Senscot Bulletin: 04.11.16

Dear members and friends,
My friend lives in Biggar – my nearest town is Linlithgow – we get to comparing local amenities; but when she says that Biggar High Street has a thriving bookshop (Atkinson – Pryce), I concede defeat; we lost Linlithgow Bookshop some time ago and I feel that a town without a bookshop is somehow bereft. A major reason, of course, was the internet: Amazon allows us to browse thousands of titles – card payment – the book drops through the door; why would anyone ever bother with a bookshop?
            The answer is that bookshops are making a surprising comeback; Google says that Edinburgh alone has over 50 and rising – an increasingly mixed bunch. There are the chains – boring; then an admirable bunch of sole traders, risking all for their dream; then specialist charity bookshops; then a new emergence of community hubs focussed around recycling books and music – learning on the job. It seems that, like myself, many punters crave the ‘hands on’ encounter with books – with serendipity – searching for ‘that’ book.
            In Edinburgh’s Marchmont area this week, I pop into that extraordinary Chinese fishmonger at 7 Roseneath Street; delighted to discover that No.12 has just opened as a second-hand bookshop (Amnesty International I think). A young woman and chap are proudly stacking the shelves; I reflect how each generation produces its crop of young people for whom ‘the cause’ trumps personal gain; just chatting to them gives me a lift – the hope they convey. The Senscot network was created by and for just such people.


The NSPCC’s Childline service said this week that the past year saw a sharp rise in the number of children seeking help for anxiety – a rise of 35%; research showed an increasing number of youngsters were concerned about world affairs. Even for us adults – we live in stressful times: Brexit’s nasty racist edge; its effect on our economy; the possibility of President Donald Trump; TV film of terrified toddlers as the Russian army pounds Aleppo; relentless cuts to Scotland’s Council services; a receding indyref 2. In families which are coping, the adults will protect children from levels of anxiety which they are not equipped to handle. Childline figures this week suggest that the UK is a family failing to protect our children.


The Scottish political commentators I favour are strong social democrats – who support progressive taxation for a fairer society. In recent weeks I’ve noticed growing impatience among them with our Govt’s performance – its hesitancy. Kevin McKenna wrote a particularly ‘moany’ Observer piece this week – aimed at the SNP’s ‘reactionary core’ – its familiarity with the ‘corporate community’. I reserve judgement for now – but I’m glad someone’s watching. There’s too much populist fluff for my liking – not enough substance.


I’ve got a passion for small prefabricated dwellings – I’d like to live in one. So I was excited this week to read about the UK Govt’s plans to support the offsite construction of 100,000 modular homes – which can be erected in 48 hours. Of course this depends on the citizens having a sliver of land on which to plonk it – which opens up that other can of worms: how we Scots can reclaim out countryside from the landed gentry.


I’ve seen a couple of striking murals which have been appearing on walls around Glasgow – but seeing them together in this BBC post is very powerful.


The Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an idea which some people say has reached its time – but I don’t think it’s time has come yet. Growing inequality across the world will gradually bring social breakdown – and that’s when some kind of unconditional income – to enable people to survive – will become inevitable. Barb Jacobson, chair of UBI Europe, writes in Red Pepper how Bulgaria will lose 50% of its population by 2020 – Latvia 40%: She tells how UBI could help stabilise European migration.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Capability Scotland, Scottish Maritime Sailing Trust, Re-Union Canal Boats Ltd, Family & Community Development West Lothian, Sportscotland Board vacancies.
EVENTS: Community Learning Exchange, 07 Nov; New Rights, New Resources and Revenues, 10 Nov; Free community shares training, 15 Nov; Glasgow Soup Crowdfunding Dinner, 17 Nov;
TENDERS: Landscaping Works – NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Provision of Supported Accommodation and Tenancy Support Services – Falkirk Services, National Third Sector Funding Highlands & Islands only – Competitive Funding Offer and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: The North Ayrshire Social Enterprise Strategy was launched at an event in Irvine yesterday. The three-year strategy (2016-2019) has been developed by North Ayrshire Council (NAC), TSI North Ayrshire and other partners, setting out a strong vision for the future contribution of social enterprise in North Ayrshire and includes four key priority areas: Developing a high profile sector; Growing market share; Improving sustainability; and Demonstrating impact. The North Ayrshire SE Strategy adds to existing SE Strategies in Dundee, Edinburgh, Fife and Moray. Senscot looks forward to working with NAC and TSI North Ayrshire in the successful implementation of the strategy.


Couple of weeks till the “Keep it local; Strength in numbers” event at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh on Wed 23rd Nov. The event is being hosted by Senscot in partnership with Social Firms Scotland, Community Enterprise, the Scottish Community Alliance – and sponsored by RBS. Cabinet Sec, Angela Constance, will begin proceedings – sharing her reflections on our forthcoming SE Strategy. The thrust of the day will be how – through greater collaboration – the contribution of SEs in local communities can be strengthened. Here’s more info on the breakout sessions. A drinks reception and dinner will round off the day. A limited number of places are still available. To book, see booking form


Social entrepreneurship is too exclusively associated with economic aspirations – whereas many initiatives are more about the history and ‘soul’ of communities; there’s an excellent current example of this from the village of Strontian on Scotland’s north west coast. It’s a fascinating story about the once Sunart Floating Church – a project to lift and conserve its anchor and chain – to stand as a permanent memorial celebrating local folklore.


A few weeks ago we did a piece about the ‘Soup’ phenomenon that has been catching on in Scotland. Based on an idea that originated in Detroit, ‘Soups’ have been taking place in Edinburgh, Stirling and, next, in Inverness. Next up is Glasgow – with the first Glasgow Soup event being held at the Calton Heritage & Learning Centre on Thursday, 17th Nov from 6-9pm – organised by the Social Care Ideas Factory. The soup itself will be provided by Glasgow SEN member, the Spoon Café. The event is open to anyone looking for help for an idea that could benefit the east end of city or wanting to support local community-based projects.


Senscot received an inquiry from Scottish Govt this week about any social enterprises that tackle the issue of funeral poverty (i.e. provision of services traditionally provided by funeral directors) – or who may be interested in doing so. We know that some DTA Scotland members provide woodland burials and there are plans for a new eco-cemetery at the Ecology Centre in Fife. Any info or interest, contact


Congratulations to Sophie Unwin and the team at Remade in Edinburgh – winner of UK Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2016.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in the Dumfries area that supports adults with disabilities (primarily learning) and other conditions to achieve their own personal goals and outcomes. Buddies provides activities, support and learning opportunities for its members to help them live their lives as independently and autonomously as they are able to. Buddies work has four main themes: reinforcement of life skills (including kitchen skills, keeping fit and healthy and literacy and numeracy); making and maintaining friendships; improving confidence and encouraging independence; and autonomy.


The most famous bookshop I’m aware of was in 1920s Paris – the ‘gang hut’ of writers like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Joyce, Stein, Pound etc. Hem. wrote about it in A Movable Feast.


“In those days there was no money to buy books. I borrowed books from the rental library of Shakespeare and Company, which was the library and bookstore of Sylvia Beach at 12 rue de l’Odéon. On a cold windswept street, this was warm, cheerful place with a big stove in winter, tables and shelves of book, new books in the window, and photographs on the wall of famous writers both dead and living. Sylvia was delightful and charming and welcoming and behind her, as high as the wall and stretching out into the back room, were shelves and shelves of the wealth of the library”.


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