Senscot Bulletin: 11.05.18

Dear members and friends,
Yesterday (Thursday) I was 78; increasingly these days, I find myself wondering how long I’ll be able to discharge certain physical and mental tasks – which sustain my independence. Albert Einstein’s brain ‘peaked’ when he was 26; after 30, a theoretical physicist can still work – but in decline. Writing this weekly blog is a bit less demanding – Alistair Cook’s ‘letter from America’, went chuntering into his eighties. This Bulletin is No.926 – No.1,000 would be in October 2019 – but at 78, you don’t plan too far ahead.

Spring sunshine and the garden lifted my spirits this week – but exposed my physical condition – knackered! For me the joy of gardens is strictly ‘hands-on’ – can’t imagine ever recruiting a gardener – so I’ll need to adapt. I enjoy Monty Don on Gardener’s World, an engaging ‘hippy rebel’, from a posh background. But I also recognise in him the reserve of a fellow sufferer from winter depression (SAD); I feel a spiritual affinity and could share my garden with Monty.

When walking without my stick, I’m increasingly wobbly – but kneeling with a trowel, I’m a match for anyone (with wee rests). Both hands deep in mother earth – plants, worms, insects – birdlife all around; the natural world enfolds us to itself – continuous with centuries of other tillers of this very soil. This childlike absorption – as if in solitary play – is probably the closest we humans come to contentment. “For our time is the passing of a shadow – and our lives will run like sparks through the stubble”.



Top pollster John Curtice, really set the cat among the pigeons, with his analysis of last week’s English elections; he projects that, UK wide, Tory and Labour are now neck and neck – each with 35% of the vote – in a hung parliament.  Of the 64 marginal seats Labour needs, to achieve a majority – 18 are in Scotland; a couple of points swing between Labour and the SNP – would decide the next PM.  I’m a rock solid indy supporter – but I want Corbyn’s progressive social movement to form the next UK govt – and he clearly doesn’t ‘get’ Scotland.  There are many in my position – this is a dilemma we could have done without.



Ever since Senscot launched in 1999 – the individual who has most consistently inspired our work has been Muhammad Yunus – founder of Grameen ‘bank’; this is a recent (American) interview with him about his latest book – A World of Three Zeroes: ‘the new economics of zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero carbon emissions.’  Yunus believes passionately, that all humans have both selfish and altruistic impulses – that the social business movement is just as ‘self-propelled’ as the narrower personal gain which drives capitalism.  He promotes a sweeping vision of great hope.  This is a link to reader reviews of the book.



I won’t see it in my lifetime – but it’s inevitable, that continual advances in technology and automation will gradually make paid work the exception; we therefore need to explore alternative ways of distributing the necessities of life.  As an alternative to the Universal Basic Income (UBI) – the ‘Institute for Global Prosperity’ propose that the UK could provide citizens with free housing, food, transport and IT – what they call Universal Basic Services (UBS).  Their report explains that, like the NHS and education, Basic Services would be free at point of need – and enable a more cohesive/inclusive/gentle society.  They have also put out a call for case studies .



I remember Ed Mayo from his impressive decade at the New Economics Foundation – until 2003; he returned to my radar screen in 2010 – as secretary general of co-operatives UK.  He has written an excellent ‘short history of co-operation and mutuality’ (under 50 pages) – which, in the spirit of co-operation, you can download free.  Mayo writes a monthly blog, and April’s post is called ‘The Guernsey literary and potato peel society – a film version of millions of true societies around the world.’  He reflects on the history of the ancient human impulse to form ourselves into societies –  how our strong societies build a strong society.



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

JOBS: Senscot, Community Land Scotland, Re-Union Canal Boats, CRNS, Youth Support Trust Scotland, South Seeds, North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, Craigsfarm Community Development Project

EVENTS: Health SEN meeting, 15 May; The Vegetarian 17 May; The Ecology Centre – 20th anniversary family ceilidh, May 19; Community Learning Exchange – Aberdeen FC Community Trust, 23 May

TENDERS: Digital Tourism Scotland Programme – Scottish Enterprise, Biomass Fuel (Woodchips) Supply – NHS Grampian, Provision of Education Bus Services 2018 –  Falkirk Council


The SENs Weekly Update: A few years ago, when the SENs were still in their formative stages, we canvassed SEN members about the viability of a bulk purchasing initiative to reduce collective expenditure on office and other supplies. At the time, there wasn’t sufficient appetite for the initiative to be viable, but this has been raised again recently by members and at our conference in December. We are interested to find out if there’s an appetite now that the SENs have matured and expanded. We believe that there are significant efficiency savings to be made on services such as IT support, insurance, accountancy and HR advice, as well as more basic supplies such as stationary, tea and coffee, and office furniture. We’ve set up a survey monkey to see what interest there is in bulk purchasing between SEN members. It takes under a minute to complete – if there proves to be an appetite for such an initiative we will take efforts to put one in place. Take the survey now.



Senscot’s 18th AGM takes place on Friday 25th May 2018 (11am-1.30 pm) at the Scottish Youth Theatre, 105 Brunswick St, Glasgow G1 1TF. This year’s discussion will focus on resilience within our SE community – and will include contributions from speakers offering their perspectives on the challenges being faced by grassroot social enterprises. Last year’s SE Census reflected a sector that – despite the hype – remains fragile for the vast majority. If you’d like to attend, please see booking form. The event is free – although, due to space, priority will be given to company members. There are still 5-10 places available.



P4P is looking to add to its team – with the recruitment of a P4P Co-ordinator – to fill the vacancy left open when George left us earlier in the year. This application pack includes a job description, application form as well as a copy of terms and conditions. Closing date for applications is Friday 25th May – with interviews taking place week commencing 4th June. For further info, contact



In the autumn of 2016, as the Govt’s SE strategy was in final draft, discussion took place over the relationship between social enterprise and ‘socially responsible business’ (SRBs). An accommodation was reached – that whilst SRBs are part of a broader movement – they are distinct from SE and should not be funded through the Govt’s Third Sector Division. This week, our First Minister announced a discrete funding package to support start-up SRB activity (from Govt’s Enterprise Division). Across all sectors, notably from the young, we are seeing an encouraging, general increase in business behaviour attuned to social impact.



Scottish Rural Action has been leading the fight against RBS’ intention to close 62 Branches in Scotland. They are now questioning the legal status of the planned closures and – with the support of Jeanne Freeman, MSP, have written to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to question if the plans would be in breach of the Equalities Act 2010. See Press Release as well as recent BBC report.



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Shetland that has designed, built and now sells polytunnels (known as Polycrubs) for the local community to grow fresh fruit and veg in sheltered growing spaces that can withstand the Shetland weather. Nortenergy, a trading subsidiary of Northmavine Community Development Company (NCDC), now has the patent for their ‘polycrubs’ and is selling them in kit-form to other communities in Shetland and beyond – with profits from sales being passed back to NCDC for the benefit of the Northmavine community. To date, Nortenergy has sold around 70 ‘polycrubs’ – and has recently received an investment of £150k from Highland and Island Enterprise to help them expand.


Monty Don calls himself an amateur gardener and a professional writer; he maintains a ‘literate’ website called ‘Chiot’s Run: a chronicle of an organic life’. Some musings and philosophy – but mostly he shares his love of gardening.
“Modern life is, for most of us, a kind of serfdom to mortgage, job and the constant assault to consume. Although we have more time and money than ever before, most of us have little sense of control over our own lives. It is all connected to the apathy that means fewer and fewer people vote. Politicians don’t listen to us anyway. Big business has all the power; religious extremism all the fear. But in the garden or allotment we are king or queen. It is our piece of outdoors that lays a real stake to the planet.”
(Monty DonMy Roots: A Decade in the Garden)


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




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