Senscot Bulletin: 07.10.16

Dear members and friends,

The Home Office has confirmed that Border Force is “working closely with several airport operators to introduce a Fast-track Passport Control service”; it seems that First and Business Class passengers already enjoy this privilege on payment of £17.50.  Under discussion is the extension of this option of paid ‘queue jumping’ – unknown in my generation.
            Like most people, I was raised to ‘wait my turn’; ‘the ethic of the queue’ has a pleasing egalitarian appeal because it disregards wealth, power, privilege; waiting at a shop, cinema, bus-stop – we’re all equal citizens.  We also appreciate the exceptions: the A & E department will prioritise urgency: the yooni our exam results; jury duty is a simple lottery etc.  What I refuse to accept – makes me really angry – is that paying a fee can somehow substitute for waiting your turn – outrageous.  In USA, amusement parks, you can pay double the entry fee and avoid waiting in any queues – but public outcry has forced the installation of hidden entrances for queue jumpers.
            My daydreams include having access to a private jet – being whisked through security to the VIP lounge.  But a functioning democracy requires that citizens share a common life; when out and about, different backgrounds and social positions bumping up against one another; learning to abide and negotiate our differences – coming to care for the common good.  So I won’t be paying the £17.50 – and if you sail past us in the queue – I’ll be one of the common herd glaring after you resentfully.


The Tory Conference has left me feeling crabbit about politics; Ruth Davidson should speak to her agent about a next career in showbiz – drama queen; the hapless Kezia Dugdale makes it up as she goes along; Nicola Sturgeon has my sympathy – when to go for Indyref 2 – tough call. Seeing the Tories lined up together was chilling – I don’t believe Teresa May is now Teresa of Avila – too sudden. They will take us out of Europe and dismantle our social democracy and Scotland is powerless; I want to leave the Union now – but it’s looking more like a long haul. The words of William McIlvanney: “Scotland is in an intolerable position – we must never acclimatize to it – never.”


For those of us who feel passionate about communities getting a grip of their local economy – the spread of the Community Shares option is a great encouragement.  Since 2009, more than 100,000 people have invested £120 million of share capital in 400 community businesses across the UK – from local pubs to major renewable energy projects.  The Scottish operation – Community Shares Scotland – assisted with the purchase of Portpatrick harbour – a truly inspirational story featured in this Guardian piece.  Scotland’s land and empowerment legislation feed into the building momentum of the Community Shares movement.


After 40 years of building the best ‘early years’ provision in the world, Finland has one of the narrowest attainment gaps between rich and poor – one of the highest levels of child well-being.  In this piece, Sue Palmer, Chair of Upstarts, explains why the standardized assessments to be introduced in Scottish schools next year are not a good idea; a play based kindergarten stage for all three to seven year olds would do more to close the attainment gap.


It’s not a ‘sharing economy’ in the sense that I’ve got two coats, so I’ll give you one; it’s a concept that allows consumers to rent or share underutilised resources for an agreed price.  This shift is transforming whole business sectors like hospitality and travel – creating new business models.  Brands like Uber and Airbnb have eventually reached even my awareness – so I was ready for this ‘sharing economy’ summary (In 2014, Airbnb made 37 million bookings without owning a single room).


Many countries enjoy a culture in which trees and woodland play a very important and positive part – rural communities living with and harvesting wooded landscape.  The Forest Policy Group (FPG) is an independent think-tank which feeds new ideas into the debate about forestry in Scotland – ideas like more local ownership and small scale working.  FPG is hosting an important gathering on 11th November in the Birnam Arts Centre, Dunkeld; – looking at Scottish forestry practices that support and sustain local communities and economies – selected case studies.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Lesmahagow Development Trust, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Assist Social Capital CIC, Ideas for Ears, Cothrom Ltd, Colintraive & Glendaruel Development Trust, Pass IT On, Community Justice Scotland
EVENTS: Scottish Rural Parliament 2016, 8 Oct; New Rights, New Resources and Revenues 26 Oct; Free community shares training – Dundee, 15 Nov; Glasgow Soup Crowdfunding Dinner 17 Nov;
TENDERS: Digital Xtra Round 2 Competitive Grant – The Skills Development Scotland Co. Limited, Interim director (consultant) – Third Sector / Social Enterprise – Newmains Community Trust, Pipeline – Aberdeen City Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: As most folk are aware, Senscot is not hosting a Ceilidh this year. Instead, we are hosting an event at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh on Wednesday 23rd November – “Keep it local; Strength in numbers”. The event is being run in partnership with Social Firms Scotland, Community Enterprise and the Scottish Community Alliance – and will focus on collaborative working (between SENs and individual SEs) and the specific contribution community-based enterprises can make in delivering services locally. Keynote speakers will be attending from Italy and England and Lesley Riddoch will host a plenary session to round off the afternoon schedule. A drinks reception and dinner will follow later in the evening. Priority places to SEN members on a first come, first served basis. To book your place, see booking form anddraft programme.


Congratulations to Crisis Counselling which celebrates its 20th anniversary today with an event at the RBS Conference Centre at Gogarburn. Crisis, founded in 1996 by Jean Cumming, has provided support, guidance and counselling to over 40,000 individuals and families. As well as providing its service to people referred through statutory agencies, Crisis has also evolved into a successful social enterprise – securing contracts with employers from across the UK – including North Ayrshire Council; and Migrant Help UK. The Crisis mantra is ensuring support to local communities is available ‘when they need it – for as long as they need it’.


The Scottish Govt’s proposals to give parents and teachers more say in the governance of our schools is absolutely right and should be commended; the feedback from parents this week, that the consultation documents are ‘jargon laden’ and ‘impenetrable’, is disappointing and points to a deeper problem. All the professions use intentionally obscure language, partly to enhance their status (academics are the worst). But a consultation exercise – specifically intended to empower ordinary citizens – will, if it’s sincere, use ordinary language. Journalists have a better ‘ear’ than civil servants.


The ‘Soup’ phenomenon seems to be catching on in Scotland. The idea originated in Detroit – now celebrating its 5th year – and has more recently caught on over here with ‘Soups’ taking place in Edinburgh, Stirling and, next, in Inverness. The concept is about promoting community-based development through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun. Attendees pay a fiver and get soup and entertainment – but, most of all, they get to hear from ‘pitches’ from local projects – no video, no powerpoint etc, just words. At the end, folk vote for the idea they like best and all donations go to the winning pitch.


This week’s bulletin features a new venture that uniquely offers a wide range of activities to enjoy in your own home delivered by experts in their respective fields. Based in Argyll and Bute, Takeaway Creative is particularly suited for people over 60 who would like to learn new skills at their own pace and may have difficulties in getting access to local services. It is widely accepted that enjoying activities and hobbies can contribute to happiness, health and wellbeing. All Takeaway Creative’s practitioners are qualified and experienced in their field and have PVG clearance, public liability insurance and equipment to deliver the sessions. Activities range from games to languages; and from painting or art to bakery skills.


Michael Sandel, Prof. of Govt. at Harvard yooni, has written with wisdom about the ‘moral limits of markets’:


"A market economy is a tool – a valuable and effective tool – for organizing productive activity. A market society is a way of life in which market values seep into every aspect of human endeavour. It’s a place where social relations are made over in the image of the market…..And so, in the end, the question of markets is really a question about how we want to live together. Do we want a society where everything is up for sale? Or are there certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honour and money cannot buy?"


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