Senscot Bulletin 06.07.18

Dear members and friends,

Parking outside my cottage recently, I whack the fence, breaking a section; while I’m pleased with my repair job (three hours) – the clumsiness of this collision is concerning.  Also worrying, that I dropped my hearing aid up at the garden centre last week, without realising; retracing my steps – contemplating the hassle and time for a replacement – when one of the café ladies says it’s been handed in; almost hug her in relief.

Also last week, I arrive home from lunch ‘up the town’ without my wallet; for thirty years, I’ve used a pocket Filofax – money, cards, appointments, phone numbers, everything.  Returning to the restaurant, I anticipate the aggravation of cancelling bank cards – replacing my driving licence, phone lists etc.  I experience a dizzying surge of joy as the smiling cashier produces my beautiful old leather Filofax – my long-trusted companion.  I try to give her £10 but she tells me not to be silly – I’d simply left it on the counter while paying; I feel a lucky laddie.

I had a recent ‘meltdown’ in a coffee bar in Edinburgh’s George Street – when I dropped my tray and everything else; I’m wondering if these minor ‘incidents’ indicate a pattern of incremental decline.  But if they do – so what; while the energy’s still there we soldier on: ‘all things are formed of energy’.  What’s the best way to enjoy the rest of my life: one day at a time – adjust – make the next move – if there isn’t one – make it up.


The Prime Minister’s efforts to obscure the bitter Tory war on Brexit, has run out of road; in the UK’s urgent national interests, she needs to come up with sensible proposals – and if this requires some resignations – get on with it.  Today (Friday) the cabinet is holding a crunch away day at Chequers and Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins says that the compromise option to be presented is a version of the Norwegian model: ‘always the only sane option for a post Brexit Britain’.  Jenkins also writes: ‘the public interest requires that this week be Boris Johnson’s last as foreign secretary’. Fasten seat belts for turbulence.


Scotland’s continually rising toll of drug deaths (the worst rate in Europe) is tragic in itself – but also for its wider implications; any addiction, alcohol, food, drugs etc is an indicator of unhappiness – the opposite of wellbeing . From my own contact with homeless people I associate chaotic drug addiction on the streets, with very difficult, traumatic childhood experiences. I hope the Scottish Govt. does develop a better strategy to prevent drug deaths – but our most effective intervention would be with primary, even nursery school children, in difficulty. That’s where I would prioritise resources. NIDA (USA) issued advice.


My interest in the Mackintosh inferno has moved on from the pain and blame stage, to the practicalities: how efficient and transparent is the Scottish Establishment at dealing with complex challenges; in this regard I find architect Malcolm Fraser’s piece in CommonSpace full of common sense. He asks for a public statement about what fire insurance the main contractor (construction giant Kier) had in place; he asks why the building burnt like a firebomb (dodgy building materials?); he gives his reasons and seeks assurance that the Mack will be rebuilt, where Charles Rennie put it, at Garnethill.


I’ve not yet read any of Richard Powers’ novels but, from reviews, I’m tempted to try The Overstory:  Humankind is self-destructing – but trees represent the planet’s capacity to survive us. Quote from interview:

“I first encountered a giant redwood in California a few years ago – until then I’d been blind to what amazing creatures’ trees are.  It was like a religious conversion: not in the ‘theistic’ sense, but in the sense of being bound back into a system of meaning that doesn’t begin and end with humans.  Environmentalism is still under the umbrella of a kind of humanism: we say we should ‘manage our resources better’.  But these are not ‘our resources’ – and we won’t be well until we realise that.”

The inaugural SE Reference Sub-Group – involving front-line social enterprises and membership-led Intermediaries – first met in March of this year. The purpose of the Sub-Group is to consider the progress of the SE Action Plan and feedback issues of concerns as well as positive ideas or potential ideas for moving forward. The first meeting agreed 5 proposed actions to be brought to Scottish Govt’s attention – with a view to implementation, where practicably possible, during 2018/19. We’re pleased to say that there is progress on a number of fronts – and we hope to have further news over the summer months. More immediately re ‘Action 3’, Glasgow City Council last week approved the city’s own SE Strategy – being launched in August – as well as the appointment of a Social Economy Board. This follows the development of a local SE Action Plan by Argyll SEN – produced by the sector – for the sector.

Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding

Details are now available for the 4th John Pearce Memorial Lecture which will take place on Monday 10th September 2018. This year’s lecture will be delivered by Baroness Glenys Thornton who follows in the footsteps of Willie Roe; Pauline Graham; and Laurie Russell. The lecture, this year, also forms part of the Social Enterprise World Forum Academic Symposium which takes place on the 10th -11th September at Glasgow Caledonian University. For further info and to book your place, see full details.


Senscot Legal is currently recruiting for a new member of staff to cover maternity leave. Karina will be heading off in mid-October and the post will be available on a 12-month contract. Closing date for applications – Friday 27th July 2018. Please send CV with covering letter to See Job Description.


Part of last week’s SE Reference Group meeting included reflections on our current social investment landscape from both Pauline Hinchion (SCRT) and Alastair Davies (SIS) – followed by a Q&A session. The main issue to surface during this session was how to make smaller loans more accessible to social enterprises – both in terms of affordability and in ‘turn around’. Alastair has since come back to us with a view to exploring how this approach could be taken forward in practical terms. We’ll keep you posted on this.


Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard raised some hackles across our third sector when he called for the provision of elderly care in Scotland to be nationalised with higher taxes used to pay for free cover for all. His point that the principles behind the NHS — free at the point of delivery and paid for by taxation — should be extended to social care –  is certainly worthy of further debate – and would likely be supported by many. However, there is a considerable research that suggests that the third sector is already providing good quality care in this area – as you can see from these responses.


This week’s bulletin profiles an exciting development in the town of Montrose in Angus. The Montrose Playhouse Project is currently working on ambitious plans to renovate the town’s former swimming pool into an Arts Centre & Three-screen Digital Cinema –  as a venue that is accessible and welcoming to all members of the local community and, at the same time. to enhance, develop and advance education and the arts in Montrose. As well as the cinema screens, The Playhouse will benefit from rentable multi-purpose rooms, conference space and a café bar. The Playhouse Project has been supported by the Lottery, Firstport and Angus Council. The community took ownership of the building in September 2017 – and are now raising the funds for the full renovation – with the help of 60 local tradesmen volunteering their services.