Senscot Bulletin: 07.07.17

Dear members and friends,

On Sunday I willed myself to watch George Best: All by Himself – on BBC 2; Daniel Gordon’s documentary shows his subject at his most glorious (on the pitch) – and at his most abject – as a shambling, self-pitying drunk; but always as someone who mysteriously, commanded widespread affection.  On September 4th, I’ll quietly celebrate 16 years without alcohol – remind myself how little we understand of how addiction works; why some folk escape – while others destroy themselves.  My sense is that we are in the realm of the psyche (soul) rather than medicine.
            Many dear friends, over the last 50 years, have, like myself, been addicted to alcohol; we would discuss the almost ‘mystical’ euphoria it brings.  For many, this ‘high’ proved too ‘fundamental’ to live without – so they ‘managed’ their addiction as best they could; I was unable to do this and it was killing me.  The decision to quit was taken by me – but by a part of me deeper than conscious will; it’s as if Eros and Thanatos – life and death – contested the outcome – in the ‘underworld’ – and then informed me.
            The Guardian journalist Tanya Gold posted a ‘felt’ piece last week (confused and brave) – about how alcoholism continues long after we stop drinking; 15 years sober, she describes her uneasy co-existence with the negative voice in her head that still plots her self-destruction: “If I am unwary, she can plunge me into the deepest despair – and I have learned to construct an obstacle course to thwart her; it is made of ordinary human love – nothing else works.”  Good thinking Tanya.


Each week I probably follow about a dozen political commentators – most of whom are presently slagging-off our SNP govt – even Nicola’s catching some of it; has her jaded ministerial team been exposed as fundamentally mediocre – or will the summer break replenish their mojo: I’m not sure. Ministerial competence apart – this New Statesman piece suggests that if Scottish Labour went with Jeremy Corbyn’s politics – they could become a political force again up here; but they’ve still too much ‘deadwood’ to clear away. Ex SNP minister Alex Neil (now one-removed from the Party whip) has interesting reflections on the future of Scottish Politics – the Corbyn factor moving everyone a bit to the left. Tories apart, there is much consensus in Scottish politics; party tribalism concocts differences – holds us back.


I first visited the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in 2000 – when Senscot, along with others, was laying down the basic infrastructure for the advance of social enterprise in Scotland; during this, the School’s 20th year, over 1000 students will pass through its branches across the UK. Founded by the late Michael Young – the SSE experience is still based on his key idea – that students should train in cohorts of around 10 – learning from project experience and each other in a process of ‘action learning’. In this 20th anniversary interview with New Start – SSE Director Alistair Wilson reflects on what’s changing in our sector – and what isn’t.


John Swinney’s pupil equity funding (PEF) – giving spending power direct to head teachers, in proportion to how many poor children attend each school – is a brave and exciting innovation whose benefits are already visible at the front line. Predictably, reports are now coming in of certain Council procurement departments scrambling to re-establish their grip on the tendering process. Unsurprisingly, procurement professionals would rather award contracts to established national providers than to a small community agency focused only on local schools – it’s safer; but it is also exactly against the intent of this fund. Here is the laborious tender document from the City of Edinburgh Council


In a 2004 TV contest to choose ‘ the greatest ever Canadian’ – viewers chose a man who had been dead for 18 years, called Tommy Douglas – born in Falkirk in 1904; few Scots will recognise him. Premier of Saskatchewan between 1944 and 1961, his legacy was the creation of Medicare – of which he is the acknowledged father; his model was ultimately adopted all across Canada. 150 years ago this week, the various Provinces of Canada were united into one country; as we mark this birthday, we should acknowledge the immense influence of Scots like Tommy Douglas in the making of the Canadian nation. (Irrelevant footnote: his daughter married actor Donald Sutherland).


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


JOBS: Social Investment Scotland, Govan Community Project, Rocket Science UK Ltd, Partick Thistle Charitable Trust, Age Scotland Enterprises Ltd, Social Enterprise Academy, WHALE Arts


EVENTS: Social in the Gardens, 02 Aug; August Bistro Night, 04 Aug; Create a Teddy Bear Cake Topper, 18 Aug; Bake & Decorate 6 Cupcakes, 18 Aug


TENDERS: Treatment and Recovery/Recycling of Wood Waste – Aberdeenshire Council, Provision of Cafeteria Facilities at Ionad Spors Leodhais 2017 – 2020 – Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and more
Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: The Management Committee of what is known as the Partnership and Procurement Hub has agreed to introduce a new working title for the project – ‘Partnership for Procurement (P4P)’. This link gives a breakdown on what P4P will be delivering for social enterprises and third sector organisations. This week, P4P completed its recruitment process with the appointment of two additional staff – bringing the staff complement up to four. The new posts include a further P4P Co-ordinator and a Support Officer – joining the existing team members – Yvonne McBride (P4P Manager) and George McConnachie (P4P Co-ordinator). To find out more on what P4P can offer, contact


Senscot has been facilitating the Sport SEN since 2010 – and now supports a growing network of 150 organisations. As the Sport SEN has developed, our focus has been to promote the wider contribution sport makes to local communities. This approach is often referred to as ‘Sport for Change’ – and recognises the range of social impacts delivered by sports organisations both to individuals and local communities. Sport for Change has been increasingly recognised worldwide – and this story about the Girls in the Game social enterprise in Chicago gives a flavour of what this approach can achieve.


Every minute one million plastic bottles are sold – less than half are recycled; some estimate that a third find their way into our oceans – with effects that we are only beginning to understand: toxic particles ingested by the fish entering the human food chain? If you are exploring the idea of creating a zero waste or upcycling initiative, you may want to browse this site. Good Goal visits every enterprise themselves, across Europe, and writes a review; lots of interesting ideas at the ‘posher’ end of a growing worldwide movement. But some warn that our efforts are inadequate – that a crisis is building.


The SE Code has been accepted as the benchmark by which social enterprises in Scotland recognise each other – with this being recognised in both the SE Strategy (2016-26) and as the core criteria for the SE Census 2017 – due out this autumn. However, there is also recognition that other ‘structures’ – whilst not social enterprises – also make an important contribution within a ‘wider movement’. These ‘socially responsible businesses’ (SRBs) include some CICs Ltd by shares as well as other ‘mission-led’ organisations. To some, this distinction remains a grey area. The SE Code Steering Group has produced this Chart in an effort to bring some clarity of understanding to this issue.


This week’s bulletin re-visits a social enterprise first ‘profiled’ in March 2011. All Cleaned Up Scotland (ACU), based in Edinburgh, specialises in industrial and commercial cleaning, while also delivering employability programmes to some of the most disadvantaged communities in Scotland. Its ethos centres on providing voluntary opportunities, work experience and sustainable employment for people with convictions and multiple barriers to employment. ACU now employs over 20 staff – with more than 60% coming through their own employability service – and currently operates contracts across the whole of Scotland. Cleaning services cover stairwells, bars, construction sites, community spaces as well as end of tenancy cleans.


Being without grace – I envy how much women admire ‘a great dancer’ – almost ‘reverence’; people of African origin seem blessed with a special ‘attunement’. This is the second half of an impressive poem about the power of dance: Some Bright Elegance, by young Zambian/British poet Kayo Chingonyi. Full poem.


Channel a packed Savoy Ballroom and slide across the dusty floor as your zoot-suited, twenties self, the feather in your hat from an ostrich, the swagger in your step from the ochre dust of a West African village. Dance for the times you’ve been stalked by store detectives for a lady on a bus, for the look of disgust on the face of a boy too young to understand why he hates but only that he must. Dance for Sammy, dead and penniless, and for the thousands still scraping a buck as street corner hoofers who, though they dance for their food, move as if it is only them, and the drums, talking.


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210