Senscot Bulletin: 08.05.20

This Sunday, May 10th, is my 80th birthday, but being so old hasn’t fully dawned on me yet: the psyche likes to pretend it will endure for ever.  In normal circumstances, there would be a restaurant lunch party for about 20 friends and family; individual conversations with each person, I would enjoy – but everyone together is too much for me these days: lockdown has rescued me.For our society/economy to function well, its three separate ‘systems’ need to be kept in balance: the private, the public and the third or community sectors; I reflected this week that I’ve worked in each.  I left school at 15 for the family business (chip shop) – spent subsequent years in the private sector – but never convinced of the ‘primacy’ of money, it was an ill-fit.  The idea of ‘public service’ appealed – so I tried Local Govt. – the bureaucracy and paternalism wasn’t my vibe.  It was only when I became a community worker, that I felt I’d arrived where I belong; alongside local communities – strengthening democracy from the bottom up – being part of ‘empowerment’ is a special privilege.  I came to love my work – for fifty years.At the end of June (8 more bulletins) I’m leaving Senscot as it morphs into a new entity with Social Firms Scotland; this exciting ‘risorgimento’ deserves a clean start – removed from my weekly slaverings.  So I’m looking for a new site to host my blog – one with compatible interests and values – and I invite readers’ suggestions (  I wonder if this is my psyche pretending it will endure for ever.


The New Statesman carried a major article this week, where 12 top economists warn the UK not to revert to austerity after the Covid 19 crisis.  There are essential community needs – transport, health, education, social housing – which should never be run down; rather, artificial borrowing rules should be scrapped.  A shorter piece in The Conversation, proposes that a one-off tax on wealth, may prove the fairest way of paying down the UK cost of the pandemic (a predicted £273 billion by the end of 2020).  I always gave Thomas Piketty’s call for a wealth tax little chance – but we now need to learn to unlearn previous assumptions.


Where I live, there has been a marked increase in voluntary efforts to support citizen’s urgent needs; solidarity rather than charity – ‘In crisis, social capital rises.’  Caitlin Logan in Bella Caledonia takes a look at six mutual aid and support programmes across Scotland which typify the increased activity.


Alan Rusbridger was 20 years editor of the Guardian; he regards the current crisis as a decisive moment on how citizens think of mainstream news: “It was only a couple of months ago that Boris Johnson’s key advisers were pushing to replace the BBC with Fox News equivalents.”  Democracy under threat.


About 4.2 billion people (54% of the global population) were in lockdown at the end of April; this reduced CO2 emissions to levels of 10 years ago.  Past crises led to immediate rebounds of CO2 emissions – will we do it differently this time, cleaner energy – this is the story in data from Yes Magazine.


The latest Wellbeing Survey confirms that we sense all around us high levels of anxiety in the general population; the most widespread reason is probably the direct effect of the boredom and loneliness of lockdown. An interesting statistical survey of how people react, has identified three main clusters within the population which they call – the Accepting; the Suffering; and the Resisting.


In the same way that one really has to accept the weather, one has to accept how one feels about life sometimes, “Today is a really crap day,” is a perfectly realistic approach. It’s all about finding a kind of mental umbrella. “Hey-ho, it’s raining inside; it isn’t my fault and there’s nothing I can do about it, but sit it out. But the sun may well come out tomorrow, and when it does I shall take full advantage.” – Stephen Fry.

“The largest part of what we call ‘personality’ is determined by how we’ve opted to defend ourselves against anxiety and sadness.” – Alain de Botton.

As we mentioned last week, yesterday we launched Social Enterprise Reset Week – which will take place next week – a series of 24 separate conversations with community-based social enterprises to determine their support and funding requirements over the medium to longer-term.  These discussions will form the basis of a wider recovery plan for the sector involving a range of partners from across the social enterprise and community sectors. The week itself will include virtual focus groups where SEs can put forward challenges, issues and opportunities – in discussion with their peers. Already, some key themes have been emerging around preparing for continued social distancing measures and reconfiguring spaces and services in light of this. See our full calendar of events and activities taking place including booking information. You can also get involved on twitter by following @Senscot using #SocEntReset

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

This week, Senscot put its name to this letter to our First Minister and all Cabinet Secretaries. Together with another 22 local and national membership-led organisations – representing 1000s of social and community enterprises across Scotland – the letter states our joint belief that the impending SE Action Plan (2020-23) be re-visited in light of the current crisis and the needs of the sector moving forward. COVID 19 has brought about a new appreciation of what is important and valued in society and the reliance we all have on our local communities.  The response to the virus has demonstrated the true value of ‘localism in action’ with community-based social enterprises providing crucial services and a lifeline in their local communities. Our letter calls for a revised ’Plan’ focused on recovery. These rather startling figures on the crisis’ projected impact on the labour market only reinforces the importance of frontline organisations, not only in helping to shape this ‘Recovery Plan’ – but, as stated above, the critical role it can play in helping to deliver it.————————————We came across this article this week from Nick Addington (Chief Executive of William Grant Foundation and Community Enterprise Board member) – that many readers will find useful. Nick explores the impact of Covid19 on civil society organisations – breaking it down into three phases – Reaction and Response; Adapt and Survive; and Recovery and Resilience – and offering some very helpful thoughts and considerations.


One of the most impressive and successful initiatives promoting social enterprise over the last decade in Scotland has been the SE Academy’s Schools Programme – which has engaged with over 1000 schools across Scotland. In response to the current crisis, they have developed a series of online activities – very much linked to taking action when the lock-down ends – both in terms of community and enterprise. These activities include the Community Champion Challenge; Home Learning – What is Social Enterprise?; and their online CPD programme – offering a professional development opportunity for teachers.


Frontline News: Scottish Communities Finance is offering interest-free loans of £3-5k to SEN members via  The SEN Bridging Loan . Turn around in about 5 days. If interested, contact

GCVS is hosting a Poverty and post COVID 19 Planning session next on 14th  May – between 11.30-13.30pm. The session is for charities, social enterprises and community groups based in Glasgow.

Community Enterprise, this week, has produced the first edition of its new E-Magazine – that will share inspiring stories; highlight support out there; and shine a light on the people working behind the scenes:

Sport SEN Newsletter now available – with a range of stories covering virtual peer-to-peer support; funding and other support available; and info on what members’ are up to. For info, contact


This week’s bulletin continues our focus on the work of locally-based social enterprises and how they are responding to the current crisis in supporting their local communities. The ‘In crisis, social capital rises’ story (see above) cites six examples of communities across Scotland and how they are supporting the local community at this time. One example is Bridgend Farmhouse in Edinburgh. In normal times, the farmhouse operates as a community hub for learning, eating and exercise. However, over the last few week, they quickly adopted a new approach – to meeting an urgent need for food – both among people who had been in food poverty before the crisis, and those who were pushed into poverty or isolation as a result of it. They are now delivering 300 meals a day – and, by this week, had delivered 10,000 meals in total, across South Edinburgh. Bridgend Farmhouse is also running their Big Bike Revival Scheme for Key Workers