I’ve been writing these columns for 20 years – long term readers will be aware that I penned many of them from the region of Andalucia in Spain which I came to love: its sunshine and very special light; its proud and hospitable people; their history and culture; their love of ‘fiesta’. I feel a deep personal loss, that Scotland no longer ‘belongs’ in Europe.
I know Scots living and working in Europe – Europeans living and working here – it works fine (their schoolchildren seem to teach them the native language). Boris Johnson complains that EU citizens “treat the UK as though it’s part of their own country”; but if he moves to curtail their rights – Euro countries will retaliate; the option of moving throughout Europe (with healthcare and mobile pensions) will disappear. Our young people, who are overwhelmingly Europhile, won’t have the life choices we enjoy; this is not acceptable.
In the 1920s, when my parents were children, their families moved to Scotland from the remote Val di Comino in the mountains of the Italian Abruzzo; the reason was poverty. There are now an estimated 30,000 Scots from that same valley, and Scottish Govt says our economic future depends on such migration. In 1992, addressing a major Independence march in Edinburgh, the late William McIlvanney said (in a tone of tremendous pride), “Scottishness is not some pedigree lineage – this is a mongrel tradition”. Economics apart, the offering of asylum to unfortunate people, is a proud part of Scottish identity; we need to be free to shape our own future.
The UK has its own share of ‘gutter’ journalism – spreading lies and malice – but press freedom is a cornerstone of our democracy – sacrosanct. The boycott, by political journalists, of a Downing St briefing on Monday, was, in my view, an important event; their refusal to allow the Govt to censor its own scrutiny. Even when, eventually, Labour get their act together, the Tory majority means they can do as they like in the Commons. Their decision to go to war with the BBC and the national newspapers is surprising – and won’t be quite as straightforward; at least I hope it won’t. Good article by Nick Cohen in The Spectator
Scotland currently has circa 15,000 youngsters in care; many readers will know that what we call our ‘care system’ is not impressive. Over three years ago, the First Minister announced an independent, ‘root and branch’ review of the system – which was published this Wednesday; I recall, at the time, she made an emotional pledge to improve the lives of these children. 45% of children in care will suffer mental health issues; 30% of prisoners were in care; it seems that ‘in care’ means `in jeopardy’. Can we hope this review will lead to meaningful action. Good piece from Severin Carrell in the Guardian.
The housing association sector has two basic models – there are ‘giants’ like the Wheatley Group, which manages 93,000 homes (CEO, Martin Armstrong outlines the benefits). Then there are the small, locally-owned housing associations which serve a specific community (GWSF Director, David Bookbinder outlines the benefits). The most important asset any community can have, is a locally-owned ‘anchor organisation’ – with the competence and confidence to lead its development. An external ‘giant’, colonising your housing stock, is not the same as managing it yourself – alongside multiple social enterprise spin-offs.
Quick mention of actor Kirk Douglas who died on Wednesday, aged 103; I particularly remember his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh in Lust For Life. Douglas said that his proudest professional achievement was helping to end the McCarthyite Hollywood blacklist. See New York Times Obit.
Alexander Hamilton (dad was from Ayrshire) was one of the founding fathers of the USA. It’s not clear whether this quote from 1792, about populism, refers to Donald or Boris.
“When a man unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits – despotic in his ordinary demeanour – known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty – when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity – to join in the cry of danger to liberty – to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion – to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day – it may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”
Senscot will be holding its AGM – its 20th – on Friday, 6th March 2020 at the Grassmarket Centre in Edinburgh. As is usual with our AGMs, we couple it up with a discussion/debate on issues of particular relevance to the frontline social enterprise community in Scotland. This year, we are co-hosting with Glasgow Caley’s Atlantic Social Lab – with the theme of our discussion being – ‘Sustaining a favourable climate for Scotland’s social enterprise sector’. As our SE Strategy approaches the halfway stage, and we enter into the second SE Action Plan, we will be exploring: how investment, to date, has enhanced the climate for social enterprises; how this support should be maintained; what are the gaps – and how can they be filled; what is working well – and can be built upon; and what should our SE community look like come 2026. The Senscot AGM will follow the discussion. To sign up, please see Registration Form.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
Last year saw the official launch of Spring Social Prescribing – the largest co-ordinated project of its kind, involving a network of 30 community-led health organisations coming together to deliver social prescribing services in communities across Scotland and Northern Ireland. This week, Spring launched its new website – see link above – giving details and specific examples on how social prescribing acts as an important and positive link between the health service and local communities.
Good Call is a Dundee-based social enterprise that offers, we believe, a unique service for charities and social enterprises in Scotland. They have a single mission – to seek to provide charities and social enterprises with the lowest cost and highest quality mobile communications available. They do this by offering proposals and quotes for connection with all major UK mobile networks. To date, Good Call has been able to save customers up to 40% on existing mobile contracts. See Good Call Information Sheet.
This week sees the latest in a series on blogs from Senscot Legal. This latest blog – Third Sector Legal Structures: Mythbusters – focuses on debunking some of the common “myths”, misunderstandings and misconceptions that surround common legal structures in our third sector. Here’s a link to previous blogs.
Foundation Scotland has produced its own Grant Map – to make it easier for community-based organisations to identify grant programmes that either Scotland-wide or specific to certain sectors/geographies.
Glasgow SEN is inviting proposals for two new projects – Web Development and the Pocket Guide to GSEN (Edition 2). See links to download ‘briefs. Closing date for both proposals is Wednesday, 26th Feb 2020.
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in Pitmedden in Aberdeenshire, that provides practical work experience for people with additional support needs through working with waste wood. The Wood Shop – the trading division of Wood Recyclability Ltd – has been in operation for over 20 years. Over this time, the organisation has grown steadily from 2 staff and 6 trainees in a small croft and out-buildings to 10 staff and up to 32 trainees each day in a new purpose-built workshop, yard and 5 acres of agricultural land. Their shop provides a range of high quality, hand-crafted products – and are currently exploring options to diversify beyond wood – into tyre and plastic recycling.