Senscot Bulletin: 04.03.16

Dear members and friends,

In Paisley on Monday – official launch of The Experience – latest venture of the Kibble organisation. Kibble has a unique range of specialist services for at risk children –  also passionate champions of ‘genuine’ social enterprise; but what impresses me most is their values: they regard the ‘offenders’ in their care as simply children who have suffered trauma or adversity in their young lives – requiring extra support.


            Please don’t imagine that I have a romantic view of Scotland’s prison population; years spent on the mean streets of housing estates left their mark on me; but I remain convinced that much of what we regard as criminality is desperation; from poverty, addiction, mental illness, all kinds of social isolation. There are certainly people of violence who need incarceration – but half of our prison population are there for want of fairly mundane support. Finland, like Scotland, locked up too many people – but in 1970, they realised that this doesn’t reduce crime; criminal policy became part of social policy – more focus on employment and educational opportunities; their rate of imprisonment is now half of ours. If Scotland does install an improved social safety net, prison numbers will fall.


            Good chat at Monday’s launch with residential care worker – mid thirties – loves her job. She believes that children already know within themselves, the best solution to the problems they face – though this may be partly unconscious. The children at Kibble, she says, are no different; in a supportive environment, in the right relationship, this innate knowledge can surface.


Ever since the Poll Tax, politicians are very nervous about local taxation; the Council Tax is certainly flawed but no-one can think of a better mechanism; on Wednesday the SNP once again postponed the issue with a timid but acceptable temporary fix – don’t blame them – maybe next year…. Lesley Riddoch is more unforgiving. The main criticism I have with our Govt is its instinct to centralise – which is a grievous fault. This is evident in its disrespect for the autonomy of Councils and in Scotland’s missing tier of democracy at community level. No matter your opinion of the competence of local Govt. or voluntary action – subsidiarity is a human rights issue: devolve from Holyrood.


I live with a simmering resentment of anything which smacks of London dictating to Scotland – so you can imagine what the current discussion about a ‘Scottish Six’ is doing to my blood pressure.  Whoever wrote the ‘patronizing and pompous’ proposal document – leaked to the (hostile) Daily Mail – doesn’t believe that enough happens in Scotland – nor that we have anyone competent to run it without London. ‘Somebody haud me back!’ Both Kevin McKenna and Stuart Cosgrove are worth reading.


With the news that the Scottish company BrewDog has published its recipes for free – Paul Mason, in this Guardian piece, returns to his theme of PostCapitalism. I don’t pretend to understand economics – but love the idea that the basic tools of modern life could become free, shareable and collaboratively improved. Mason believes that the unstoppable spread of the internet will cause the value of information to decline to near zero – changing the dynamics of capitalism.

Recent research from Citizens UK suggests that the state subsidises big business by an estimated £11 billion a year; this extraordinary infographic reveals that every branch of ASDA costs the taxpayer £356k annually as compensation for low wages. The equivalent figure for Tesco is £139k per store; for Sainsbury – £164k; for Morrison’s – £286k. These 4 chains alone come to £956m per annum. Based on a Freedom of Information request – The Ferret website reveals that there were no prosecutions in the UK last year for failure to pay the minimum wage; in Scotland, none for 5 years.
Senscot’s annual appeal for readers to renew membership donations has now closed – raising £6,300 towards the production of this bulletin. We have reached our targets of 100 full members; 30 associate members (organisations); as well as 12 individual donors. A big thank you to everyone for their ongoing support. See members page . If you’ve donated and your name’s not on the list, please email


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Firstport, Community Enterprise, Glasgow Wood Recycling, Patient Opinion, BOLD, Victim Support Scotland, Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian, Freespace
EVENTS: Portobello Market at Spring, 5 Mar; Thought Matters, 11 Mar; Meet A Mentor for Women, 24 Mar; wee SKELFs Easter club, 4 Apr; Tips for Girls, 7 Apr; Social Capital World Forum, 9 Apr;
TENDERS: Creation of Website, Follow the Vikings Project – Shetland Amenity Trust, Adult Employability Services – Renfrewshire Council, Get Into Security 2016-17 – The Princes Trust, Construction of a new Adult Learning Disability Centre – North Ayrshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  The Employability SEN will be meeting again on 19th April in Glasgow (venue tbc). Looking to take more of a strategic view of the employability landscape, we have invited Joanne Farrow (Scottish Govt’s Employability Implementation Lead) as our main speaker.  Joanne will give an overview of how Scottish employability services might be delivered when the new powers are transferred in 2017 – as well as other insights into opportunities for social enterprises delivering employability outcomes.  We’ll confirm the full programme details in the coming weeks. Places are limited and we anticipate a high level of interest (the meeting is for Employability SEN members only). Members can book here. If you’re not a member and are interested in joining, contact Jayne at SFS or Kim at Senscot.


Diane Cameron, our SE and Sport Co-ordinator is leaving us at the end of this month. Diane moves on to take up the post of Chief Executive at the Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre, near Lochgoilhead – and a member of the Sport SEN. This is a great opportunity for Diane and we wish her the very best of luck in her new post. Diane started with Senscot almost exactly six years ago and – from a standing start – has built a Sport SEN that, today, has over 100 established and aspiring sport SEs. Over and above, Diane has become a central figure in the growing and developing area of sport and social enterprise – criss-crossing the country, building links between funders; sport governing bodies; and community-based sports organisation – as well as being a strong advocate for the emerging ‘sport for change’ agenda. She’ll be leaving big shoes to fill.


Wednesday this week saw the inaugural AGM for the Scottish Community Re:Investment Trust (SCRT). Niall Alexander, from Airdrie Savings Banks (ASB), gave a presentation on how ASB is looking to build its relationship with our sector – becoming the bank ‘for and of the third sector’. This includes a revamp of the
Anchor Savings Account; exploring the possibility of a ‘social mortgage’ for people working within the third sector in Scotland; and outlining some of the loan deals being offered by ASB. Pauline Hinchion (Director of SCRT) gave an update on the year’s activities and plans for the year ahead – including a new partnership with Supporters Direct Scotland; working with OSCR on guidance for Trustees; and proposals for a Social Investment Training Programme. SCRT also circulated their latest monthly bulletin.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Glasgow – and the city’s first alcohol free café – Café GRO. Café GRO has been set up by Glasgow Recovery Organisation – who aim to expand volunteering, training and employment opportunities for people in recovery from addictions and to work with young people affected by a parent or carers addiction, or who are potentially at risk of alcohol and substance mis-use. Café GRO opened in January – and whilst catering primarily for people in recovery and their family and friend – it also keen to welcome members of the public seeking alternative ways of socialising. Being located in the city centre – St Margret’s Place – is a conscious decision – believing that making recovery visible can act as a catalyst in breaking down negative stereotyping and stigma often associated with addiction.


Howard Zinn (1922-2010) was a radical American historian and social activist; been enjoying reading some of his quotes.

“I am convinced that imprisonment is a way of pretending to solve the problem of crime. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions–poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, greed–which are at the root of most punished crime. The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished. It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity.” 

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