supported to maximise their social and environmental value. The findings of the research will be launched to 2,000 political and business leaders at the Scottish Business Awards in November. See more.


Last week, the Co-op launched its Local Fund – with £750,000 being made available to local community groups across Scotland. The Fund is on the back of the money raised through carrier bag sales. Groups can access up to £2,500 for local initiatives. Closing date is 7th October. See details.


This week’s bulletin profiles a West Lothian SEN members – CairnsMoir Connections. Based in East Calder, CairnsMoir Connections provide conference bookstalls, online sales and resource signposting for those living or working with children impacted by trauma.  They seek to offer the best international publications and providing up to date information on the latest research in child development, therapeutic interventions and training opportunities across the UK – as well as providing specialist books and resources tailored to your conference or event. CairnsMoir Connections was set up – with the support of a Firstport award – by three adopters with a combined parenting experience of over 40 years.


This from an old thumbed paperback on my bookshelf, ‘Soliloquies of a Hermit’ (1918) by Theodore Frances Powys.

 “At last I begin to know myself; I can now love the wonder that is becoming myself – can live now as I wish to live – can take every day as it is. In the old days, I thought something wonderful would happen to me – now I believe that the most wonderful thing is that nothing wonderful happens.  We are just as we are – nothing else – are we not wonderful enough?  By only hearing the wind howl in the chimney, I am filled with all the harmony of music.  By eating bread, I am fed with the whole goodness and fullness of the earth.  And when the silent mood comes, the calmness of immense seas and eternal spaces fills me…. I know now that the things of greatest value can be had for the asking – that the centre of life is always near – it is only the outer parts that are far off – hard to understand”.   
That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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