Senscot Bulletin: 02.12.16

Dear members and friends,
In October I applied to the DVLA to renew my driving license – informing them that I have been diagnosed with ‘macular degeneration’ (whatever that is); I was instructed to make an appointment at Specsavers for a vision assessment.  The main test involved looking through a visor at a dark screen – ‘follow the red light and press the button when you see a green dot’.  But I’ve always had a degree of red/green colour blindness – couldn’t easily follow the red light; I had to repeat the test – ended a bit despondent about my performance.
            Lately I’ve been imagining life without the car – it comes down to freedom and independence. Household chores come first – then within an hour of my cottage, I have my own selection of favourite places – beaches, woodlands, hilltops, villages – so many happy memories to visit – collected over a lifetime.  I know fine that old age means adjusting to new incapacities and dependencies – but psychologically I don’t yet feel done with driving.
            Last Friday I received notification from the DVLA – ‘from the information we have received you satisfy the medical standards for safe driving’ – YES!! –  and on Tuesday my beautiful new driving license arrived (expiry date 20.12.2019).  I bought my wee Fiat Panda in Dec 2007 – my cheerful companion for nine years; with a new exhaust and rear suspension she passed her MOT on Wednesday.  We’re both a bit ramshackle – but (touch wood) the open road beckons for a few more years.


When in 1959 Fidel Castro marched victorious into Havana, I was 19; all during the ‘60s and ‘70s, the walls of student flats were adorned with posters of Fidel and his compadre, Che Guevara – symbols of the peoples revolution. Without examining the pros and cons of its various achievements – it is nothing short of amazing that this ‘communist dictatorship’ survived so long against the unrelenting hostility of the USA; impossible without popular consent. Dr Denise Baden offers a more sympathetic view of Cuban society – acknowledging the personal charisma and leadership of Fidel himself. On the streets with mourners – the Guardian quotes Elena (36) who has long wanted the end of dictatorship, but was in tears. “Of course I’m crying,” she said “we Cubans are Fidelistas even if we are not communists”. See also Scottish Review’
In recent weeks – without a ripple of public or media interest – the SNP govt has pulled off one of its most daring centralising measures: the amalgamation, under one ‘overarching board’, of Scottish Enterprise, HIE and several other national agencies. Writing in Scottish Review – Brian Wilson calls is ‘the most dramatic centralising initiative in modern Scottish history’. Regardless of left/right political policies – I want to live in a country with an infrastructure of vibrant local democracy; I now accept that it is the settled determination of the SNP to take Scotland in exactly the opposite direction – but I can’t get a handle on why.




As a frontline community worker for many years, I enjoyed Douglas Robertson’s piece in Bella Caledonia; his review of 50 years of failed Scottish regeneration programmes; he traces the ‘Groundhog Day’ quality of our efforts – endlessly repeating the same mistakes. The piece concludes that regeneration and renewal, as practiced in Scotland, has been a superficial and cosmetic process – because it fails to challenge the deeply entrenched power structures in our society – and the interests of the powerful always determine how things should be. (10 great black and white images).
 The broad idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is slowly gathering momentum internationally. The online magazine Evonomics argues that instead of the proposed Trump tax cuts – every US citizen should receive a grant of $2600 (same cost) – to introduce the UBI concept. The Independent carried a piece about a possible UBI pilot in Fife; part of the Fife discussions is Scotland’s new UBI network which launched in Glasgow last Saturday. For many reasons, insecurity of employment is accelerating everywhere; this will gradually force economies to adopt some form of UBI – it’s only a matter of when.
"A national discussion about how to care for and support the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our communities is unquestionably required, I would suggest that this conversation begins with local authorities and national organisations showing more appreciation and humility in their relationship with the local organisations that represent true community engagement and empowerment." Read this short stirring letter, published in TFN, from Niall McShannon of Clydesdale Community Initiative.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: With Kids, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Tannahill Centre, Baldy Bane Theatre Company, Place 2 Be, TSI Moray, Port Edgar Watersports CIC
EVENTS: Portobello Market at Christmas, 03 Dec; Out of the Blue Xmas Arts Market + Open Studios. 03 Dec; New Rights, New Resources and Revenues, 07 Dec; Community Carol Concert, 07 Dec;
TENDERS: Delivery of Edinburgh’s Christmas and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, Edinburgh Wellbeing Public Social Partnership – The City of Edinburgh Council, Allan Community Centre Upgrade – Stirling Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: The theme in our Conference last week, ‘Keep it Local – Strength in numbers’ was about how community-based social enterprises can play a greater role in delivering local services. Participatory Budgeting (PB) is one particularly creative measure that can support this objective. PB is all about ‘community led commissioning’ – and with communities having a direct say during commissioning processes, then money is more likely to go (and stay) locally. PB Partners have received funding from Scottish Govt to run 10 masterclasses on PB – and Senscot is in discussion about co-hosting one of these masterclasses (for SENs/SEN members) early in 2017. So far, 16 communities and 12 Councils have accessed the Govt’s Community Choices Fund to support PB at a local level. More on this event soon.


The SE Voluntary Code of Practice is in its 4th year and, now, has around 900 subscribers. The Code Steering Group meets twice a year to review the current criteria and consider any additional issues that may be relevant. At its earlier meeting this year, some new FAQs were agreed. It met again this week to a) review membership of Steering Group – including welcoming new members, Derek Marshall (DSEN) and Elizabeth McKenna (GSEN); b) review of criteria and issues that have arisen this year; and c) consider the Code in relation to the up-and-coming SE Strategy and its ongoing role for the sector in Scotland. Two agreed actions were an update of the FAQs and a collective response to the Strategy on its publication later this month.


November edition of the SCRT bulletin is out this week – with stories that cover: Scottish Govt’s imminent SE Strategy and social investment; cuts in local authority funding to the third sector; Big Society Capital; CDFIs; and a piece on ‘profit with purpose’ businesses. SCRT is currently exploring three specific community re-investment models – operational nationally; regionally; and thematically. Watch this space.


Attendees at last week’s ‘Keep it Local – Strength in numbers’ Conference heard the impressive story of Healthy’n’Happy – the community development trust for Cambuslang and Rutherglen – and the impressive range of services being provided within a community with high levels of deprivation. However, on the local front, Healthy’n’Happy currently has a fight on its hands – with news that the Council is proposing funding cuts that could see their work being decimated – a familiar story also emerging in other parts of the country. Incredibly, one of the reasons given is that, like any well-run enterprise, it has managed to build up some reserves over the years. Here’s their response to South Lanarkshire Council and the Council’s answer.


This week’s bulletin profiles a Leith-based venture aiming to encourage and support people and organisations in Leith to grow food, vegetables and flowers for bees in order to improve health and well-being, community cohesion and the environment. Since it started out Leith Community Crops in Pots (L-CCIP) has now been given a two-acre site in Leith to manage as a community growing space; set up a trading arm (Honeycomb Leith); and got its café (the Hingabootery) up and running. Together, L-CCIP empowers and enables people to eat environmentally friendly and healthy food; inspires community engagement, looks to combat inequality and channels its profits into further local green initiatives.


This quote from Fidel Castro must be from a memorial address for one of his companeros – perhaps Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara?


“I will not speak of him as if he were absent, he has not been and he will never be. These are not mere words of consolation. Only those of us who feel it truly and permanently in the depths of our souls can comprehend this. Physical life is ephemeral; it passes inexorably… This truth should be taught to every human being — that the immortal values of the spirit are above physical life. What sense does life have without these values? What then is it to live? Those who understand this and generously sacrifice their physical life for the sake of good and justice – how can they die?” 
That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,