Senscot Bulletin: 09.12.16

Dear members and friends,

2016 has been a particularly stressful year – it still is.  I force myself to watch the pitiless images from Aleppo; austerity sparks angry populist movements around the world – a failed economic system, with no Plan B; UK spending cuts continue relentlessly – reaching deep into local services; Donald Trump, coarse and confrontational, prepares to sour the mood of international affairs – the advance of nastiness; Brexit gets daily more delusional and dishonest; I want Scottish independence – but not further constitutional confusion – not just now.  By nature, I’m relatively comfortable with turbulence – but right now there are too many moving parts – can’t keep up.

            I was out in the garden last weekend (two spectacular autumn days) – cutting back 2016 shrubbery – dozens of pot plants trimmed or brought in – final preparation for the grip of winter.  With all the volatility in the external world, I feel no inclination to travel abroad for the festive season; our ancestors regarded these as the ‘survival months’ and that matches my frame of mind; time to ‘coorie doon’ – wait things out.

            I spend a delightful few hours this week with a dear friend and her 5 month old daughter; Wee Molly and I stare at each other a lot – I’m captivated – think of Hopkins line “nature is never spent – there lives a dearest freshness deep down in things.”  On Dec 22nd the shortest day will pass – the light will build again towards snowdrops and daffodils; I’ll open myself to the spirit of Christmas – which for me, celebrates a commitment to hope.


The Senscot Bulletin archive is open source – freely available for anyone to use; on the weekend before the launch of the new ‘Social Enterprise Strategy for Scotland’, we pulled up the Scottish Executive’s 2007 version; this Executive Summary demonstrates why, even ten years ago, Scotland’s SE support infrastructure deserved its high reputation. Following a motion passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2005, an extensive consultation was carried out – leading to the publication of a SE Strategy and Action Plan early in 2007. The ten-year Strategy to be published next week, was co-produced by Scottish Govt and our sector; an action plan is expected to follow in early 2017. It will be interesting to compare next week how the size, profile and vision of our movement has evolved; whether, and how, the strategic priorities have shifted.


I long ago stopped watching BBC Question Time because I thought the audiences were fake – not a cross section of any world I lived in. Interesting piece by Mike Small in Bella Caledonia which agrees with me; Small says that the Question Time ‘audience producer’, Alison Fuller Pedley is a member of the British Patriotic Front Facebook group – even invited the English Defence League to join the audience. Question Time accentuates my remoteness from feeling British – the ‘rigged audiences’ are the main reason why.


Unlike most of the press, I don’t want the SNP to fail – but this week’s appalling news about the decline in Scottish education is very worrying; makes us question how much grip this administration has on the basics – the calibre of its ministerial team. If Education, on which the SNP choose to be judged, has slipped so far – what’s happening in other areas of lower priority; I’m thankful that the collective political opposition is getting more robust. Lesley Riddoch has a good grasp of this issue (an extract). The SNP needs a decisive forward policy – continual centralisation only makes matters worse.


I got to know the late Stephen Maxwell while he was a Councillor for Wester Hailes, where I worked – a gentleman; I went on to develop a deep respect for him as a thinker, activist and philosopher – about Scotland and the third sector. The annual lecture in his honour was given on Thursday by Andy Wightman (now MSP) on the state of Scottish democracy; it was a brave speech, well received by the audience; one which Stephen would have enjoyed – local democracy was one of his passions. If Wightman posts his text, try to read it; we need more parliamentarians of his calibre and conviction.


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

JOBS: Bandrum Nursing Home, Port Edgar Watersports, TSI Moray, Place 2 Be, Baldy Bane Theatre Co.

EVENTS: Out of the Blue Xmas Arts Market + Bruncheon, 10 Dec; "Ye Olde Toy Storey" (A Disnae Panto Glesga Style), 18 Dec; Retail resilience: Retail Finance, 31 Jan; Leading Growth for Senior Leaders, 23 Mar

TENDERS: Outdoor Playground Equipment / Business Gateway Core and Specialist Workshops and Expert Help Services – Renfrewshire Council, Independent Advocacy Service – Inverclyde Council, Provision of Transport Services – North Ayrshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Like many in our sector, we look forward next week to the launch of the new SE Strategy for Scotland. Many SENs and their members were able to participate in a wide-ranging consultation process that began in late 2014. Reflecting on the first SE Strategy (March 2007) – and Action Plan –  offers an opportunity to consider how the SE community in Scotland has evolved over these last 10 years. From the SENs perspective, here are some stats from our annual report in 2007 (2016 figures in brackets): Local SENs – 10 (18); Thematic SENs – 2 (5); Local SEN members – 215 (1068); Engaged on Thematic SENs – 32 (486). It’s not all been plain sailing – but the increased level of activity, engagement and influence is there for all to see. We are hopeful the new Strategy helps SENs and their members build on a growing contribution within their respective local communities.


I don’t sense a re-emergence of Scottish Labour or Kezia Dugdale – but she was clever to raise, on Wednesday, the merits of a Federal UK. I believe independence to be the fitting and inevitable destiny for Scotland – but at this stage in the journey we should go for full federal status. With so much confusion around – we need a simple strategy which can bring people together – federalism could achieve this. But the sad reality in Scotland is that the level of historical bitterness between political parties often obscures what’s best for our people.


This week the USA authorities announced they will not grant the permit for the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline to drill under the Missouri River. You’ll remember that in April, in defiance of the oil industry, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe established a’ spiritual camp’ – to protect their water and sacred sites. The camp attracted thousands of supporters from all across US society and developed into a major environmental confrontation which included water cannon, rubber bullets etc. President Obama is credited with a direct hand in this decision – although, to many, belatedly.


With the Festive period upon us, it’s a good time to remind folk of Common Weal’s new online marketplace to give folk a chance to buy local, independent and ethical gift this Xmas. Common Market aims to provide an alternative to big business and high-street stores that dominate UK retail. A couple of SEN members already signed up to the platform – as well as existing Run Native vendors. See their 10 for under a tenner.


Piece in the Independent about a Dutch nursing home which offers free rent to students in return for 30 hours a month of their time – ‘acting as neighbours’ with elderly residents. This is the kind of ‘mix and match’ initiative which ‘care in the community’ will inspire, when the managers get into the swing of it: win/win situations – youngsters get the opportunity to connect with older generations – closed institutions like nursing homes open to outside ‘normalisation’.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new community cafe – based in Ruchill – that is a joint venture between Queens Cross Housing Association (QCHA) and mental health recovery charity Flourish House. The Courtyard Café provides affordable meals, cakes and coffees. Crucially, it also provides employment and volunteering opportunities to people in the community who have experienced mental ill health. The Ruchill area is currently classified among the top 5% most deprived areas in Scotland and this initiative between QCHA and Flourish House also seeks to address issues of social isolation and food poverty which often accompany economic disadvantage. The Courtyard Café is open 5 days a week – Monday to Friday.


Although I’ll ‘hibernate’ rather than ‘migrate’ this holiday – there’s something magic about ‘getting away’ – a new perspective on our lives which can press the reset button. The late John O’Donohue captures some of this in ‘For the Traveller’.

“……A journey can become a sacred thing: Make sure, before you go, to take the time – to bless your going forth, to free your heart of ballast. So that the compass of your soul might direct you toward the territories of spirit – where you will discover more of your hidden life, and the urgencies that deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way, gathered wisely into your inner ground; That you may not waste the invitations which wait along the way to transform you. May you travel safely, arrive refreshed, and live your time away to its fullest; Return home more enriched, and free – to balance the gift of days which call you”.

See full poem 

That’s all for this week.   

Best wishes,