Senscot Bulletin: 03.02.17

Dear members and friends,
Newton, the nearest village to my cottage, has one shop – commercially fragile but vital to village life; it is also the nearest shop to the ‘House of the Binns’ where Tam Dalyell lived. Saturday morning I’m behind the
main display stand, pretending to explore the shelves, but I’m really listening to the conversation at the counter – four local worthies exchanging cherished stories about ‘Mr and Mrs Dalyell’; the village consensus is overwhelmingly positive. Alex, a retired joiner (my age) and a member of the local Labour Party is saying how he once asked his MP why he hadn’t followed a career in the army like his ancestors – to which Tam replied: “There was an incident with a tank in the desert.” I’d like to know that story.
            During the twelve years I’ve lived here, I occasionally caught glimpses of Tam in the village shop – an amiable bear of a man without any pretensions; small talk didn’t flow, but he had the gift of instant rapport – of ‘shared humanity’. It would have been difficult not to like him. The MP for West Lothian was a player on the ‘macro’ stage for 43 years – and this week saw fitting media tributes to an honest, maverick politician. But the ‘micro’ level also matters – and perhaps, how we behave where we live, says more about us than our public persona. According to the people in the village shop where he bought his milk and papers – Tam Dalyell was regarded not only with respect but also affection and warmth – and I think that matters.


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Theresa May’s leap to be Donald Trump’s first visitor showed very poor judgement – could be her undoing; the UK doesn’t want that nutter on a state visit. She has also chosen to play to the ‘border control’ obsessives on the Tory right and UKIP – in the knowledge that this means a direct collision with a Scotland, without these factions (the Scots are a mongrel race – more relaxed about immigration). May has calculated that, whatever happens, a majority of Scots will opt to stay in the UK; this may or may not be true – but if they are so confident – why did Michael Fallon say that they would block a referendum. Increasingly Nicola Sturgeon is pushed towards asking the question.


Kevin McKenna’s Observer column this week painfully spells out the factors embedded in Scottish society which enable the ‘better off’ to perpetuate and ride the educational attainment gap; is it not shameful that for thousands of bright Scottish children, university will never be a realistic option. Kevin Bloomer, a Scottish educationalist, has pointed to successful schemes in America where poorer children attend school for more hours and take less summer holidays; in other words – get more teacher hours.


Saturday saw a demonstration by the citizens of Barcelona against tourism – which they say is driving them out of the city (rising rents). The Edinburgh where I grew up is also disappearing – hotels and holiday lets everywhere – whole districts given over to visitors in the manner of Venice or Florence; don’t laugh – it’s happening. South Queensferry, my nearest High St, is now reduced to selling overpriced ice cream cones to the passengers of cruise liners. Are we content with Scotland as a tourist economy?


Within the last year there has been an extraordinary rise of interest in the concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) – with articles appearing almost weekly (we promise not to link to them all).  Professor Guy Standing, a UK leading light on this theme, here presents UBI as a weapon against the rising far right. This week, Jeane Freeman, Social Security Minister in the Scottish Govt. told the BBC that she was interested in exploring whether UBI could become effective against poverty and inequality; she’s watching pilot schemes in other countries but emphasised that much evaluation was still required.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Disabled Persons Housing Service, The New Tannahill Centre Ltd, Firstport, The Larder Cook School, Pilton Community Health Project, Daisy Drop In
EVENTS: Aberfoyle Trail Race 2017, 18 Feb; Leading Growth for Aspiring Leaders, 23 Feb; Social Enterprise: Start-up Awareness, 01 Mar;
TENDERS: Framework Agreement for Provision of Care at Home Services – Perth & Kinross Council, Challenge Fund – Childcare – Grant Opportunity – Stirling Council, Employability Pipeline Strategic Intervention – Dumfries and Galloway Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Yesterday, Scottish Govt announced that £96m worth ofcontracts will go out to tender to deliver a full programme of employment services from 2018 – to deliver employment support across Scotland. Particularly encouraging is that one of the contracts is to be reserved for a supported business. Pauline Graham (Social Firms Scotland) provides some helpful background. This comes at a time where we are seeing more and more social enterprises in the field of employability looking to work in collaboration with others. Social Firms Scotland and Senscot have been actively supporting this work via the Employability SEN over the last couple of years, see details.


Reminder: Closing date for applications for the position of Research and Communications Officer with Senscot is one week away – next Friday, 10th February. If you’re interested, see link to application pack.


In the year ahead, Senscot, in partnership with others, hopes to continue its work supporting community and social enterprises to form consortia – both to secure contracts as well as ensuring local services can be delivered locally and more effectively. One of the best examples of what can be achieved is the CRNS Re-Use Consortium. Established earlier last year, the Consortium is now bearing fruit with a high level of interest from a number of local authorities. Last week, this article in The National highlighted the benefits the CRNS Consortium can bring to local communities.


Many of us believe that the Scottish Parliament would be improved by a second chamber to review proposed legislation – but certainly not like the House of Lords. I love the idea that the chamber could be composed of 73 randomly selected citizens, balanced by gender and age. On Monday, 20th March (3-4.30pm), Oliver Escobar of Edinburgh Yooni will host a discussion called ‘Is it time for a Citizens’ Assembly in the Scottish Parliament?’ See panel and venue details.


The Social Enterprise Exchange takes place on Tuesday, 21st March at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh. To book – see link above). Cost for SES members – £75 + VAT; All other SE delegates – £100 + VAT


January’s edition of the SCRT Bulletin is now available – including articles and comment on, amongst others, Credit Unions in Scotland; the closure of ASB; the recent SE Strategy; and other issues pertinent to social investment. SCRT expects to have more development news in the new financial year.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise based in Pollokshaws West Railway Station in Glasgow – South West Community Cycles (SWCC). SWCC has developed over the years in to a thriving community hub and, more recently, has developed its own Cycle Resource Centre. SWCC promotes cycling across the local community through a range of cycling services that include: cycle rental; bike maintenance and repair; secure park and ride facilities; cycle tuition; commuter confidence building; play on pedals; as well as a mobile ‘Dr. Bikes’ service, at a convenient location for those who do not currently have access to such equipment and services.


For many years I avoided use of the word ‘soul’ – probably because of Christian ‘immortal’ connotations; but there is no better word for our core spiritual (incorporeal) essence. This is Parker Palmer – an American Quaker writer – on the ‘force field’ between connecting souls.


“Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources; our gift of self in the form of personal presence and attention, invites the other’s soul to show up. As poet Mary Oliver has written, ‘This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness’."


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