Senscot Bulletin: 04.10.19

Dear members and friends,

Before an appointment at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital, I’m sitting in the café area, rejoicing again in our universal healthcare.  My hearing-aid collects too much unwanted background noise – the ‘clang’ of falling cutlery – snippets of nearby conversations; two older ‘posh’ ladies are discussing how easy it is to recognise ‘poor people’ in public: “You can tell immediately – they’re not like us”.  I expect to get angry – but their comment is inoffensive – there’s an honest recognition of what ‘destitution’ might do to anyone of us.  “Poor people can die twenty years early – why wouldn’t the causes be marked on them”.

From 2013, Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital’ advanced our understanding of inequality – the causes and devastating effects of the ever-widening gap.  His second book Capital and Ideology’, reminds us that inequality is not inevitable – but a choice that societies opt for; Piketty believes that our only hope of survival is to radically redistribute resources; we can enjoy ‘moderate’ wealth during our life – but it must be regarded as ‘temporary’ and limited; he proposes wealth taxes up to 90%.  When his ideas surfaced in 2013, they got little cred – but Jeremy Corbyn’s pitch to the UK electorate – Democrat Elizabeth Warren’s pitch in the USA – both propose very high wealth tax.  Times are-a-changin’.

Driving home from the Western General, I reflect on my conversation with the ENT consultant; how I ‘consciously’ used some ‘middle-class’ words.  This was probably to establish my social standing – to disassociate from the poor – those not like us.


If I can summarise: it is very unlikely that this Government will secure a ‘deal’ from Europe; it is very likely that this parliament will secure an ‘extension’; so a general election will decide the immediate future of the UK -which is fitting and just. Previously, it was unthinkable, that anyone left of Gordon Brown, or right of David Cameron, could be elected. This time our electorate will choose between two very different political options: Scandinavian social democracy, close to Europe – free market capitalism – close to the USA. The danger? That our people are becoming too divided – too angry to find a workable compromise. We all need to start building bridges.  Just how radical were Labour’s conference pledges.


In his new book – high among Thomas Piketty’s ‘redistributionist’ priorities is ‘educational justice’ – essentially, spending the same amount on each person’s education.  After the Labour Party’s conference pledge to scrap private schools – this Guardian piece is about the envied Finnish education system; does it offer a template – or is it more complicated than that?


I don’t follow the shenanigans of international athletics – but watching the world championships in that empty Qatari stadium, told the world that something very serious had gone wrong.  Norway star, Karsten Warholm, thinks that the treatment of migrant construction workers, deserved a games boycott.  Journalists hint heavily at bribery and corruption – president Sebastian Coe gets mentioned.


I’m the grandson of economic migrants – peasant farmers who moved from the mountains south of Rome to Scotland.  Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has emerged as a champion of refugees and migrants – symbolising everyone on the margins of the human family.  On Sunday, Francis unveiled an impressive monument (see photo) to migrants in St Peters Square, Rome.


This quote is from Anand Giridharadas’ book – Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

“The top 10 percent of humanity have come to hold 90 percent of the planet’s wealth. It is no wonder that the American voting public—like other publics around the world—has turned more resentful and suspicious in recent years, embracing populist movements on the left and right, bringing socialism and nationalism into the center of political life in a way that once seemed unthinkable, and succumbing to all manner of conspiracy theory and fake news.”

Giridharadas was interviewed this week on The Daily Show in the US. See two-minute video.

One of the most striking features of the 2019 SE Census – and previous ones – is the high percentage of social enterprises in rural areas. 33% of SEs in Scotland operate in rural areas which only account for 17% of our population. The evidence shows that rural SEs are more densely clustered and focus on solutions to unique rural challenges – that include community centres/halls; early learning/ childcare; property; energy; utilities; and land. InspirAlba, supported by a Scottish Govt grant, is now establishing the Rural Social Enterprise Hub – that will be a focal point for research and development activity on SE in the rural context and look to create opportunities for collaboration, peer to peer learning and knowledge exchange. Learning from the rural experience, the SE Hub will seek to inform policy and better understand opportunities to use digital tools to connect rural social enterprises. They are inviting as many rural SEs as possible to complete this short survey to help them assess what will bring most benefit to rural social enterprises.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.

Confirmed speakers for our Conference in November include Cabinet Secretary, Aileen Campbell as well as Neil McInroy (CLES) and Joe Cullinane (North Ayrshire Council) – both exploring our theme of  ‘Building Community Wealth and Wellbeing – the Role for Social and Community Enterprise’. See Draft Programme, to date. Around 50% of places taken up already so, to avoid missing out, see registration form.


A new ‘social business hub’ is emerging in Edinburgh. Montgomery Street Lane, just off Leith Walk, officially launches today (4th October) – and will be home to several of Scotland’s leading social business organisations – including Challenges, Firstport, ProjectScotland, Volunteering Matters, Unltd, Social Enterprise Academy and Conservation Capital. To follow their progress, see Montgomery St Lane.


Senscot pays tribute to Citizens Advice Scotland, celebrating 80 years of service to our communities ( five-minute video). No other national, frontline agency can compare with CAB’s record and reputation – for quality and values.


Further dates have now been agreed for our series of local consultation events for SEN members and frontline SEs. These events are set up to help shape and inform the next SE Action Plan: Sanquhar – 23rd Oct;  Edinburgh – 24th Oct ; Castle Douglas – 1st Nov: Inverness – 13th Nov. See emerging themes.


Frontline News: Media Co-op is running a mobile journalism training course for SEs in November. Discover Your Mojo aims to help SEs create quality content and videos for social media using your phone:

Social enterprises’ experiences with public procurement processes are varied. Glasgow Caley is currently researching the experience of social enterprises providing social care services. See short survey:

Glasgow SEN launches its Social Enterprise in Glasgow 2019 Report – on 31st October. The Report provides a comprehensive insight into the SE landscape and its economic impact in the city. See full details.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in South Ayrshire that offers accessible community transport with the aim of combating all forms of social isolation. South Ayrshire Community Transport (SACT), set up in 2015, enables the elderly, disabled people, young people and those on a low-income better access to supermarkets, health and social care, leisure facilities as well as connections to onward public transport options. SACT also runs a three day per week scheduled bus service between the village of Barr and Girvan – Barr having been without a public transport service for over 10 years. SACT also works with local schools, community groups, church groups, the Health & Social Care partnership and South Ayrshire Council.