Senscot Bulletin: 06.03.20

Heading up the M9 to Stirling, behind a ramshackle builder’s truck – when a piece of rock, about 4 inches square, bounces twice and bullets past my windscreen; get such a fright, I pull over; that could have been ‘the big adios’. Following any close-shave with danger – (over the years there have been many) – I get the recurrent sense that I enjoy some special protection ‘from above’; now again, on the hard shoulder, it visits. A part of my brain (Logos) rejects this as nonsense; another part (Mythos) enjoys the feeling that someone is watching over me.

Fables and stories are our way of achieving an understanding of the world – an understanding we can cope with; if we don’t make good stories out of our lives, we can struggle. In modern times, ‘critical reason’ is over-dominant – we have lost the ability to make fables – lost touch with our mythical and even mystical side. By mystical, I don’t mean the religious ecstasies of ‘great saints’ – but simply, that certain human experience is not accessible to the intellect. Sometimes, in the garden, I feel a mystical connection to the natural world; Yoga, ‘the settling of the mind in silence’ can be mystical; as can simply breathing mindfully etc etc. Some people enjoy a ‘mystical’ relationship with a dead person they love.

I frequently visit either Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald singing ‘Someone to watch over me’; a Gershwin gem, celebrating one of our deepest human longings. That rock on the M9 would have shattered my windscreen.


Everyone I meet just now wants to discuss the Coronavirus – wondering how worried we should be; a UK/Scottish outbreak is inevitable – but will be less severe if ‘contained’ until the weather warms. Most info suggests that the virus is no worse than ‘normal’ winter flu – which is only worrying at my age and decrepitude. The Health Centre I use still offers a high-quality service – but the 15 years I’ve been registered, has seen a gradual erosion of any spare capacity. This is potentially the biggest challenge nationally – NHS staff being over-run; retired nurses and doctors – please stand by.


I was hoping that ‘Super Tuesday’ would bring a further surge for self-proclaimed ‘socialist’ Bernie Sanders – but Joe Biden has made it a two-horse race to become the Democrat contender in November. This Simon Kuper column helped me better understand the polarisation of US politics; how it’s more about identity than ideology – about who you are, rather than what you believe.


We learn this week, the likelihood that Six Nations Rugby will move behind a pay wall; the marketisation of everything means that people of affluence and people of modest means, lead increasingly separate lives.  Rather than the common good, our society is increasingly shaped by corporate profits – everything for sale.


In 1982 there were about 70 Council run residential outdoor centres in Scotland – now there are seven; impressive campaign by Blairvadach prevented (or postponed?) its closure last week.  From one side, corporates privatise what was our commons – from the other shrinking council budgets, close services.


Living close to Grangemouth and Mossmorran, I’ve been concerned for years about the integrity of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). George Kerevan (v. credible) has a disturbing article in Bella Caledonia – demonstrating that the SEPA Board (Govt appointed) is the captive of corporate interests


“I think,” Tehanu said in her soft, strange voice, “that when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn’t do. All that I might have been and couldn’t be. All the choices I didn’t make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven’t been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I loved, the breath I breathed.”

― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Other Wind

Today, Senscot is hosting an event at the Grassmarket Project in Edinburgh in partnership with Glasgow Caley’s Atlantic Social Lab. The morning session will be looking at the current landscape for social enterprise in Scotland – what is working; what can be built upon – as well as those areas that, perhaps have not worked so well. The event will also look at what and how this landscape should be evolving over the life of the SE Strategy (2016-26) – and how can we ensure that the benefits of the Strategy and supporting Action Plans reach out to as many organisations as possible across our sector. With the new Action Plan just round the corner, the sector will be keen to see if there will be a genuine ‘re-distribution’ of support and resources to those most in need. The afternoon session will see Senscot’s 20th AGM. More on this next week.

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

Although applications are closed for this year, Community Learning Exchanges (CLE) are proving hugely popular – and valuable – to SENs and their members across the country. Last month, the Rural Social Enterprise Hub organised a CLE to the Scottish Borders. The visit included participants from Fife, South Lanarkshire, Uist, Barra and Argyll and Bute. This Report on the visit – highlights the value to these learning exchanges; the particularly important role that social enterprise can play in rural communities – and the benefits of peer-to-peer learning. See Community Learning Exchange Progress Report (Jan 2020)


Fyne Futures Ltd issued this press release last week welcoming Argyll and Bute Council’s decision to increase the value of its exiting recycling contract for 2020/21. With new legislation coming into effect, recycling services will require to be redesigned and, in light of this, Fyne Futures has written to the Council proposing a Public Social Partnership – of at least three years – to allow for service re-design but also for Fyne Futures to invest in vehicles and machinery to ensure they can meet the goals of Zero Waste Bute.


Last week saw the publication of  ‘A Cultural Strategy for Scotland’ – highlighting the important role of culture in all aspects of life in Scotland – including three overarching ‘ambitions’ as well as a set of guiding principles. It’s also good to see the role of the Cultural SEN being recognised (Page 16). The Cultural SEN has been active for around 10 years now – with over 150 organisations directly engaged with the SEN. For more info on the Cultural Strategy or Cultural SEN, contact .


Frontline News: Following the recent CLE visit to the CFINE Food Pantry in Aberdeen, Govanhill Baths is now crowd-funding for their own Food Pantry – as part of their new Health and Wellbeing Centre:

Good news this week as Love Gorgie Farm opened its doors to the public. The former Gorgie City Farm went into liquidation in Nov 2019 – but the site has now been taken over by the charity, LOVE Learning:

Wasps Artists’ Studios opened their latest venture in Perth last week – adding to their portfolio of classic buildings across the country –  providing centres of creativity for over 100 practitioners and businesses:

Corra Foundation has launched a new £1m per year programme targeted at grassroots organisation as part of their new 10 year Strategy – with the focus being on equality, social action, wellbeing and rights.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new member of the Health SEN, based in Airdrie, that is dedicated to improving communication and sensory processing for children. Chattersense, recently set up as a community interest company (CIC), has the goal of promoting all aspects of communication and sensory needs and will provide the opportunity for parents to learn basic skills to promote communication in its most natural format – through play, songs and other recreational activities. Sensory differences can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to communicate effectively – and Chattersense objective is to help children to grow, learn, socialise and play.