Senscot Bulletin: 08.12.17

Dear members and friends,
I’m swept up just now in Philip Pullman’s latest novel, ‘La Belle Sauvage’; surprised again by the sheer power of his ‘children’s’ books – which include all manner of magic and strange goings on. Our childhood memories and our imaginings lie deeply buried in the same place – intermingled; I’d forgotten how porous that border is: the ease with which I can summon monsters – find hidden treasure.

The immediate appeal of these fairy tales is their uncomplicated story-ness; no exploration here of psychological depth – of complex feelings; minimal background /context – then dive in; cardboard cut-out characters – doing ever more astonishing deeds – again and again…. ‘In one bound, he was free! The other, equally powerful, appeal has to do with justice; children have a profound belief that things must be fair, so these stories take place in a moral universe that is right and just: where good people are rewarded – and bad people punished. This ‘imagined’ world, has much to commend it – ‘it restoreth my soul’.

The assumption, that time and space were regular and linear was entrenched in the orthodoxy of science; Albert Einstein’s ‘Relativity’ breakthrough came when he dared ‘imagine’ beyond the ‘known’. The same Einstein later remarked: ‘If you want your children to be intelligent – read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent – read them more fairy tales!’ Einstein believed that ‘the most beautiful and deepest experience a person can have is the sense of the mysterious – revealed in the little we can comprehend of the universe’. Philip Pullman certainly does mysterious.



The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported this week that austerity continues to drive UK citizens into poverty; what level of inequality, we ask, will be too much for voters to bear – how bad will it have to get? A significant number of Brits blame poverty on the moral or character failings of poor people. Programmes like Benefits Street intentionally feed this distortion – presenting ‘handouts’ as a ‘moral hazard’ – corrupting work incentives. Stirring this animosity between people who are struggling prevents them organising together for change.  Good piece by Polly Toynbee – tracing the generosity of spirit which inspired our welfare system – ‘all in it together’; and how far our economic choices have taken us from the dignity of that.



Our third sector sits in a mainstream culture of capitalism – alongside dissonant values, including expansionism; the moneylenders in particular keep banging-on about growth and ‘replication’. But what outsiders don’t understand – is that the value of a small community enterprise, lies with the relationships it holds with local people. Elements of its successful approach may be replicable – but only by a dedicated group of people – ‘in relationship’ with their own locality. This excellent article discusses a ‘network’ model – of affiliated agencies with similar aims; mutually supported independence instead of branch management.



Great to see the resurgence of our rugby team – measured again alongside the world elite again; but Scotland has another – lesser known – world class team, in Police Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). In 2005, the year the unit was formed, a UN report concluded that Scotland was the most violent country in the developed world; this year however – of the 35 youngsters killed with knives in the UK – not one has been in Scotland. Without getting carried away – this recent Guardian piece identifies some of the key elements of a significant Scottish success story – widely copied.



Senscot is a supporter of the Ferret’s investigative journalism – they check their facts and avoid sensationalism – solid; Rob Edwards in particular has been an environmental campaigner for as long as I can remember. In this forthright piece, he questions the impartiality of Scotland’s Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) – on the grounds that board members and senior staff are frequently wined and dined by the very companies which are the worst polluters: fish farming, whisky, power industries etc. The culture of regulation has changed – it’s time for Sepa to stop accepting freebies – at the very least, it’s ‘tacky’.



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

JOBS: The Ballantrae Trust, Social Enterprise Academy, Rebuild, Leith Community Crop on Pots

EVENTS: Just Enterprise: Costing & Pricing, 11 Dec; Facilitation Training – Edinburgh, 06 Feb; Social Entrepreneurship, Youth & Vocational Education Forum, 27 Mar.

TENDERS: Provision of Nursery Services – Robert Gordon University, CARES Community Engagement Framework – Energy Saving Trust Ltd, Adult Care Services for High Complex Needs – South Lanarkshire Council. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.



The SENs Weekly Update: The SE conference 2017 is currently in its second day – with over 140 delegates from across the country. Yesterday morning saw some lively discussion around support for start-up enterprises; the role of SENs; and the pros and cons of adopting Buy Social in Scotland – followed by ‘showcases’ from 5 SEN members. The afternoon session covered a series of workshops and culminated with a particularly impressive round of Dragons’ Den pitches. Lingo Flamingo and Weekday Wow Factor shared the £5,000 top prize with Glasgow Piano Project, Kibbleworks and Galgael in a split Dragons decision. Lingo Flamingo and Weekday Wow Factor also walked away with the Audience Prize, capping a great night for the partnership. Today’s session sees some further ‘showcasing’ of the work of another five SEN members and their work in addressing issues around dementia. The day ends with an open session on ‘failure’ – looking at creating a more supportive and collaborative environment for fellow social enterprises. More next week.



At yesterday’s SE Conference, SCRT launched its first Community Bond – the SEN Loan Fund – that will look to provide micro; unsecured; low cost and patient loans to SEN members. The target for the Fund is £100k and, already, there has been a good level of interest. Senscot has been involved in the development of SCRT since the start with one of the key objectives being to provide small, accessible loans to frontline social enterprises – by the sector, for the sector. We hope that the SE community will be able demonstrate its support for this initiative. Bonds themselves are available from £50 for a single bond – repayable upon maturity. For more info’ on the Loan Fund and how to invest, email See Application Form.



The so-called ‘war on drugs’ was lost irrevocably years ago; its failure to grapple with the growing proliferation of legal, synthetic alternatives is just one symptom of its inefficacy. Consequently, our obsolete drug laws penalise the most vulnerable in society during their darkest hour – punishing users for the wider failings of society. Portugal’s decriminalisation of drugs in 2001 has been widely-hailed as an overwhelming success; its response to addiction is rooted in communities – drug abuse is a health, not a justice, issue. The political establishment in this country, however, has neither the willpower nor the noble long-termism required to ever put something like this into place. Watch this twenty-minute film on Portugal’s drug laws.



Last month, Scottish Govt announced its plans to establish a publicly-owned Scottish Energy Company – aimed at driving down soaring energy costs – and available to customers across all of Scotland. Scottish Govt is not alone in looking to provide fairness for energy customers. Back in 2015, this bulletin featured the launch of  Our Power Energy – set up by some of our largest Housing Associations to address fuel poverty. Our Power was kickstarted with £2.5m from Scottish Govt and £1m from SIS – and initially set up to operate on a non-profit distribution basis. It intends to be providing heat and power to 200,000 tenants across Scotland by 2020 – and currently has a Bond Offer available – looking to raise £4.5m. Looks like they are 60% of the way there –  with still three weeks to go.



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in Edinburgh, that is taking a new approach to supporting the work of our NHS through preventative lifestyle interventions. Health by Science is a community interest company that focuses on personal training and physiotherapy with all profits being directed towards subsidising the cost of working one-to-one with Stroke Survivor training for those who have been discharged from the NHS but are still amenable to rehabilitation. Through their work they collect data and conduct research on sustainable behaviour change using sustainable lifestyle interventions. They will be tracking the progress of stroke survivors over the next six months and sharing their stories with the intention of helping others facing recovery from debilitating conditions.



I wish I’d learned earlier the things that really matter in life – so much wasted time. Quote from Kent Neburn’s ‘Small Graces’:


“We must learn to value the small as well as the great…. Confucius told his followers, ‘Bring peace to the old, have trust in your friends, and cherish the young.’  Do we really need much more than this? To honor the dawn. To visit a garden. To talk to a friend. To contemplate a cloud. To cherish a meal. To bow our heads before the mystery of the day. Are these not enough? The world we shape is the world we touch — with our words, our actions, our dreams. If we should be so lucky as to touch the lives of many, so be it. But if our lot is no more than the setting of a table, or the tending of a garden, or showing a child a path in a wood, our lives are no less worthy….  Sometimes, it seems, we ask too much. Sometimes we forget that the small graces are enough.”


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210