Senscot Bulletin: 06.03.15

Dear members and friends,


A few years ago, I had my prostate zapped by a procedure called green light laser – it was successful and I thought that was it; but apparently it’s growing back and is starting its old tricks.  I am one of the 70% of men who don’t even know what a prostate is for.  My previous urologist was a gentleman – simpatico; we discussed things – agreed his role – my role – a shared endeavour.  The new chap has a very different attitude – with no interest in anything I have to say – not even listening.  The subliminal message is that there is nothing of value I could contribute to this ‘one way’ transaction; he invests no part of his humanity.
            Some may consider that the NHS has more to worry about than the sensitivities of individual patients – with inflated ideas – but I believe that there is a substantial issue here.  Senscot’s AGM in 2009 was addressed by Edgar Cahn – an inspirational American social entrepreneur.  From his own experience of ‘feeling useless’ as a heart attack patient – Cahn realised the importance of transforming patients, from passive consumers, to active co-producers of their own outcomes.  Absolutely everyone, he says, has a contribution to make to providing services.  He called his book ‘no more throw-away people’.
            There is growing realisation that our NHS cannot endure simply as a remote provider of professionalised services.  It now needs to embrace the goodwill of civil society – and particularly the organised third sector – which has the capacity to mobilise as co-producer of community-based services. Hopeful book by Margaret Hannah. See more.


FINAL WEEK – Each year, Senscot invites financial donations from readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin.  Traditionally, around 100 individuals give an average of £25 to become full company members (now at 95). Senscot’s board is elected by and is accountable to these 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 more.


Big Society Capital (BSC) was an invention of New Labour and Tory administrations – in partnership with merchant bankers.  The ‘big idea’ was to finance third sector development with repayable investment – thereby creating a new ‘asset class’ for the money markets.  In spite of the millions spent promoting this model – it was comprehensively rejected by our sector; last year, BSC conceded that they got the market wrong –difficult to see what it’s ‘for’ now.  Last week, BSC published a list of policy priorities for the next government – presumably to stimulate third sector borrowing; some have merit – some are nonsense.  The thing to remember is that these are commercial bankers – locked into a system which requires them to extract a profit from our third sector.  Senscot is part of SCRT – which argues that we can create our own bank – keep the cost of money in the family. See more.


The average population of a Scottish Council is 165,000; the European average is 14,000.  One of the lessons of 2014 – was the potential appetite of the Scottish people for democratic participation – and yet our SNP administration has signalled no intent to reform the structures of local democracy.  Do they consider the Scots uniquely incapable of running our communities?  Nicola Sturgeon’s enthusiasm for social justice is most welcome – but she should realise that for some citizens – subsidiarity is a social justice issue.  Lesley Riddoch is a warrior for local democracy.


Last Saturday saw an important conference in Glasgow – when 200 people attended the launch of the Scottish Food Justice campaign.  When the people ‘at the sharp end’ get together – there’s always a buzz – and that was true of this gathering.  What united those present was the determination that foodbanks should NOT proliferate and take root in Scotland – because they don’t confront the causes of food poverty.  This is a ‘Beyond Foodbanks’ movement.  See more.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.  This week includes:
JOBS: Renfrew Development Trust, WorkingRite, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Church of Scotland, L’Arche Edinburgh, Venture Trust, Reeltime Music, Balerno Village Trust, RAMH
EVENTS: The Truth Hurts: Comedy Against Racism with Aamer Rahman, 8 Mar; Participatory Leadership Training, (Connecting Scotland CIC), 8 Mar; Demystifying the Web, 18 Mar; Lanarkshire’s Social Enterprise Trade Fair 2015, 20 Mar;
TENDERS: Catering Service for Glasgow Kelvin College; Proposed Skatepark at Wallsgreen Park, Cardenden; Making Cycling Mainstream – Content Development Package; Design Services Framework; Young Peoples Managed Support Service. 


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: The quarterly SEN co-ordinators and chairs meeting took place yesterday in Edinburgh. Amongst the items for discussion was the recent SE Vision 2025 document. The general feedback was positive – with a couple of caveats. Principally, this was around ensuring that whatever actions emanate from this document over the next year or so, it is vital that they genuinely filter down to a local level. Many SEN members are very conscious that whilst SE appears to be punching its weight at a national level – locally, it can remain an uphill struggle for many. Other matters raised included the relationship between SENs and TSIs; national Intermediaries; and the Social Finance sector. We will be re-visiting these issues over the coming months. For more, see SENs News


SCRT has now been operational for a couple of months and has already been engaged in quite a bit of activity. As well as launching the Anchor Savings Account in conjunction with Airdrie Savings Bank, SCRT has also hosted a ‘crowd-funding ‘masterclass’, delivered by Buzzbnk – our crowdfunding partner.  This week sees the publication of the first SCRT e-bulletin. This will be a monthly bulletin –  looking to bring some different thinking to the third sector’s approach to finance, economics, banking and social investment. This first edition includes a short feature on Equal Say Advocacy – an early depositor in the Anchor Savings Account. To receive the SCRT bulletin, subscribe here.


The footballing gladiator, Dave Mackay, died this week, aged 80. The first business I opened for myself was in 1959 – it was called Larry’s Lunchette; the shop-fitting was done by a firm called Laurence McIntosh and son; A joiner told me he’d had Dave Mackay, of the Hearts, as an apprentice. He once left Mackay to lay a floor – returned to find that it was upside down; he assured me that to lay tongue and groove flooring upside down takes unusual determination. Dave Mackay’s determination became legendary – a giant.


The Scottish Government’s new economic strategy, published this week, (82 pages) has at its core the assertion – that tackling inequality is good for business. No matter how much I want this to be true – my instinct warns me that the essence of capitalism is the ‘inequality’ of economic and social opportunities (see end quote). Those of us who can’t handle 82 pages of economics – depend of commentators; this is from Stephen Boyd at the STUC. See more . It is encouraging that the Scottish Govt aspires to reconcile business growth with helping the poorest. Hugo Rifkind in the Spectator says that the Tories have abandoned any such pretence.


This week’s bulletin profiles Starcatchers, an Edinburgh-based, Cultural SEN member that specialises in performances and creativity for babies, toddlers and young children aged 0-5 and their parents and carers in Scotland. Its work is designed to nurture young children’s creative and cognitive development, sparking their imaginations Since its inception in 2006, Starcatchers has engaged with more than 160,000 children, parents carers and professionals; employed 144 artists; and delivered 9 residency projects in a range of community settings. Starcatchers programmes of skills development training for Early Years childcare students and professionals across Scotland have engaged with 627 practitioners and have toured with 30 productions in theatres and festivals across Scotland, the UK, Europe and North America. See more.


Found this quote in David Marquand’s latest book – Mammon’s Kingdom; Marquand is one of Britain’s leading public intellectuals of the centre left; don’t know the chap he’s quoting.


            “Seen in historical perspective, the attempt to combine the equality of civil and political rights, which is of the essence of democracy, with the inequality of economic and social opportunities, which is of the essence of capitalism, is still in its first youth.  There is sufficient experience, however, to suggest that the result represents, at best, a transitional arrangement… It may well be the case that democracy and capitalism, which at moments in their youth were allies, cannot live together once both have come of age.”


R. H. Tawney, Preface to 1938 edition of Equality


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