Senscot Bulletin: 07.06.19

Alongside normal capitalism, we are seeing a steady rise of ‘collaborative’ production: goods, services and organisations appear – not in response to market forces – but to collective interests that are more social/moral than economic. Wikipedia, possibly the biggest information product in the world, is made by 27,000 ‘editors’ for free. Its potential advertising revenue estimates at an annual £2bn – but it doesn’t allow advertising – it’s a non-profit – because its mission is to provide “neutral, fact-based knowledge to the world”.

Last week, clothing firm North Face apologised for having ‘hacked’ Wikipedia, to advertise its products: when you visited the page (say for the Scottish Cuillin Mountains) there’s a guy in the foreground wearing one of their jackets. Wikipedia said: “What they did was akin to defacing public property” – which I particularly liked: I regard capitalist online platforms as ‘temporary squatters’ in what will inevitably become the realm of the collective Commons.

Information technology means that whole swathes of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm – which readers of this bulletin will recognise as the ‘social economy’; that capitalism can only end with a violent uprising of the proletariat is not for the technologically literate. There is of course the small matter of the stranglehold corporations have over most economic life and governments. The US ambassador (our ‘special’ relationship) said on TV that, in future trade talks, our NHS would need to be ‘on the table’. No, Mr Ambassador – our NHS is not negotiable; unless you really want to see a violent uprising.



Whatever the economic considerations, Trump should not have been afforded a state visit to the UK. This is not a leader trying to ‘make gentle the life of this world’ – but the very opposite – he parades savageness; our red-carpet treatment, ‘normalises’ outrageous levels of proto-fascism. My sympathies are with those who took to the streets – protesting the bombast of a barbarian. I’m reminded of a Doris Lessing insight: “Very few people really care about freedom, about liberty, about the truth, very few. Very few people have the kind of guts on which a real democracy has to depend”.  Good old Jezza – out on rain-swept streets.



The impact investment market (worth about 500 billion dollars?) claims to direct capital to companies that have positive social impact. After three years researching social impact bonds, journalist Nadine Pequeneza made a film – ‘The Invisible Heart’ – which suggests they might be doing more harm than good. The central tension stems from the requirement to pay dividends to investors – which can damage the social mission and even basic human rights. The film says that the company ratings, on which social investors rely, are unreliable; that a standardised global framework is required. Pequeneza’s piece in the Stanford Review.



New Zealand, under the leadership of PM Jacinda Ardern, has become the first major country to adopt ‘wellbeing of citizens’ rather than GDP as its official measure of success. All new spending must advance one of five government priorities: mental health, child poverty, inequality, low emissions, digital technology.



Repeated attempts by govt. agencies in Scotland to block public access to information show that freedom of information law should be strengthened – according to a submission to Holyrood by journalists. The letter was brought to our attention by the Ferret (ever reliable) and you will recognise many of the 40 signatories.



For reasons I don’t really understand, the revival of viable populations on Scotland’s islands really engages me; I’ll watch with interest the ‘Islands Revival’ project being led by social scientists from the James Hutton Institute. They’ll document where ‘green shoots of recovery’ are evident, to improve repopulation policy.



During the Trump visit, Cathy Newman spoke with writer Arundhati Roy at the roadside (video clip); great charm, wisdom and tenacity. A Roy quote:

“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe… Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”


Yesterday’s SE Reference Sub-Group in Glasgow attracted around 50 SEs and membership-led organisations to reflect on the progress of the current SE Action Plan (in its final year) – and begin discussions on how to help shape the priorities for the next Action Plan. The event considered what has worked well; what gaps still exist; and how can we ensure that support and the allocation of resources better reflect the needs of frontline social enterprises. A series of locally-based ‘gatherings’ are now planned over the coming months to identify a series of ‘guiding principles’ that will focus on criteria such as greater transparency; a more equal spread of resources; and increased influence on the decision-making process. Together, these ‘principles’ will provide a template to ensure the next Action Plan can have a greater impact across local communities. Full report available shortly.

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

Joining or participating in a local or thematic SEN can increase ‘connections’ for social enterprises 10-fold. This is one of the findings from an ‘impact evaluation’ pilot carried out by Assist Social Capital – using their Unlocking Potential model – and was part of the SE Action Plan’s commitment to exploring new methods of measuring social impact. Four SENs participated – with the full report providing clear evidence of the impact SENs’ activities have on members. This blog – by our own Eddie Nisbet – gives an overview of the report’s findings – highlighting SENs’ contribution in supporting almost 1400 thematic and local social enterprises. To accompany the blog, Eddie also provides some vital statistics.



Disturbing news this week that the EU has ‘frozen’ more than £20m funding for ESF grants as a result of ‘deficiencies’ in the way Scottish Govt administers them. This response from SCVO highlights not only their concerns for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities but also for the very existence of a number of well-established third sector organisations.



A number of SEN members have been actively involved in the growth of outdoor nurseries. Stramash, Simply Play, Instinctively Wild and project 31 are just some examples – there are only 18 in Scotland. This is going to change, however, with the launch of a new funding programme from Inspiring Scotland to support up to 3,000 children over a five-year period to access outdoor play and learning, concentrating on disadvantaged areas with limited or no outdoor nursery provision. The fund – the result of an anonymous £500k donation – reflects a growing understanding of the huge physical, mental, social and emotional benefits of playing outside from an early age. Closing date for applications is Friday 12th July 2019.



It was very sad to hear this week of the death of Roger Goodyear. Roger was known to many in the world of community enterprise as a major driving force behind the hugely impressive range of community-led activities in Portsoy – from Portsoy Community Enterprise; the Portsoy Boat Festival – that then expanded into the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival. Roger will be sadly missed.



This week’s bulletin profiles a community-led organisation working to support vulnerable and disadvantaged families, young people and children to given them every possible chance to meet their full potential and participate fully in society. Hope Amplified, in particular, looks to encourage the participation of the BME community who are often disadvantaged as a result of disillusionment, lack of opportunities, social & cultural exclusion and financial deprivation. Based in Rutherglen, Hope Amplified provides a range of services such as the Kush Entrepreneurship Development Centre – which includes bespoke programmes such as the Women’s Entrepreneurship Project and the Young People Entrepreneurship Journey.