Senscot Bulletin: 08.06.18

Dear members and friends,

Mental illness among the young is a growing concern for health authorities – such that more attention is, at last, being given to the potential harm of social media. Speaking after a spate of suicides – the head of Bristol University, Dr Hugh Brady – commented last week: ‘as a parent, as a doctor and as a vice chancellor – I worry about the sheer volume of sensory input young people are receiving, every minute of the day; and the perfectionism – you’re not allowed a bad day on social media’. Simon Cowell is the latest ‘celeb’ to join the growing ‘offline movement’ – telling the Mail on Sunday, that he has not used his phone for ten months. Cowell’s reasons are explicitly about quality of life: ‘being phoneless is a strange experience – but it has definitely been good for my mental health’.

We humans are born, biologically pre-programmed to form relationships, which will likely come to define our lives. ‘Attachment theory’ tells us, that the deep emotional bond that connected us to our mother (carer) acts as a prototype for all future social relationships. (scary). When I observe young people with phones – I realise that my generation had no parallel ‘fixated’ experience – so we don’t ‘get’ this obsessive need for external ‘validation’. We owe our children protection from addictive behaviours which could harm them; interacting with phones, rather than actual people, is likely to have long term consequences that we can’t yet predict. Voices are speaking out – that youngsters today are more stressed; we need to better understand why.



On Tuesday, during an expected marathon session, the House of Commons will vote on 15 House of Lords amendments to the EU withdrawal bill. It is possible, even probable, that parliament will support a customs union and frictionless Irish border – giving Brexit a far softer shape; Tuesday is a crunch moment for the injection of some sanity, into two years of chaos. One can’t help wondering, if the growing anxiety of our young people stems from the addictive demands of social media, or irrational and unstable political leadership. Deluded Brexiteers and the impetuous Mr Trump afford ample reasons to worry.



Already a fan of Hugh Grant, I was further impressed by his performance in a Very English Scandal – at once charming and villainous. This altogether excellent offering from the BBC has us all discussing this week – whether the posh, entitled, ruling class could still command the same level of cover-up from the establishment. I argue that they could not – that our level of deference to the class system has thankfully diminished; but others argue that I’m naive – that there are still sections of our society, particularly in England, where power continues to be regulated by the old school tie – or the nod of the mega rich.



The American poet, Max Ehrman (1872-1945), wrote in a timeless, old fashioned style which calms me. Like his more famous Desiderata – Reflexions is a poem about how life should be lived; this is how it ends:


“Let me not follow the clamour of the world, but walk calmly in my path. Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope. And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life, and for time’s olden memories that are good and sweet; and may the evening’s twilight find me gentle still”.

On Wednesday this week, Scottish Govt hosted the third Social Enterprise Reference Group meeting in Perth – previous meetings being held in June 2017 and December 2017 – since the publication of the SE Action Plan in April 2017. The meeting heard updates on specific initiatives being supported through the Action Plan – Enterprise Accelerator; Power Up Scotland; and Community Bonds. It was also an opportunity to share feedback from the SE Reference Sub-Group meeting in March – hosted jointly by Senscot; Scottish Community Alliance and Social Firms Scotland – and involving membership-led organisations and frontline social enterprises. The main discussion topic at this Wednesday’s meeting was around social investment – with Alastair Davies (SIS) giving an overview of the Social Growth Fund (£8m) which is up for renewal next year. Our own SE Sub-Group – which will now convene quarterly – meets again on 27th June in Edinburgh – when this topic will be explored in more depth – looking at how the next ‘version’ of the Growth Fund can best serve our sector in Scotland. With a review of SE Intermediaries due this year as part of the Action Plan, we will also be seeking views on how the existing SE Intermediary infrastructure (over 10 years old) could or should be evolving to meet current needs of our sector.

Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding

Interesting report, this week, on the ‘non-profit’ sector in the US – citing it as the third biggest employer in the country – employing over 12 million folk. Like our own SE community in Scotland, the US non-profit sector is sustained by a combination of Govt funding and trading income. It also suggests that its contribution in providing employment is not only the best measure of its economic impact – but also of its social impact. Not entirely unrelated is an article in this week’s TFN on the contribution of the Social Care sector to the Scottish economy.



Frontline News: Couple of pieces of news from SEN members this week. First up is West Lothian SEN member, the Larder announcing the opening of their new venture – a café that will be at the heart of the new village of Calderwood in West Lothian. Second up is Health SEN member, Crisis Counselling, who heard this week that they are the 2018 winners of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. And third up, DTA Scotland has now opened up bookings for their 2018 Conference in Aberdeen – on the 2nd and 3rd September –  with the title; ‘Development Trusts – Driving Positive Change in Communities!’.



In April, we featured this extraordinary 13 min video – showing how practising a simple meditation technique has transformed the lives of both inmates and staff at one of Mexico’s most violent prisons. The full film, ‘A Mindful Choice’, screened at Edinburgh’s Summerhall , was a sell-out. Summerhall is showing it again on Thursday,14th June at 7pm. If interested, folk are advised to book ahead to avoid missing out.



In September, the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) will be held in Edinburgh – 10 years after the inaugural event was held in the city. Since then, the event has been to all corners of the globe. The Programme for this year’s event became available this morning – and, amongst a range of speakers, will include Michael Sheen, the actor and activist, as one of the keynotes. We hope as many frontline Scottish social enterprises as possible will be able to attend. To get folk in the mood, here’s a blog from Josiah Lockhart from Firstport.



This week’s bulletin profiles a professional music training and production company, based in Glasgow, which is also the largest employer of disabled musicians in Scotland. Limelight Music was setup over 25 years ago and collaborates with a range of partners that include local authorities, schools, musicians, music producers and mainstream theatre companies to create new projects in education and in the entertainment industries. Limelight provides music training sessions for over 1200 school pupils and 30 disabled adults each year. Over half of its 16 strong workshop tutors and leaders are skilled and talented disabled musicians.