Senscot Bulletin: 08.11.19

Dear members and friends,

I visit sometimes with a pre-school toddler – from total dependence, she increasingly tries to exert power and control over herself and the world.  A teenage boy of my acquaintance has suddenly become unpredictable and impulsive – his search for a personal identity.  The field of Developmental Psychology suggests that we all pass through distinctive developmental stages as we grow and change through life; its primary theorist was Erik Erikson who described eight discrete stages – each with its own conflicts and resolutions.

Erikson looked at development across our entire lifespan – extending to people my age.  For ‘oldies’, he said, the key conflict arises from appraising our past lives – did I do okay – did the things I’m proud of outweigh those I regret – and what developmental options remain.  I’ve lost either the appetite or the ability for most things – but I don’t believe our spiritual capacities are diminished by the years – maybe enhanced.  Buddhist spiritualism appeals to me; I don’t aspire to any exalted state of enlightenment – just some calming of mental turbulence.

My prostate wakes me each morning between 4 and 5 am; after a strangulated pee, I sometimes get back to sleep – sometimes not.  Lying for two hours in limbo, neither awake nor asleep, can be very discouraging; brings home how far I am from any Buddhist ‘nirvana’.  The task of old age then? – that life, which wants to go on for ever, gradually reconciles to infirmity and to its own ending; Erikson said, to maintain “an informed and detached concern with life itself – even in the face of death itself”.


The UN Poverty expert, Philip Alston, reported this year that 14 million people in the UK live in poverty – and that 1.5 million experience destitution; he said that this is the result of deliberate, calculated, political decisions. Thanks to a new comprehensive study by Heriot Watt University called ‘The State of Hunger’ – we understand more this week about foodbanks – who uses them and why: a closer look at ‘destitution’. Brexit is a distraction – the real choice of December’s election is between a party which will create a safety net for those struggling – and a party which will remove it; it’s about compassion.


Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, this week, called for a review of third sector funding – as a matter of urgency. A new report has warned that existing arrangements put smaller organisations at a disadvantage – and that the impact of one-year funding deals present significant difficulties for organisations both in terms of delivering projects and of maintaining staff. This is an old, old chestnut to anyone working in the sector. With luck, we’ll now see some movement on these issues.


Youthlink Scotland, the national agency, launched this week its #InvestinYouthWork Campaign. They estimate that £11m has been lost from Youth Services in the past three years alone. It can’t be co-incidental that we now see rises in youth stress: offending, mental illness, substance abuse. See Press Release.


The impact of austerity, on the work of our third sector will vary across the UK – even across Scotland’s Councils. This report, circulated by The Centre for Welfare Reform, covers the Gateshead and Newcastle areas – an interesting snapshot of their current issues, aspirations and challenges.


South Africa’s victory in the World Cup Final was one of the most exciting rugby games I’ve watched; the backstory, of Nelson Mandela uniting the country behind the Boks in 1995, gives it extra significance. This is the reaction of John Carlin (author of the book, filmed as Invictus). Siya Kolisi – my new hero.


My favourite Buddhist teacher is Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh – known as Thay, (their word for teacher); browse Thay’s wise quotations.

“From time to time, sit close to the one you love, hold his or her hand, and ask, ‘Darling, do I understand you enough? Or am I making you suffer? Please tell me so that I can learn to love you properly. I don’t want to make you suffer, and if I do so because of my ignorance, please tell me so that I can love you better, so that you can be happy’ If you say this in a voice that communicates your real openness to understand, the other person may cry.”

Brexit, as our sector is well aware, will mean the UK will no longer receive European Structural Funds – with the existing Programme being worth £780m in Scotland. In response, Scottish Govt is conducting a consultation to seek views on how any replacement funding vehicle could best meet the needs of our communities – closing date of 12th Feb 2020. Countless social enterprises and third sector organisations have benefitted from these Programmes for over 40 years. First set up to “invest in job creation and a sustainable and healthy European economy and environment.”– access to these funds has made an invaluable contribution to mitigating the disparities that exist in communities across the country. Senscot will be consulting with others in our sector with a view to submitting a joint response to the consultation.

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

Overnight places for our SE Conference – 25th/26th Nov – are now FULL UP. A ‘waiting list’ is now open – if you’d like to put your name down, email . Day Delegate places are still available.


To some, the term ‘social impact’ is the obvious intention or outcome for any social enterprise. However, its measurement has become an increasing issue for many social enterprises – as they seek to evidence and articulate the value of their work to funders and/or investors. Recent research by the London School of Economics raises a number of issues that will be familiar to many in the sector – and questions if current social impact models can truly measure the effectiveness of a social enterprise.


Over recent months, our series of local gatherings have been taking place with a view to collating feedback from frontline SEs on the strengths and weaknesses of the current SE Action Plan – and what could/should be the priorities for the next Action Plan – due in April 2020. This feedback, from around 15 events involving up to 500 SEs, is being complemented by a short survey from Social Value Lab. The Survey asks a number of questions on the three key priority areas within the Action Plan – including a short section on core functions for a national SE representative body. Closing date for the survey is Friday 29th November 2019.


Senscot Legal (SL), this week, welcomed Karina Macleod back from maternity leave. However, sadly, Kirsty Noble is moving on to a new post with Citizens’ Advice Scotland. We wish Kirsty all the best in her new role – and thank her for her invaluable contribution over the last four years. The Senscot Legal team, for now, is made up of Karina and, of course, Annie Morris. With this being Trustees’ Week, it is worth reminding folk that Senscot Legal produced the well-received ‘Governance Guiding Principles for Social Enterprises’ last year. If you or your organisation would like to find out more, please contact Karina.


Frontline News: The SE in Glasgow 2019 Report, produced by Glasgow SEN and Social Value Lab, was launched in the city last Friday. The figures reveal some interesting contrasts with the national picture:

Edinburgh SE will be launching their own SE 2019 Report with a ‘Breakfast with Impact’ event on 4th Dec:

WLSEN is holding its AGM at Craigsfarm in Livingston on Thursday 5th Dec. See full details.

Reminder: CRNS Annual Conference takes place on Wed, 13th November at the Radisson Blue in Glasgow.


This week’s bulletin profiles an Aberdeen SEN member that is one of the core cultural organisations in the city. Station House Media Unit (SHMU), set up in 2003, has played a leading role in the development in community media in Scotland. Specifically, it supports resident in the seven regeneration areas in Aberdeen in radio and video production, traditional and on-line publications, music production and digital inclusion. SHMU also supports other disadvantaged communities, both geographic and communities of interest, with an employability and training arm, and a programme for offenders, both pre and post release.