Senscot Bulletin 10.04.15

Dear members and friends,


At one level I’m caught up in the excitement – the closeness – of this general election; but part of me dreads the next 4 weeks of staged predictable squabbling. Our national political conversation is set by the big newspapers – which pursue the business interests of proprietors.  Then come the professional politicians – and the attendant army of media pundits and commentators.  The London based media – and its entourage are not much interested in Scotland.  Even the Guardian – my favourite newspaper – is London, Liberal, Labour – prone to lazy stereotypes about our country.
            But, in Scotland, another ‘hidden’ process is underway – which, except through the opinion polls, is invisible to the mainstream.  Civil society campaigns – political groupings – radical blogsites – crowdfunding campaigns etc – political activism up here has gone online and front line; traffic and attendances at gatherings indicate that this alternative world is flourishing.
            Watching the SNP conference on TV – Nicola’s speech – I was struck by how ‘ordinary looking’ the crowd was; how different from the usual media and political groupies.  Kevin McKenna’s Observer piece called them ‘gloriously unsophisticated’ – first time conference go-ers: casually dressed for a day out – packed lunches – lots of babies in buggies – friendly ladies doing the selfie thing.  These looked, to me, like folk who would choose their leaders from a visceral intuition about whom they trust; is there a better way?  It’s clear that the SNP revolution reaches deep into the population for its followers; by their reckoning, Scotland, at the moment, is Nicola’s domain.


If you Google “what is the difference between civic and civil” – it will take you to a Senscot link from 2008; a speech to the annual Conference of the Development Trust movement (DTAS). The distinction I made is that ‘civic’ refers to some local function of the state – whereas ‘civil’ refers to the independent action of citizens, outwith the power of the state. I’m not sure how widely the definition is accepted – but an average 30 people each week – from every country in the world – Google this question. You may infer from the levity of this item that I’m enjoying a sunny Easter break in the garden.


Like most Scottish citizens, I think the SNP has done pretty well in government; if I have a hesitation about this administration – it is its instinct to centralise civic functions rather than disperse power – the important philosophy of subsidiarity is missing. Perhaps as a consequence of our missing local tier of elected democracy – the level of informal citizen activity in Scotland is exceptional; a rich tier of community groups, development trusts etc. If civic politics continues to decline – and informal civil society continues to energise – how will this play out?
Good piecein the Guardian (by Peter Geoghegan) about the story of Glasgow’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) – set up in 2005 to help tackle the city’s endemic gang culture; a decade later, Glasgow’s murder rate has more than halved – from 39 in 2004/5 to 18 last year. Modelled on the Homeboy Industries of Los Angeles – the VRU offers direct support to individual ex-offenders – to stay out of the cycle of drink, violence and often early death. The availability of employment is a critical element in enabling young men to change their lives; the original Homeboy employs around 200 ex-offenders in 6 SEs – impressive website.


Community Shares Scotland has been on the go since June 2014 – acting as a central reference point; providing support, and raising awareness about community share enterprise and initiatives across the country. To date, around 40 such community-led ventures have been launched or are in the process of doing so. One that has come to our attention this week is Balasport – a new co-operative style organisation, based in Glasgow. Balasport’s share offer is about helping to bring Fairtrade sports balls into mainstream sport and recreation – ensuring a better livelihood for 40,000 workers in Sialkot, Pakistan – where 70% of the world’s hand-stitched sports balls are made.


NOTICES: More jobs, events and tenders available at 


 JOBS: Calman Trust Ltd, Crossreach, Plantlife Scotland , The Voluntary Action Fund (VAF), Penumbra, WorkingRite, Scottish Community Safety Network, Crossroads Community Hub
EVENTS: Social Impact Measurement, 16 Apr; Dragons’ Den, (Coalfields Regeneration Trust and Social Enterprise Alliance for Midlothian), 23 Apr; Community Shares Scotland – Edinburgh Roadshow, 1 May
TENDERS: East Ayrshire Works Employability Pipeline Framework* Provision of an Employee Counselling Service, South Lanarkshire Council; Litter and flytipping: best practice review, Zero Waste Scotland; Community Meals, Scotland Excel; ICT Digital Skills Transition Training Fund for The Highland and Islands, Skills Development Scotland. Follow on Twitter.
* If you are interested to bid jointly/partner for this opportunity there is an organisation in Glasgow that is keen to hear from you.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: The aims of the Health SEN and Roundtable are very much about promoting the work of Health-based social enterprises and the contribution they can make in improving health inequality in the communities in which they work. This week, John Cassidy – Health Roundtable member and Volunteer Director of Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing (SCHW) – has an article  in the Herald highlighting the need to ‘examine the current imbalance between the resourcing of the medical (fix me) and social (help me) models of health improvement’ – and the role community/social enterprise can play in redressing this imbalance. He goes on; “We need to help empower people to help themselves. We need to focus on purpose not outcomes and we need to manage value, not cost”. SCHW has made an offer to Scottish Govt to establish in Scotland a world leading community-led approach to help deliver our national strategy on health and wellbeing improvement and reduce health inequalities. 


Our old friend from Salford, Chris Dabbs, has been in touch about some work being carried out in Greater Manchester with regard to the development of social enterprise. These include –  GM Council appointing a ‘Social Innovation Driver’; the local Chamber of Commerce appointing a ‘Head of Social Enterprise’; Salford anticipating designation as a ‘Social Enterprise City’; the establishment of a Greater Manchester SEN; and, naturally, a visit up to Scotland. Here’s a link to their recent review of SE strategies – not just from the UK but also from across the globe. See more


Reminder: The Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015 is underway. This survey is seeking to capture the size, scale and reach of SE in Scotland – for the first time. This is an important milestone for SE in Scotland and it would be very much appreciated if you could take 15/20 mins to fill in the survey. See background


The Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprises in Scotland (the Code) was first established in 2012 and has now reached its 400th subscriber – see list. The Code is becoming increasingly recognised as an accepted means of identifying social enterprises in Scotland – with recent examples including the SE Vision 2025 document and the Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015. The intention has been to try and re-visit the Code each year to consider whether it requires any amendments/updates etc. This will take place over the next month or so. We`ll keep you posted.  Meantime, you can subscribe or sign up as a supporter here.


Good feature in the latest edition of the List Magazine on Glasgow and Community Food SEN member, Locavore. The article highlights the impact made by Locavore and its founder, Reuben Chesters, in using local food produce to address inequality and add as much social value as possible. Locavore also has ambitious plans to build the business into a social enterprise supermarket – the first in Scotland – see more.


This week’s bulletin profiles a sports-based social enterprise set up to provide a platform for people of all ages to pursue their sporting ambitions. ClubWorld Sports Ltd, located in Glasgow, was established by experienced sports and education professionals who believe sport can have a positive impact on many current social issues in Scotland.  They develop and deliver projects in local communities and creating new learning opportunities for a new generation of sports enthusiasts – believing that these can also lead to realistic career options for young people. In delivering on their objectives, ClubWorld Sports Ltd works with a range of national, regional and local organisations. See more.


The bulletin last carried this piece in 2005 – I wonder if 10 years later much of it is different – probably more computers – and the richest richer? You may wish to read again this graphic summary of the ratios of people and resources in our global village. Does anyone know of an updated version of this?


 "If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, keeping all the existing human ratios the same, there would be: 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south, 8 Africans, 52 would be female, 48 would be male, 70 would be non-white, 30 would be white, 70 would be non-Christian, 30 would be Christian, 80 would live in substandard housing, 70 would be unable to read, 50 would suffer from malnutrition, 1 would be near death, 1 would be near birth, 1 (yes, only 1) would be a university graduate, 1 would own a computer. 6 people (all from the USA) would possess 59% of the world’s wealth.  These six would be in control of the village."   


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