Senscot Bulletin: 05.02.16

Dear members and friends,

In an essay called the Lost Childhood – Graham Greene suggests that it’s the earliest stories we encounter as children which have the most impact on us. Our imaginations awaken to the promise of a world of great simplicity – in which we know all the rules. We learn, for instance, that no matter how desperate things are – a hero will arrive, brave and true, to defeat the bad guys. Some believe that humankind carries a ‘collective memory’ of this hero myth – that children are born with it.
            I’ve known my fair share of real life heroes – but have also drawn inspiration from fiction – most consistently from Philip Marlowe; Raymond Chandler’s hard boiled but philosophical investigator has been a lifelong friend. Recently, I got the notion that I’d like to own a first edition (1939) of the Big Sleep – as a kind of tribute. I posted online that I would pay up to £200; responses informed that the going rate for such is between six and fourteen thousand pounds. Wow!
            Evoking mid-century California, Chandler’s novels are beautifully written – but it’s the character of Marlowe which draws me back. Our struggle with the forces of darkness is ancient and eternal – Marlowe is a valiant warrior of light in a world of great simplicity; like our childhood heroes – no-one will ever beat him. Chandler wrote of Marlowe: “Down these mean streets a man must go who himself is not mean – who is not himself tarnished nor afraid”. Please tell me that one again, Mummy.


It has long been the vision of utopian thinkers that technology will gradually render work unnecessary – releasing us all to live more creatively.  While it’s true that technology is replacing workers – the benefits are not being shared; our world is in the grip of an economic system which favours wealth accumulation by a tiny controlling elite; who live comfortably alongside obscene inequality.  Although our society faces in the opposite direction – I find myself warming to the concept of a unconditional citizens income – been researching the idea.  The sum paid to everyone would not itself be intended to fund a comfortable life – rather would be the basis of a just society – where every citizen by right has the basics of a dignified life.  This Scottish Greens briefing note is a good primer; more in future weeks.


Each year, Senscot invites financial donations from readers – to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin.  Traditionally, around 100 folk give an average of £25 to become full company members. We also invite donations from individuals or organisations who simply want to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or to donate – see members page  – around 60 folk have signed so far. If you’ve donated and your name’s not on the list, please email


Interesting article from the USA about the evolving philanthropy industry over there – massive sums of money – but questionable public benefit. Impact investors, seeking financial, alongside social returns, can displace funds going to real charities. The Gates Foundation (the biggest) has assets of 42 billion dollars – some of it invested in companies which perpetuate world problems. Its Giving Pledge has been signed by 137 billionaires and increasingly the rich elite are influencing international development policy; this raises issues of democracy; public transparency; oversight etc.


Free society is protected by strong independent media; the Herald’s apparent failure to support their journalist, Graham Spiers, in his dispute with Rangers FC is worrying. It’s unfortunate that a football team is involved – because it raises emotions which distract from the central issue: that editorial integrity can be compromised by corporate clout. The continuous decline of Scotland’s print media should concern us all.

John Swinney is locked in important talks with the treasury about Scotland’s fiscal framework – who will blink first?  During those decades we were ruled by a ‘branch office’ of the Labour Party – there was always the suspicion that Scottish interests were being compromised to London’s needs.  I find it helpful that our SNP Govt. has no such ambivalence. 


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Young Scot, North Glasgow Housing Association, The Pitstop, Kilmartin Museum, Highland Wholefoods Workers Co-operative, Social Investment Scotland, Dig-In Bruntsfield Community Greengrocer
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 6 Feb; 9 Feb; Meet A Mentor for Women, 26 Feb; Dumfries Community Shares Training, 3 Mar; Tips For Girls Special w Margaret Montgomery, 3 Mar; Thought Matters, 11 Mar;
TENDERS: Website Tender – Glasgow City Heritage Centre, Tender for heritage DVD production – Newbattle Abbey College, Alcohol and Drug Recovery Hub – Glasgow City Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Senscot and Social Enterprise Scotland (SES) will be attending the Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS) Social Enterprise Forum at The Melting Pot next Thursday (11th Feb). The session is aimed at staff from Third Sector Interfaces and will focus on TSI social enterprise support in the future and what this should ‘look like’. Senscot and SES will share information and findings from Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015 and Scotland’s Vision for Social Enterprise 2025The Social Enterprise Academy will also attend to discuss a follow up Social Enterprise and TSI Learning Programme.


Social Investment Scotland, this week, launched its new Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy  – in partnership with ASDA. This new initiative, funded through ASDA’s carrier bag charges, is the first of its kind in the UK and will see 8 Scottish-based SEs benefit from grant funding and an extensive programme of support to get their products on the shelves of one of the UK’s leading supermarkets. Closing date for applications is Monday 14th March 2016.


On to another Academy, the SE Academy. Since it was set up in 2004, over 10,000 folk have participated in their programmes in Scotland – 117 programmes being run last year. They have also, over the years, established ‘hubs’ further afield – in South Africa and Australia. Now, with funding/investment from Scottish Govt; HIE; SIS; and Big Issue Invest, they are looking to establish 20/30 ‘hubs’ across the globe over the next five years. Already there has been interest from China, Pakistan, India and Malaysia. Using the social franchising, they plan not just to increase their financial resilience – but also to share the ‘Scottish Model’ internationally.


Senscot will be holding its 16th AGM on Friday 4th March at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh (10.30 – 1.30pm). Prior to the AGM, we will be hosting a discussion session looking at “the implications – challenges, opportunities and risks – for social enterprise and the third sector in playing an increasing role in public service delivery”. Our keynote speaker on the day will be Barry Knight from Centris – the Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Policy Ltd. Barry has, in the past, worked as an advisor to UK Govts on economic development and the third sector. To book your place – see Booking Form


Desk space available: Senscot moved into new premises in Walker St in Edinburgh’s West End in September. We share the space with the Scottish Community Alliance; Community Transport Association; Equal Futures; and SCRT. We now have one desk space (possibly two) available for an individual/organisation – sharing in a room with others. If interested, email.


This week’s bulletin profiles a newly established social enterprise, based in Edinburgh, whose services focus on workplace wellbeing. MHScot (Mental Health Scotland) offer several comprehensive, tailor made training packages, workshops and bespoke services designed to offer solutions to problems that affect staff morale, performance and well-being. Members of both the Edinburgh and Health SENs, MHScot is already proving services to a range of employers that include Aegon; Barony Housing; Heriot Watt University; Balfour Beatty; and The Alliance amongst others. They also use the hashtag #mhscot to discuss mental health issues in Scotland on twitter


This is the opening sentence of Graham Greene’s essay, the Lost Childhood:


            “Perhaps it is only in childhood that books have any deep influence on our lives. In later life we admire, we are entertained, we may modify some views we already hold, but we are more likely to find in books merely a confirmation of what it is in our minds already; as in a love affair it is our own features that we see reflected flatteringly back."


He ends it with this verse from the poem Germinal by AE (pseudonym for George William Russell).


"In ancient shadows and twilights where childhood had strayed,
 The world’s great sorrows were born and its heroes were made.
 In the lost boyhood of Judas – Christ was betrayed."



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