Senscot Bulletin: 06.10.17

Dear members and friends,

More than strong leaders – I believe that powerful political narratives shape our society – in my lifetime, two in particular: 1) The Social Democratic story rescues the world from a self-serving elite – which has captured the wealth and the political systems. Ordinary people will reclaim and re-invest power in a democratic state – attuned to the common good: 2) the Neoliberal story rescues the world from the collectivising, overmighty state – which crushes freedom and individual opportunity. Through the free market – heroic entrepreneurs will deliver wealth – which will trickle down to everyone. At different times – one or other of these philosophies has captured the public imagination; that humankind has advanced through our extreme competitiveness – or the opposite – that it’s our urge to co-operate that’s spectacularly unusual.

            Now that Corbyn is the bookies’ favourite to become the next PM – we can expect the defining debate about state ownership to gain momentum. But a new ‘nationalisation’ needs to acknowledge ‘localisation’ – the human scale organising and collaboration in neighbourhoods around the country. In a recent article, George Monbiot advances a ‘story’ about reviving community around the places where we live; neither the market nor the state – but around a great neglected economic sphere: the Commons. Local resources owned and managed by community enterprises; a vibrant participatory culture – making decisions to ensure that local wealth is shared by everyone. Monbiot calls this the Politics of Belonging. It’s easy for me to embrace this ‘story’- because it happens to be where I pitched my tent many years ago. Still here.



There has been widespread criticism of the violent reaction of the Guardia Civil to peaceful voters in Barcelona and it is difficult to predict how things will play out over the weeks and months ahead. So far, the people of Catalonia have shown great restraint in the face of the heavy-handed approach from the Madrid Govt – as well as a lecture on democracy from a King. However, aside from footage of events on the streets – and reaction to Sunday’s events, there appears to be another narrative taking place off camera: a notable absence of support from the EU and EU Govts for their right to a referendum; questions as to whether there was/is majority support for full independence; and suggestions that recent events serve as a useful diversion for both the Madrid and Catalan Govts – each mired in corruption proceedings.  Ada Colau Ballano, Mayor of Barcelona, is emerging as an impressive figure in this stand-off. See her statement from yesterday.



The Scottish Land Commission (SLC) Conference in Dunfermline last week – saw the launch of our Govt’s Scottish Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement. Attendees said that Land reform secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, impressively reflected the priority this administration attaches to improving both the transparency and diversity of land ownership. The SLC has published its priorities (2018-21) – which include ‘reducing the constraints on vacant land for housing’; shorthand for a vacant land levy – which seems to be gaining support. It appears the tiny landowning elite is getting restless about SNP intent; a positive sign.



According to various official surveys – the game of golf in Scotland is in trouble; clubs increasingly struggling to survive. While many reasons are offered for this decline – the most obvious one is studiously ignored: that golf has disappeared behind an expensive Sky paywall – which only a minority of Scottish families can afford; a whole generation of our children growing up without exposure to a great game we gave to the world. The acquisition and exploitation of a common asset by commercial interests is called ‘enclosure’; a far more serious example is underway in the US around ownership of the internet.



Scottish Govt has announced this week that it is extending its moratorium on fracking ‘indefinitely’ – effectively banning it in Scotland. This follows a public consultation which attracted over 60,000 responses – overwhelmingly opposed. Opposition to the ban comes from the likely sources (INEOS etc). Irrespective of whether or not the decision is based on principle or political expediency – surely this decision is to be welcomed.



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

JOBS: Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, The Southern Uplands Partnership, Good Morning Service, Social Enterprise Academy, Zero Tolerance.

EVENTS: Bistro Night, 07 Oct; Portobello Market, 07 Oct; Leading Growth for Senior Leaders, 25 Oct; Pre-start Leadership (Aberdeen), 31 Oct; Groundwork Training – Practices for good team collaboration, 01 Nov

TENDERS: Scalpay School Site Feasibility Study – North Harris Trust (NHT), Provision of Taxi Services – Lanarkshire Region, Scottish Health Survey 2018-2021 – Scottish Government, Substance Misuse Services – Aberdeen City Council. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Fears that Scotland’s newly devolved Employability contracts would see our third sector missing out have been confirmed. Scottish Govt announced this week that of the 9 contracts covering Scotland from April 2018, private sector firms will make up around 80% of the preferred bidders. Third sector only makes up around 15%. This will be a huge disappointment to many in the sector – and a huge missed opportunity for our Govt to demonstrate distinct approaches to delivering such programmes in Scotland. They will rightly be asked to account for why this has happened. It appears that is spite of all the talk of these ‘new approaches’ – cost trumps everything else. SCVO has produced this statement as well as a comprehensive briefing on the process involved.



Bookings are beginning to flow in for our SE Conference this year at the Westerwood Hotel (7th/8th Dec). The programme for our jointly-hosted event – “Collaborating towards a Sharing Economy” – is shaping up and further details on speakers and workshops will firm up over the next week or so. Our intention is always to make the event as affordable as possible for front-line SEs with an overnight rate – including dinner, bed and breakfast – of £70 for SEN members and other social enterprises – £100 for intermediaries/support agencies/public sector etc. See Booking Form



News of the retiral of Martin Sime, who has for 25 years been the chief officer of SCVO; it will be difficult to replace his experience, judgement and authority. In his book Reinventing Organisations, Frederic Laloux suggests that whenever humanity shifts to a new stage of consciousness – we create new organisational structures. Martin’s retiral comes shortly after Laurie Russell and Graham Bell; “the old order changing, yielding place to the new”. I wonder if we’ll start to see the introductions of new 21st century organisational paradigms. Good luck to Martin in whatever’s next for him.



News also this week that Josiah Lockhart will be replacing Karen McGregor as CEO of Firstport who is moving on to a new position with CalMac Ferries. Josiah joins Firstport from Gorgie City Farm. Firstport has now reached its 10th anniversary and has celebrated with the publication of an impressive report on its achievement – as well as this equally impressive video. We wish Josiah well in his new role.



If you are in the area, the 7th Bert Mullan Lecture takes place tonight at the Stirling Court Hotel (7pm) with guest speaker, Stuart Cosgrove. The lecture, organised by the Scottish League of Credit Unions (SLCU), takes place every two years with the purpose of connecting Credit Unions and like-minded community organisations – through a guest speaker who offers inspiration in the same way as Bert Mullan – founder of  Scotland’s first Credit Union back in 1970



This week’s bulletin profiles a Sport SEN member, based in Dundee, that operates a variety of sporting and physical activities across the city, with an emphasis on inclusion. Fairfield’s main activities are based round football and tennis classes – work closely with several local schools to create a clear path from school to sports club for young people. Since 2016, over 1800 school children engaged in physical activity sessions made available by Fairfield. Their range of activities has also expanded to include boxing, dance classes as well as employability schemes – with the community asset transfer of a new pavilion currently underway. Fairfield was recently featured in Senscot’s Sport for Change Briefing.



The significance of the story in archaic and preliterate cultures – is well illustrated in a remark Laurens van der Post made about the Kalahari Bushmen:


"The supreme expression of his spirit was in his stories; he was a wonderful storyteller; the story was his most sacred possession. These people knew what we do not: that without a story you have not got a nation, or a culture, or a civilisation. Without a story of your own to live – you haven’t got a life of your own."


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




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