Senscot Bulletin 05.06.15

Dear members and friends,


            A still photograph, particularly black and white, can capture – better than words – the very essence of a situation.  A few memorable ‘stills’ – from our private lives or the wider world – can come to define, our particular journey.  One of my dozen defining images is ‘the Castlemilk Lads’ – captured in 1963 by photographer, the late Oscar Mazaroli.  When I saw this picture in 1972 it blew me away; some powerful unconscious identification I didn’t understand – but knew I wanted to; then the need to know what happened to these lads.
            The reputation of Mazaroli’s picture grew steadily over the years.  In 2012, the journalist Peter Ross identified and traced the Castlemilk lads (all in their 60s); brought them to a Castlemilk reunion, with members of Mazaroli’s family.  In his article, Ross sketches each of their lives: marriages, children, grandchildren, careers, health worries etc; a compelling piece of journalism – about real people – connected by a remarkable snapshot – 50 years ago.
            Even after all of this time – the photograph has lost none of its impact on me.  I see toughness and aggression – alongside an almost plaintive vulnerability.  I feel the bond between these boys – so strong in lads that age – especially from ‘the schemes’.  In the article, Mazaroli’s daughter, Marie Claire, tells how she has lived for years with this picture on her living room wall; for her, it speaks of courage and pride and sticking together through adversity: “an important picture for us as a family – it gives me strength every day.”


The truly sad death this week of Charles Kennedy at the age of 55 – has been met with a remarkable deluge of warm tributes.  Along with his considerable gifts and political achievements – it seems to have been his qualities as a human being which won widespread respect and affection.  Independent minded – somewhat underwhelmed by the political circus –’ he spoke fluent human’ – an exceptional communicator with ordinary people. All the tributes to Kennedy acknowledge that his life was diminished by his inability to stop drinking. The great majority of people won’t encounter alcoholism in their lives – and may be mystified by the power this illness can exert over people of intelligence and sound judgement – the baffling human impulse to self-destruct. His friend, Alastair Campbell’s moving personal tribute.


In formally recognising ‘charitable status’ – UK law privileges certain organisations for fiscal benefits – including grants, tax benefits etc.  To sustain public confidence – the governance of charities is ‘regulated’ – to insure for instance, that they provide genuine public benefit – don’t operate for private gain etc.  Many of us believe that the charitable sector is about fostering a fairer, more equitable society’ and that fee paying schools are not part of this– as they perpetuate the power of a privileged elite.  SCVO has called for the charitable status of such schools to be reviewed.


It is difficult to know what appetite the Scottish govt. – and indeed the Scottish people – have for truly progressive policies – towards a more equal society.  Some commentators enjoy telling us that the reputation of the Scots – as more social democratic than the English – is a myth.  In Sunday’s Herald, Andy Wightman, the land reform campaigner, writes a brief but hopeful comment piece: like myself he believes that Scotland is now alive with ambition to build a fairer and more equal society – and he believes that forthcoming land reform legislation matches this mood.  


Piece in the Glasgow Evening Times this week about the ongoing shortage of emergency accommodation in the city – for people with nowhere to sleep. Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to make emergency accommodation available – but since the closure of the big hostels in 2013, Glasgow has never got to grips with this problem. Is the solution really beyond our ingenuity – or is there a bit of ‘it’s their own fault’ in our response to the destitute?


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Glasgow Bike Station, Faith in the Community, Scottish Green Party, DSL Business Finance, New Caledonian Woodlands
EVENTS: Wild Food Forage, 7 Jun; B Corp for Lunch Edinburgh, 9 Jun; "Bill W and Dr Bob", 14 Jun; Citizen Wellbeing Assembly Scotland, 25 Jun; Nesta Spotlight on Crowdfunding, 20 Oct;
TENDERS: Early Learning and Childcare Services for 2 Year Old Children – North Lanarkshire Council, Fresh Bakery Products – APUC Limited, 2 Year Old Early Learning and Childcare 2015/2016 – Moray Council and more.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Yesterday, Dundee SEN (DSEN) hosted a ‘stakeholder’ event for a range of organisations and individuals in the city to explore how SE can play an increasing role in shaping the way that health and social care services are planned and delivered within Dundee itself – including integration, SDS and social prescribing. Over 40 delegates attended the event – which will be followed up with a study visit to Healthy Options in Argyll and Bute by members of Dundee SEN. This is part of Senscot’s Health and Social Care Transition Project . It is hoped that this ‘pilot’ can encourage a more collaborative approach between local social enterprises; Third Sector Interfaces; and statutory bodies that can lead to better understanding of what they can respectively contribute and, in turn, to a more joined up approach to the delivery of local services. To find out more, contact Mary.


Good piece in the Guardian about the strike last week of council workers in Barnet; this links directly to the whole issue of outsourcing – the determination of some Tory councils to cut the number of directly delivered services.  Whilst I can sometimes be critical of local govt. officialdom – I would far rather be dealing with democratically accountable public servants – than Capita/Serco etc on 10 year contracts.


The Social Enterprise Summit takes place next week (10th/11th June) at the Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness. The two day event is just about sold out – 200 delegates – and bookings will be closing today (5th June) at 2pm.
Event will start with John Swinney giving Govt’s initial response to SE Vision 2025 document and laying out some of its strategic priorities. To book you place, see here.


It was announced this week that Nick O’Donohoe, CEO of Big Society Capital, is to step down; been reflecting on the whole sorry episode of the UKs ‘social investment bank’.  It started with political reverence for bankers (probably Gordon Brown); then the adoption of Ronald Cohen’s grandiose delusion – of social investment as a new ‘asset class’ for the money markets; what a blunder.  BSC brought nothing to the third sector – not a thing.  Safe, expensive lending was always available to us; where the need is – the small risky seedcorn investment, to enable innovation – is no nearer!  After many wasted years – perhaps the next CEO will at least understand what’s required. 


The Community Interest Company (CIC) legal form was introduced 10 years ago. The model was introduced by the Labour Government in 2005 with social enterprises specifically in mind. Today, there are approximately 10,000 CICs across the UK – and around 500 in Scotland – with almost 75% being limited by guarantee as opposed to paying out dividends. In numbers alone, the CIC model would seem a success. For some, the model is seen as a simple and flexible option that is not heavily regulated. However, for others, it is often cited as vehicle that allows people to ‘hide behind the veneer of social/community benefit without the accountability of charities’ or as a convenient model for those social entrepreneurs reluctant to relinquish control of ‘their’ enterprise to a Board of Trustees. Here are some observations from down south.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise, based near Beauly in the Highlands, which is working with teachers and young people to explore the natural and cultural heritage of shieling life and its significance today. The Shieling Project, set up as a CIC, aims to bring the shieling back to life for young people and teachers – learning how to milk, cut peats, weave, dye and re-build shieling huts – and explore the rich cultural heritage of story, song, poem and place-name around the shieling. The Shieling Project currently offers day trips for schools, and weekend workshops for teachers – and are currently fundraising to develop their capacity for week-long residentials and summer camps.


On the recommendation of colleagues, I’m reading a book by Frederic Laloux called – ‘Reinventing Organisations: A Guide to Creating Organisations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness’. I can already tell that this is an important book – which has its own website. This from a review:

"In this ground-breaking book, the author shows that every time humanity has shifted to a new stage of consciousness in the past, it has invented a whole new way to structure and run organisations, each time bringing extraordinary breakthroughs in collaboration. A new shift in consciousness is currently underway. Could it help us invent a radically more soulful and purposeful way to run our businesses and non-profits, schools and hospitals? The pioneering organisations researched for this book have already ‘cracked the code’. Their founders have fundamentally questioned every aspect of management and have come up with entirely new organisational methods.  It’s hard not to get excited by the fact that a new organisational model seems to be emerging, and it promises a soulful revolution in the workplace." 


Here’s a Q&A session with the author.



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