Senscot Bulletin: 09.09.16

Dear members and friends,

Apart from holiday arrangements, I don’t shop online – probably an age thing; but if folk are at work, their parcels are left with me – so I know how widespread it is.  Chatting on my doorstep with the delivery guys, I’m aware that this is not a happy or stable workforce; precarious sessional work is the norm – without normal benefits like sick pay, pensions, etc.  This is often referred to as the ‘gig economy’: the working week defined in a list of one-off, piece-work ‘gigs’.
            Read recently that nearly all job growth in the USA since 2007 has been in this gig economy – now an estimated 40% of all USA employment. The main driver is digital capitalism, displacing risk on to a disempowered workforce; but there are also growing numbers of people who no longer want the inflexibility of a 9-5 job.  They have young children or other caring responsibilities; reject the rat race for a quieter life; opt to live in a rural community – grow vegetables.  Flexible, part time work suits more and more lifestyles.
            Amazon and the like are here to stay – their drive for profits will continue to be at the expense of workers – the gig economy set to grow.  But the technologies that undermine old kinds of employment, also enable new kinds of empowerment.  Will Hutton speculates in this column how to build the resistance.  We Scots are less overwhelmed than Americans by the forces of Capitalism; most of us still believe there’s ‘another way’; many of us still work at it.


The former social worker Lesley Bate – who is being blamed for the tragic death of Liam Fee – may or may not be culpable; but for me the main point here is that the Scottish child protection system, within which she operated, is fundamentally unfit for purpose – and no one knows what to do about it (another review is underway).  From my own direct experience – I would appeal for the availability of clinical supervision for all front line workers.  I use the term ‘clinical supervision’ – as distinct from managerial supervision – to describe a process intended to protect workers, in human services organisations, from burn out – through the regular review of their work and personal development.  I believe such ‘supervision’ to be an ethical imperative – and that without it Scotland’s child protection is unsafe.


The SNP promised this week that if they take control of Glasgow Council – they will allocate £100m to some vague participatory budgeting exercise.  This sounds like ‘back of a fag packet’ populism with scant consideration of implementation; this administration’s use of the term ‘empowerment’ becomes increasingly degraded – meaningless.  I’ll believe that the SNP are serious about empowering the Scottish people when the produce plans for the comprehensive re-organisation of our local govt; plans which include a missing tier, local enough for citizens to engage with and use.


Journalist Iain Macwhirter thinks that the timing of the next indy referendum is the biggest decision Nicola Sturgeon will ever make – it’s certainly a difficult call.  Brexit only confirmed that Scotland and England are drifting apart; the Tory entrenchment will accelerate this drift – until it becomes obvious that a legal separation is best for both partners; Macwhirter rehearses all the arguments but is clearly undecided as to ‘when’.  I’m with the ‘ca’canny’ brigade – just let it play out – there’s no hurry.


When I was young I fancied myself at ‘Scrabble’ – but then I encountered better players and realised I’m mediocre.  Notice this week that a 37-year-old Brit called Brett Smitherain is the new world Scrabble champion; his ‘coup de grace’ was the word ‘braconid’ (a parasite wasp) which scored 176 points.

In spite of their winter lasting eight months – Denmark regularly measures as one of the world’s happiest countries; some insight to this is offered by the Danish term ‘Hygge’ (pronounced hue guh). No single word translates Hygge, but this year no less than nine (!!) books have tried to capture its essence; it implies turning away from high end consumerism for simpler everyday things; it’s about being kind to yourself; a relaxing evening with friends by the home-fire; indulgent good food – cosy candlelight. We Scots could learn from the ‘mental health’ which this term conveys.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Voluntary Action Fund, Glasgow Social Enterprise Network, Development Trusts Association Scotland, Resonate Together,
EVENTS: The People’s Parish, 10 Sep; The Scottish Land Reform Conference 2016 – What Next for Land Reform?, 23 Sep; "Beyond the Rainbow", 30 Sep; Scottish Rural Parliament 2016, 8 Oct;
TENDERS: Recycling and Waste Uplift Contract – Scottish Canals; Quality Fabric Supplier; Provision of information and support for the Global Business Services sector in Scotland; Play schemes for Disabled Children and Young People – The City of Edinburgh Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  This week’s CEIS Conference saw the formal launch of Scotland’s International SE Strategy. Over 200 folk gathered at the Radisson Blu in Glasgow – including strong delegations from Canada, Australia, Korea, Thailand and other parts of the UK, to hear Cabinet Secretary, Angela Constance, formally launch the International SE Strategy – Internationalising Social Enterprise – as well as reflect on the forthcoming SE Strategy for Scotland. The Cabinet Secretary reiterated the Govt’s support for social enterprise and the key contribution it makes in communities across the country. See full programme and delegates’ list.


The 2nd John Pearce Lecture takes place on Monday 3rd October at the Deeprose Lecture Theatre on Glasgow Caley Campus. This year’s lecture will be given by Pauline Graham (CEO of Social Firms Scotland). Pauline will give her reflections and perspective on past and current issues affecting the social enterprise sector in Scotland. With the impending SE Strategy for Scotland – due for publication in the autumn – the role and contribution of social enterprise to communities across Scotland has never been more topical. The event is free – see registration form – and it would great to see a strong turnout from across the sector.


Senscot attended an event this week in Glasgow. The event, titled ‘Re-thinking Social Investment in Scotland’, was hosted by Matt Fountain (Freedom Bakery) and Flip Finance. 20 or so folk from across the SE and social finance communities talked through some of the issues existing in SEs and social entrepreneurs accessing social investment. Amongst the general and familiar conclusions – more affordable rates, smaller loans, patient capital –  a couple stood out: an awareness of differing ideologies around social investment; and the need for social enterprises/entrepreneurs and their representative bodies to have greater influence in the shaping appropriate financial products. For more on the social investment front, here’s SCRT’s August bulletin.


DTA Scotland held another successful event last weekend at the Westerwood, near Cumbernauld. Over 200 folk from the ever-growing Development Trust movement gathered to consider the issues of ‘Climate Change, Localism and Social Justice’. Since its founding in 2003/4, DTA Scotland has now grown in membership to 240 – who now own around £90m in assets; and generate over £20m through trading activity. See more impressive figures


This week’s bulletin profiles a SASEN member that has developed into an integral part of the local community and surrounding area in Maybole in Ayrshire. The Carrick Centre opened for business in 2012 providing a modern, flexible and welcoming environment where people come to meet, greet, play, learn, socialise (including a popular café and conference/event space) and to do business. The Carrick is a registered charity and operates as social enterprise – providing facilities, services and a programme of activities to meet the community life and leisure needs of local people, neighbouring communities and visitors alike.


I have read all of John le Carre’s books and admire the way he has quarried his own life for the content of his fiction; he once said that people with very unhappy childhoods became good at inventing themselves.


            “Today, I don’t remember feeling any affection in childhood except for my elder brother, who for a time was my only parent.  I remember a constant tension in myself that even in great age has not relaxed.  I remember little of being very young.  I remember the dissembling as we grew up, and the need to cobble together an identity for myself.  If I look over my life from here, I see it as a succession of engagements and escapes, and I thank goodness that the writing kept me relatively straight and largely sane.  My father’s refusal to accept the simplest truth about himself set me on a path of enquiry from which I never returned.  In the absence of a mother or sisters, I learned women late, if ever, and we all paid a price for that.”


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