Senscot Bulletin: 11.03.16

Dear members and friends,

            Less than two weeks into March and I’ve already had several exultant sessions in the garden; certainly cold, but blue skies and sunlight.  Winter inactivity restricts me physically – but the return of that mysterious absorption in simple manual tasks.  Many great writers (including Tolstoy) have tried to explain this elemental connection to the soil – our shared impulse to be digging a hole or swinging a scythe.  The power of gardening to lift my mood – must surely come from deep unconscious symbolisms – which parallel my internal world.
            One of my gardening joys is freedom.  I’m mostly retired now, but the dynamic of my working life was around creating new social projects; while rewarding, progress often depended on convincing others – for which I have little patience.  On Saturday I decide to construct a new flower bed – need consult no-one.  Collect wheelbarrows of stone and topsoil from nearby; three happy hours on my knees – ‘in the zone’ – and it’s done – looks great.  For a veteran of long, gradual ‘social interventions’ – the immediacy of this is thrilling.
            And I’ve thought of something else: there’s a big, fat, happy Buddha in my garden; also a Mexican terracotta of St Francis of Assisi. I find I’ve moved away from words like ‘sacred’ and ‘worship – (the natural world is wondrous enough) –but these statues speak of another ancient origin of gardens: the human need for some kind of sanctuary or haven – ‘out of the swing of the sea’. Our reach for stillness.


What we know as the third sector – subdivides naturally into 3 segments or sub sectors: regulated charities – social enterprises – community groups; the largest of these segments is probably the community one – but because it is the least strident it’s largely taken for granted.  Perhaps thirty thousand, mostly small local groups – mainly dependent on volunteers – provide the services every day which enable our communities to function.  With the right support, this ‘force’ is capable of much more – but like Labour before them, SNP don’t ‘get’ the potential.  This week the Scottish Community Alliance published its Vision Document – at long last a clear set of principles and actions which reflect the true potential of the community sector.  It would now help if our Govt. would acknowledge that this sector – many times larger than social enterprise – is worthy of its own strategy and support structure.


Less than a week before the Lobbying (Scotland) Bill received its final reading yesterday in Parliament – an amendment was introduced allowing dozens of lobbying organisations to escape scrutiny. The Electoral Reform Society Director, Willie Sullivan commented: “The Scottish Govt has caved in on a massive scale and taken some of the most prolific lobbying organisations out of the requirement to show the public when they are meeting with Govt.” This is most disappointing.


This piece by Giles Fraser helped me unravel the myth that America is more Christian than Europe. The US, he says, became its own church and eventually its own God; it’s only real atheism is to question the American Dream – indistinguishable from capitalism and the celebration of winners. This is the only God Donald Trump worships – he is its great high priest. Good piece.

When I was growing up – both at boarding school and at home – the norm was to bathe once a week – yet I don’t remember people smelling bad. This is an interesting piece by Donnachadh McCarthy claiming that daily showering is wasteful, polluting and bad for our skin and hair; that we should return to the weekly bath/shower – plus a daily sink wash.


The British Council’s Jan 2014 Report: ‘What will Social Enterprise look like in Europe by 2020’ was referenced at a recent European conference in Zagreb.   You may remember this report’s conclusion – that attempts to distinguish asset locked social enterprise from the private sector “will certainly have ceased by 2020”.  Well not in Scotland it won’t.  When we get it wrong most folk tend to go quiet – but the British Council continues to peddle its message around the world – how for-profit will eclipse the third sector.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: BOLD, Victim Support Scotland, VOCAL – Voice of Carers Across Lothian, Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian, Freespace, Place 2Be, The Ripple Project
EVENTS: Land, Democracy and the Economy in Scotland & The Ecology Centre’s AGM, 16 Mar;
Creative Writing for Fearties, 17 Mar; Meet A Mentor for Women, 24 Mar; Story Café Special: 24 Mar;
TENDERS: 2 Year Old Early Learning and Childcare 2016/17 – Moray Council, Website – Design, Build, Hosting, and Support – Glasgow Clyde College, Framework Agreement for the Provision of Screening, Recycling of Inert Material and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  The ReadyforBusiness Consortium held its Fit for Purpose 2016 event at Easter Road Stadium on Wednesday. Over 80 delegates were present to hear from a range of inspiring speakers as well as engaging in a series of workshops. With Health and Social Care Integration coming into force across 31 local authority areas on 1st April, the Conference focused on the important role social enterprises can play in improving the health and wellbeing of communities across Scotland. These contributions, via community focused initiatives, can go a long way towards addressing many of the issues being faced by our health service – as well as contributing towards healthier, happier and more vibrant communities. To achieve these aims, the conference also heard call for more creative approaches to procurement and commissioning of services and an end to short term funding.


Senscot held its AGM last week that included a seminar about the opportunities, challenges and risks for our sector in its increased engagement with public service delivery. Pauline Graham (SFS) gave an overview of the current situation in Scotland – with new legislation seeking to encourage greater levels of participation amongst third sector organisations, coupled with what appears to be a genuine commitment from our Govt for our sector to play an increasing role in all aspects of social and economic life. Our other speaker, Barry Knight (Webb Memorial Trust) offered a more cautionary note – warning that public sector delivery can undermine the third sector’s independence in developing societal change; based on decades of experience both in the UK and abroad – he identified six key messages for the effectiveness of community action going forward.


“Growth is not for everyone: The nature and scale of “community enterprise” within Scotland’s growing family of social enterprises. A debate and a celebration”. This is the working title of a symposium to be hosted by Community Enterprise on 24th June. The event will explore the business model of local community enterprise and celebrate what these groups are achieving across Scotland. More info’ soon.


Still on the theme of the sector delivering local services, the Yunus Centre at Glasgow Caley draw our attention to their CommonHealth researchers’ blogs. These are made up of reflections on some of the issues the team are encountering as they focus on their main Social Enterprise and Health Project.


In Lima, Peru – the 4th World Conference of Biosphere Reserves takes place – and our old colleague, Colin Campbell (Assist Social Capital) will be launching ASC’s new online platform OASIIS (Opening Access to Sustainable Independent Income Streams). The platform – supported by Scottish Govt and live on 16th March (#oasiis_br) – will engage with businesses and SEs, in and around Biosphere Reserves, who are delivering social and environmental benefits; connect with other like-minded businesses (locally and beyond); and share information and access to new markets and/or investment opportunities. More here.


This week’s bulletin profiles a co-operative in Perthshire that is looking to find new and innovative ways of providing care and support in our rural communities. The Care & Wellbeing Co-op was established in March 2015 and wants to help find the best care and support solutions by working with people needing care, their families and representatives. They work with our members throughout our community to support them and help them develop their services, bound by a common set of standards and values. In some respects, The Care and Wellbeing Co-op provides a matching service – bringing together those who need care and support and our members who provide care and wellbeing services


Psychological testing over the years indicates my ‘type’ to be overwhelmingly ‘intuitive’; so I’m interested in how this form of knowledge behaves. The Baltic philosopher, Hermann von Keyserling (1880-1946) believed that ‘intuitives’ have clearer ‘sight’ of future possibilities:


“Intuition penetrates the veil that hides the future, and thus penetrates the veil of the possible. Reality is in a state of continuous transformation, so it can only be clearly seen by someone who, when the opportunities present themselves, is able to take direct hold of what is possible. This applies in two senses: firstly, because above and beyond the facts, certain ‘possibilities’ exist; and secondly, because from time to time and when the conditions are right, an intuitive is able at once to discern which of those possibilities can be made a reality. Both of these can only come about as a result of that primordial, inner experience of things in their entirety…”


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