Senscot Bulletin: 04.09.15

Dear members and friends,
Many tributes circulate to Oliver Sacks, the eminent neurologist and writer, who died on Sunday aged 82; his books – bridging science and the human spirit – offer insight, for ordinary lay people, into the mysteries of the brain. Sacks strongly believed a ‘feeling for stories’ to be a universal human trait; that each of us imagines the unique narrative which shapes and defines our lives.


            My own take on this is that there are two stories – external and internal. The external/social narrative would typically be sketched in an obituary: education, achievements, honours, key relationships etc. But there is another internal story – impossible to shape into a coherent narrative – because it can never be known: the private fears/hopes – loves/hates – virtues/sins – which many of us conceal, even from ourselves. In his recent autobiography, On the Move, Sachs glides, with remarkable honesty, between his internal and external worlds.


            At the beginning of this year – on learning he had terminal cancer – Sacks posted a moving announcement in the New York Times. This is how it ended: “I cannot pretend I am without fear, but my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and travelled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”


I agree with our First Minister – that it’s only the people of Scotland who will determine the timing of the indy ref 2 – when there is a clear ‘yes’ majority in the polls. This is not going to happen tomorrow – momentum will build slowly from the drip, drip frustration of London rule – issues like Scottish public broadcasting. As the main BBC Charter comes up for renewal – the crumbs tossed to the Scotland branch office come into focus; from a Scottish licence fee income of £300 million – this article estimates the budget for Scottish programmes at £35 million. A properly funded, devolved, public broadcasting package has the potential to transform the cultural life of Scotland – an exciting blueprint exists to achieve this – which is now being suppressed by London executives defending their fiefdoms.


In an age which has seen Scottish companies lose the ability to make things – and jobs that can’t pay a living wage – I take great heart from what Jim McColl is doing at Ferguson Marine. He has a five year vision to transform the yard into a state of the art shipping hub with over a thousand workers; this is a man who tends to do what he says. There is great pride in the prospect that Scotland could once again boast a world class shipyard.


The world refugee situation shows no sign of calming – and the UK needs to realise that ‘we don’t want to know’ is not a policy; Germany leads Europe’s response – shames Britain’s determined indifference. It is not the Scottish way to ignore human suffering – and thankfully our First Minister has now gone public to that effect. Many will view this crisis as an examination of David Cameron and his Party’s moral compass – a test which they failed miserably. Here’s yesterday’s Guardian editorial.


Number of #SyrianRefugees taken by nation: Turkey 1.94m Lebanon 1.83m Jordan 630k Iraq 226k Egypt 142k Germany 105k Sweden 42K UK 216

— PositiveAction (@PositiveActionH) September 3, 2015




The launch last Saturday of RISE brings a new ‘player’ to Scottish politics – and the potential, after May, of voices in our parliament on the left of the SNP. RISE is still ‘work in progress’ – and many of us will watch what concrete range of polices emerges; what public support they attract. One of the advantages of the AMS electoral system used in Holyrood is that it allows us to support two different parties – in the constituency and in the regional list. James McEnaney comments in Bella Caledonia.


Paul Mason’s ‘Postcapitalism’ still attracts attention – Bella Caledonia grabbed him for an interview at the Book Festival. His book speaks of how corporations hoarding information – will come to be replaced by networks sharing it freely (Senscot style) – creating a shared value. Underlying this new collaborative economy are a handful of very strong general trends – that are challenging conventional business models in every sector. WE – economy is a Danish research project – examining how existing companies can adjust to these new collaborative trends.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Crossreach, Remade in Edinburgh, Voluntary Action Scotland, Tayport Community Trust, Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust, Glenrothes Salvation Army, Church of Scotland, Unity Enterprise
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 5 Sep; Project Management – Achieving Goals, 22 Sep; Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 24 Sep; Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 26 Sep; Senscot Ceilidh, 12th/13th Nov – Draft Programme
TENDERS: Provision of Specialist Business Advice, Support & Training 2015-2018 – Business Gateway Fife, Provision of Cycle Infrastructure Framework – Glasgow City Council, Sustainable Processing of Dry Mixed Recyclates – Perth and Kinross Council. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Wednesday’s CEIS SE Policy and Practice Conference saw the launch of the SE in Scotland: Census 2015. This is a very impressive piece of work – carried out by Social Value Lab – providing an insight, for the first time, into the size and scope of the SE community in Scotland. The Census is stacked with statistics – some that will surprise people, some that won’t – and will provide a benchmark and reference point for social enterprises for the foreseeable future. Some headline figures include: over 5,000 SEs in Scotland; employs around 112,000 people; 200 new SEs being created every year; and trading income in the region of £1.15bn. Other interesting stats include: 60% are led by women; 22% are in Highlands & Islands; 36% do not describe themselves as SEs; biggest sectors are arts/culture and community amenities; and average pay differential is at a ratio of 1:2×5. In all of this, it’s worth remembering that 60% have a turnover of less that £100k; and 30%, less than £25k. Here’s the Herald’s take.


See latest EU Funds Update – including Local Authority Employability, Poverty and Social Inclusion list.
The inaugural John Pearce Memorial Lecture is being hosted by the CBS Network and Glasgow Caley University on Monday 5th October (6.15pm – 8.45pm). The event will also mark the launch of the Social Enterprise Collection (Scotland) – which includes the archive of John’s work over the decades which document and report on the growth of Community Business; Community Enterprise; Social Accounting and Social Audit practice. The Lecture itself will be delivered by Willy Roe (former chair of HIE and current chair of British Council Scotland. The event is free to attend. See details


The Scottish Community Re:Investment Trust (SCRT) will be hosting its first Conference on 19th November at the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh. This will be the first Conference of its kind in Scotland – looking at ‘Social Finance; Social Investment; Social Banking – what makes them Social?’. Here’s a glance at draft programme. Booking forms available next week


Jim Mullan – a well kent face in our SE community – heads off with his wife, Helena, for a new life in Australia this week. Jim has been a great champion and ambassador for social enterprise in Scotland over the years. We wish Jim and Helena the very best on their new adventure.


This week’s bulletin profiles Footprints Connect, an emerging social enterprise in Aberdeen, set up to develop a website and associated services to assist people in the 55+ age group to benefit from technology that could enhance their independence and well-being. The service is available to people who in and around the Aberdeen area. Membership of Footprints Connect is free with the bulk of services and benefits available to members only. Through income generation, Footprints Connect’s aim is to remain a free service to members. It will also work in collaboration with partner organisations to maximise benefits to members – including its sister organisation, Silver City Surfers.  See more


Writer/sage-the late, great Doris Lessing shared Oliver Sacks conviction that every human brain is patterned for storytelling. This is extracted from her Nobel Prize speech in 2007.

"The storyteller is deep inside every one of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is ravaged by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise. But the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us – for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative."


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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