Senscot Bulletin: 06.09.19

Dear members and friends,

On my weekly visit to Aldi, I’m excited to discover a brand-new range of power-tools (Ferrex); my emotional reaction to tools is mysterious – ‘cos I get roused like a child in a toyshop. The human capacity to make and use tools is rooted deep in our evolutionary history; I wonder if it may be ‘hardwired’ into certain human brains. I suspect one of my uncles was so affected – as I am; I often see people ‘on the tools’ who ‘have the look’. There’s a line at the end of the film ‘Knight and Day’ – where Cameron Diaz says to Tom Cruise: “I’ve been trained to build a six-speed transmission with nothing but a pair of pliers and a crescent wrench”. “Wow” I thought, “my hero!”

A track enters the woods opposite my cottage – forming section 6 of the John Muir Way and Regional Cycling Route 76 – it’s well used; this entry has a 5ft timber gate, topped by a throw-over metal loop on an axel – ‘clunk’. In June, the timber became so badly rotted that the axel was adrift – kept snagging. Over weeks, I’ve been unable to find any ‘responsible authority’, so I devise a temporary fix: by attaching metal brackets on both sides, the axel is stabilised; works perfectly; well chuffed. Between planning and execution, it took me four hours of creative absorption – ‘in the zone’. When handling tools to fashion something, I feel intensely ‘the power of now’ – but also connected to something primordial.


Since Tuesday, I’ve been transfixed by the unfolding events in the House of Commons – as enthralling as any TV drama series. Is Johnson really such a crass blunderer – or is some cunning ploy afoot behind the scenes. The cross-party opposition group is far better organised this time – united, determined; their Bill and its progress was thoroughly and expertly prepared. Their control of parliament is not only procedural but comprehensive – including when the election happens. Impressive. I find Ken Clark a voice of calm good sense, amid all the shouting. He says that his party (of sixty years) has been captured by the right – now an English National Party – unfit to govern. Alex Massie in the Spectator agrees.


After the summer holidays, the Scottish Government publishes its programme for the year ahead – focussed substantially this year on measures to tackle climate change. See details of 14 proposed Bills and other measures. The document ends with 11 bullet points, outlining a governmental ‘vision’ for Scotland; specific aspirations and values – from which we can discern a coherent political philosophy (or not).


While not a Jack McConnell fan – I think he’s right about the re-emergence of violent sectarianism in Glasgow this week – national leadership is wanting.  I wish I was convinced that Celtic and Rangers really oppose religious hatred – so helpful to their shared business model.  Their culpability needs to be called out.


Another powerful appeal this week for the legalisation of assisted suicide; ‘The Inescapable Truth About Dying in Scotland’ says that 11 Scots a week end life in unbearable suffering.  Good BBC piece.  The reluctance of politicians is easy to understand – but humane legislation can only be a matter of time.


Frederic Laloux’s visionary “Re-inventing Organisations” introduced us to Buurtzorg (Netherlands) and self-managing structures in service delivery. This blog traces developments in this field, by gathering key insights from: Cornerstone (Scotland); Wellbeing Teams (England); and Here (England) – pioneers re-inventing health and social care provision.


Quote from Ken Clark’s memorable speech in Westminster’s the Article 50 debate – Feb 2017

“After the surprising collapse of the Soviet Union, eastern and central Europe could have collapsed into nationalist rivalry and the military regimes that preceded the second world war. We pressed the urgency of offering these new independent nations the goal of the European Union, which meant liberal democracy, free market trade and so forth. We made Europe a much more stable place. That has been our role in the European Union, and I believe that it is a very bad move, particularly for our children and grandchildren, that we are all sitting here now saying that we are embarking on a new unknown future; a position which is simply baffling to every friend of the United Kingdom throughout the world.”

The SE Census 2019 was launched this week by the Cabinet Secretary at CEIS’ SE Policy and Practice Conference in Glasgow. It provides another huge raft of statistics on the SE community in Scotland, reflecting emerging trends in the sector over recent years. Many of the stats will confirm existing views or understanding of the sector – as well as others, people are less familiar with. The reality is that the sector, despite so many positives developments, remains pretty fragile – with frontline organisations, in particular, finding it difficult out there (Housing Association/Credit Union stats put a different take on things). It was particularly good to hear the Cabinet Secretary acknowledge that more focus is required at a local level. The Conference also gave us the chance to hear about the work of the Chantier model in Quebec. Their story is an impressive one – both in terms of their approach and what they have achieved – and one from which Scotland could learn a lot. Senscot, with others, is hoping to forge some closer links in the months ahead.

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

In June, the Cross Party Group (CPG) on Social Enterprise looked at the potential role the new Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) could have in meeting the needs of the social enterprise and third sector communities. This prompted Glasgow SEN and Edinburgh SE to set up a face-to-face meeting with SNIB and Scottish Govt where it was agreed that a formal response from the frontline SE community would be welcomed. Scottish Community Finance (SCF) was invited to put together a response on behalf of the SE community. The formal response was submitted this week. Credit for this goes to Elizabeth Docherty (GSEN); Claire Patullo (Edinburgh SE) and Pauline Hinchion (SCF).


Our SE Conference, in partnership with Social Firms Scotland and Scottish Community Alliance, takes place on 25th/26th Nov 2019 – again at the Westerwood Hotel. See booking form. See ‘working’ Draft Programme.


Scottish Govt’s Programme for Government (2019-20) was set out this week (see above). Here are a number of items that will affect charities, the third sector and social enterprises.


Senscot, along with Social Firms Scotland and Scottish Community Alliance, is currently running a series of events around the country designed to give frontline organisations the opportunity to feed into shaping and informing the next Action Plan. Over 140 frontline SEs have participated in six events so far – with a further 6 scheduled in September and October. See summary of some recurring themes and comments to date.


Frontline News: Sad to hear that Fiona Pearson (West Lothian SEN) is retiring later this month. After 6 years at the helm, Fiona is going to be a big loss, however West Lothian SEN is now on the look-out for Fiona’s replacement – building on Fiona’s work in supporting West Lothian’s vibrant SE community.

The Melting Pot’s Good Ideas Programme is open again for applications – this time in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Closing dates are Glasgow – 16th Sept; Edinburgh – 28th Oct. See application details.


This week’s bulletin profiles a community café which aims to bring people together over good food in the Garnethill area of Glasgow’s city centre. The Project Café exists as a platform for social exchange and uses local food suppliers and other social enterprises to serve a simple, wholesome vegetarian menu. Sourdough bread is supplied from Freedom Bakery CIC, dry goods come from Greencity Wholefoods Cooperative and local vegetables are brought in from Locavore, among others. The café comprises a local makers shop, an eco-refill shop to safe on the use of plastic and a shared community space. Creating a welcoming space for the community is at the core of Project Café’s ethos, with exhibitions of local artists, book groups, workshops and playgroups all hosted on a regular basis.