Senscot Bulletin: 03.07.15

Dear members and friends,

            There are meetings I attend where people consider it perfectly acceptable to fire-up laptops and iPhones – then divide their attention.  My personal reaction to this is irritation – because it detracts from the quality of discussion – and is discourteous to those who switch off their devices.  This practice is an unfortunate sign of our times: digital connectivity becoming increasingly intrusive.


            According to official stats – three quarters of the world population now has a mobile phone; saw an African on TV last week who travels 30kms to his nearest charge point.  This global saturation confirms that we humans are an overwhelmingly social species – who rejoice in talking to each other – which has to be a good thing.  But it is impossible to observe some people’s relationship with their mobile – without the word ‘addiction’ coming to mind; their sudden joy when it rings is like ‘a fix’.


            I am in no doubt that the internet is a major boost to human progress – I can’t imagine what we did before search engines and email – but some people seem to get hooked and overdo it.  What concerns educationists and brain scientists is that young people may imagine that digital contact can substitute for actually being with people; a different experience entirely.  So I’m hoping that bringing electronic devices to meetings will come to be frowned upon.  People arrange meetings for a variety of reasons – and it’s the attention we afford each other which enables progress; staring into screens has no part to play – disrespectful.
On Sunday – the people of Greece will decide, by referendum, whether to remain in the Eurozone – or to return to the Drachma and monetary sovereignty. Nobel laureate, economist Joseph Stiglitz has written a short comment piece – sketching these two options – neither of which is pleasant. He is highly critical of the “troika” – its behaviour he says is more about power and democracy than money and economics. Stiglitz believes that the treatment of Greece has been unnecessarily harsh and punitive – aimed at bringing down the elected govt. He believes that leaving the euro is the option he would choose, “better than the unconscionable torture of the present”.
In failing to address the issue of Scotland’s missing tier of democracy – in particular the future of community councils – the community empowerment bill is almost meaningless. Responding to questions from the public recently – Marco Biagi said that community councils raise wide concerns about who takes decisions and at what level. These are big issues he said – "and all I can say at this point is that they are on the radar." The bill was 5 years in the preparation – and this issue is now on the radar! Are we meant to take this seriously?
Last Friday I went to hear Jos de Blok who founded Buurtzorg – a district nursing system in the Netherlands; Jos was on a flying visit to Scotland to promote his work – and I found his talk compelling. Prior to Buurtzorg – homecare services in the Netherlands were fragmented – patients being cared for by multiple providers – many low paid and poorly skilled. Buurtzorg’s answer was to give small teams of qualified nurses – far greater control over patient care; optimal autonomy – no hierarchy. It has grown from one team of 4 nurses in 2007 – to 6500 nurses in 630 independent teams by 2013. A remarkable story
A few weeks ago we carried a piece from the Scottish Poverty Alliance which argues that surplus food is no solution to food poverty – neither effective nor socially just; that proper solutions should address this structural causes of poverty. Martin Sime, Chief Executive of SCVO, responds with a piecewhich argues that foodbanks are a symbol of spontaneous human kindness which should be encouraged not criticised –  all in the spirit of friendly debate – I hope the Poverty Alliance responds. There’s an issue here about sticking plasters’ and real change: we can do both of course.
Far from being ‘a Mugabe style land grab’ – George Monbiot has come to realise that Scotland’s land reform proposals are rather timid – particularly with regard to the designation of land for the nation as a whole. Monbiot asks why great tracts of the remote and rocky highlands can’t become a national park; no stronger or more inclusive symbol of nationhood; the gift which visionary Scot John Muir gave to North America.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Action for Children, The Law Society of Scotland, The Law Society of Scotland, Fife Elderly Forum, Glasgow East Women’s Aid, Blantyre Volunteer Ltd, Show Racism the Red Card
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 4 Jul; Aberdeen EU Funds Masterclass, 31 Jul; Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 24 Sept; Art of Participatory Leadership, 02 Oct;
TENDERS: South Lanarkshire Council – Works 4 U Framework, Administration and Management of Third Sector Funding in Early years/Early Intervention, Scottish Government Investment in Charitable Bonds 2015/16 and 2016/17 and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Friday’s EU Funding Masterclass seemed to be very well received with a lot of positive feedback – and, naturally, a series of further questions and enquiries. Over 60 folk attended. Our intention was to share some of the core information before much of the EU programmes are “open for business”. There was level of detail about the various ‘strategic packages’. We consider this important as a) this is how ESF and ERDF Programmes will be delivered; and b) potential applications will need to fit into these packages to have a chance of securing funding. Further ‘masterclasses’ will be held over the summer – with the next one taking place in Aberdeen on Friday, 31st July at Home Comforts, 9 East Terrace, Union Sq, Aberdeen (10.30 -1pm). To book your place, see here.
DTA Scotland’s Annual Conference and AGM is now open for bookings.The event will be taking place at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness on 30th/31st August – on the theme of ‘Assets, Enterprise and Creativity`.
This week, Scottish Govt announced the 250th Scottish organisation to sign up as a Living Wage employer. The drive to recruit more Living Wage employers is being led by the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative (SLWAI). There are a growing number of SEs already accredited but SLWAI is keen to get even more to sign up, particularly as they view social enterprise as a natural ally of the Living Wage movement – successful enterprises with a commitment to the respective communities. Here, David Faith (SLWAI) invites any SEs interested in signing  up to get in touch as well as those are maybe not ready to do so – to find out the barriers they face. David’s contact details are 
Here’s SCRT’s June Bulletin. Stories include a successful crowdfunding campaign in Glasgow; the lifting of restrictions on Credit Unions to allow them to offer a greater range of financial products; and also the announcement of  SCRT’s first Annual Conference – with the working title: “Social Investment; Social Banking; and Social Finance – what makes them social ?” . More soon. For more on SCRT, see here.
Back in March, The Engine Shed was forced to close its doors – after 25 years providing training for adults with learning disabilities via their bakery and café. It is great, therefore, to hear this week that the story does not end there. Marian MacDonald and the Engine Shed team have moved to temporary base in Edinburgh as they prepare to re-launch the Engine Shed at alternative venue in the city. See Marian’s update.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise that, we think, will be a first in Scotland. Hostel Hub’s aim is to help regenerate communities through great hostels! Based in Perthshire, Hostel Hub provides its service across the whole UK – in areas where young people leave because there aren’t enough jobs. Hostel Hub works with charities, development trusts and local activists to bring new life to communities by starting up hostels that will attract people from all over the world. Through providing support with business plans; feasibility studies; and marketing, its goal is to create a national network of boutique hostels run by local communities. Hostel Hub is currently part of Firstport’s Launch Me programme.
Raymond Chandler’s creation – the detective, Philip Marlowe – is an enduring symbol to me of courage and integrity; battered and alone – but never defeated – he steadies me. Chandler ends his essay ‘the Simple Art of Murder’ (1944) with a 300 word sketch of his model hero: what we now call ‘noir’.


"In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption…. Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honour, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it."


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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