Senscot Bulletin: 08.04.16

Dear members and friends,


            An editorial in the Observer this week entitled, “The threatened local café tells a bigger story of lost values”; It refers to the lease of a locally loved London café – operated by the same Italian family for 33 years – being transferred by the Council to a ‘top end’ corporate chain; local people are organising resistance. Probably from my ‘birth tribe’ (café owners) – I think I have always been aware of how a ‘serious’ café can enhance community life – proud food and service – a meeting place which celebrates us.
            I recently enjoyed an excellent lunch (smoked haddock) at Café Gandolfi in Glasgow’s Merchant City; Tim Stead’s iconic furniture; the framed photographs, the stained glass panels; for 30 years, a much loved urban Café. And last week someone brought me to the Smile Café on Queen Margaret Drive – a tiny gem of a place – where an Italian woman who loves her work made me a totally original and joyous sandwich. My ‘gang hut’ of choice, a short drive from where I live, is called Craigie’s – a Farm Café which I’ve frequented for years; when you use a place often enough – get to know everyone – you feel a sense of belonging.
            Giant Tescos have replaced our local shops; giant Sercos are replacing community groups delivering services; what the Observer editorial infers is that your local café will come to be replaced by a Burger King (or the like) with generous car parking. Politicians say this is free market economics – that its dominance is inevitable.


In his business dealings I have always considered Donald Trump a spiv – said as much in this column when our Govt was courting his ‘investment’ in Scotland – granting outrageous concessions. I feel the same unease with the ‘understanding’ this week between our Govt and a Chinese Company mired in business sleaze. It would be easy to conclude, from the Panama papers (still unfolding), that ethical players in international finance are rare – but that is reason to be more careful. Norway has made it clear that these people are chancers – blackballed them; is the message that Scotland can’t afford to be so choosy?


Pessimistic voices in Scotland argue that devolution has made little difference – that neither new powers nor independence will result in a different society – Mark Stephens says different. As Professor of Public Policy at Heriot Watt, he recently presented an overview of Scottish Housing Policy to a London audience: “They appeared to think I had arrived from planet Zog”. In areas like support for social housing, rights of the homeless, bedroom tax, security of private tenancies, rent regulation, right to buy etc – Scotland and England move in opposite directions – very different visions of society. It is not only in the housing sector – there are other examples; the longer the Tories survive in England – Scotland will become increasingly different.


The Bama Companies in Tulsa, Oklahoma employ 1000 people making biscuits for McDonald’s and dough for Pizza Hut; they make it a practice to hire people leaving prison but, after 3 months, 8 out of 10 leave. So they have decided to open a caring centre to help employees to overcome the challenges of ‘maintaining employment’; I’m sure some will see this as ‘caring capitalism’ but, as a glimpse of the future, it leaves me cold. It’s possible that the factory experience is so soul-destroying that 3 months should be the maximum allowed.


The Notre Dame Centre in Glasgow, as part of a suite of children’s psychological services, provided highly regarded play therapy training; the withdrawal of this course in 2007 has resulted in a shortage of therapists. Great to hear that the With Kids charity, in collaboration with Queen Margaret University, now invite applications for a brand new play therapy training course: the fully accredited, 3 year MSc will run from Glasgow in September. See more
George Robertson’s son, Malcolm married John Smith’s daughter Jane; I enjoyed his reflections on the continuing influence of Iona and Islay on their family; I’m sure he speaks for many Scots families.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: The Church of Scotland, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Senscot, Greener Kirkcaldy, Dundee SEN, Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, WHALE Arts, Fusion Bites, Impact Business Leaders
EVENTS: Book Giveaway Party, 23 Apr; The Golden Ticket, 23 Apr; Everyday Lives and Kinder Communities, 26 Arp; Meet A Mentor for Women, 4 May; Dementia Awareness Week Nat Conf. 16, 3 Jun;
TENDERS: Freelance Evaluator – Youth Music Initiative, Specialist Sensory Impairment Service for Perth and Kinross Residents, Skate Park at Dalgety Bay – Fife Council, Provision of Tenancy Support Services – Argyll and Bute Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Over the last 18 months, Village SOS has successfully supported 14 community projects in Scotland – with a further 17 currently receiving ongoing support. This support, in the main, comes via Rocket Science and Forth Sector Development, with many coming to completion over the next few weeks. The Village SOS programme offers 3 or 6 day mentoring packages as well as 3 days free consultancy to new, developing or existing community projects that benefit residents in rural communities across Scotland, Some examples of projects that have participated in the programme include Nigg and Shandwick Community Council; Garrison House; and Glasgow-based charity, the Advisory Group. If you’d be interested in accessing the Village SOS programme, see details as well as some recent case studies. The programme runs until 31st August 2016.


“Being able to respond to music – the first sense in the foetus and the last to go at the end of life – is the one thing that dementia cannot destroy”. This statement is from the website of a charity called Playlist for Life founded by Sally Magnusson in 2013; they work to bring benefits of personally meaningful music in dementia care to as many people as possible. The website includes the personal playlist (5 items) of a dozen staff and trustees; it occurs to me how intimate (revealing) such lists are – with a power beyond words.


Couple of events looming up over the coming months that are worth noting. On 24th June at Norton Park in Edinburgh, Community Enterprise will be hosting an event that will focus on ‘celebrating’ community-led enterprise. The event will consider the challenges faced by organisations operating in local communities – where it’s not about growth or scale but about trying to improve services to the communities which they serve. As the SE Census shows the vast majority of social/community enterprises in Scotland fall into this category. There will be a nominal charge to attend. The other event (21st June in Perth) sees Holyrood Magazine dip its toes into the SE scene with its inaugural Social Enterprise Summit. This one will set you back £180 to attend.


Senscot is currently recruiting for a new SE & Sport Co-ordinator. Closing date for applications is Monday 18th April – with interviews scheduled for w/c 25th April. See further details & application form


Here’s the latest in Alan Kay’s series of blogs – this time looking at the principles of social impact, and more particularly, social accounting from a historical perspective. Interestingly, in light of the particular focus on social impact from some quarters, the original principles did not include measurability. It was recognised, then as now, that many social aims/objectives are not, certainly in the short term, easily measured.


This week’s bulletin profiles a community-led social enterprise in the North East providing a range of services and facilities for the local community and visitors alike. Peterhead Projects Ltd was established in 2009 to initiate new projects for the community that would be self-sustainable – with all income generated being re-invested in the local community. They are always on the lookout for new ideas and initiatives that can be undertaken both in Peterhead as well as the wider Buchan community. Current enterprises that are operational include 2ReUse Recycling, the Lido Caravan Park, the Buchan Meadows Community Woodland project as well as a number of other community regeneration initiatives.


This is a quote from ‘Ill Fares the Land’ by the late Tony Judt.

 "We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them. The materialistic and selfish quality of contemporary life is not inherent in the human condition. Much of what appears ‘natural’ today dates from the 1980s: the obsession with wealth creation, the cult of privatization and the private sector, the growing disparities of rich and poor. And above all, the rhetoric which accompanies these: uncritical admiration for unfettered markets, disdain for the public sector, the delusion of endless growth. We cannot go on living like this.” 


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