Senscot Bulletin: 11.08.17

Dear members and friends,

I was born in 1940 – just as a world war erupted; grew up in its aftermath, while Britain was laying the foundations of social democracy. Ours was a fortunate generation – familiar with concepts like ‘the common good’ – enjoying free healthcare and university education; secure jobs and available good housing; the beginnings of social mobility. But the pendulum had swung too far – Brits opted for Thatcher’s turbo capitalism – continued by Blair and Brown. Signs now that this is stalling; the pendulum swinging back.
            ‘Secrets of Silicon Valley’ (Sunday BBC 2) helped me understand new technology’s prevailing ‘philosophy of disruption’. How companies like Airbnb, Uber etc – don’t wait for the rules to be put in place – through negotiation and compromise – they just do it! – forcing the world to react; in this way, technology creates our world rather than vice versa. This ‘disruption’ leapfrogs politics and the democratic process; giving a handful of billionaires an unacceptable level of power.
            I live with email and Google – what did we do before them? But without a mobile phone or the world of social media; they feel too intrusive to me – and solitude is a dear friend. Nor do I agree with the common view – that the present level of change is unprecedented in human history. The ‘tech’ revolution is driven by venture capitalists seeking maximum profit, while paying minimum tax – what’s changed?  Rather than a brave new world, Silicon Valley is the same old story – of egos and empires.


The campaign for Scottish independence now needs to extend itself beyond the SNP – re-group. Much to the joy of the Unionist press, a few prominent nationalists have expressed differences of opinion about politics – which is being headlined as ‘the self-destruction of the Yes movement’. Kevin McKenna’s National column beautifully mocks this nonsense – and selects an ‘Indy United‘ football team: a 4-3-3 formation – pithy player profiles. In goal, he puts Robin McAlpine; a back four of Lesley Riddoch, Iain Macwhirter, Gerry Hassan and Carolyn Leckie; Midfield is Pat Kane, Cat Boyd and Michael Fry; and strikers are Angela Haggerty, Rev Stuart Campbell and Ross Greer. The team looks weakest upfront to me – and I would have McKenna himself lead the line. The search is on for a team manager.


New analysis from Heriot Watt University predicts a continuing rise in the number of rough sleepers; even from my own observations, individuals street-begging and rough sleeping, in Edinburgh and Glasgow, have become more visible; commentfrom the business community came under fire last week.  My own spontaneous reaction to beggars is irritation – I wish they weren’t there; but I remember a 2009 TV programme ‘Famous, Rich and Homeless’– five well-heeled volunteers, spending ten days as vagrants on the streets of London – without money or possessions; the speed with which their confidence – their very sense of self – unravels.  Walking past beggars, we tell ourselves that we’re very different – but that’s the point – we’re not.


If/when the day comes when I require practical assistance to continue living in this cottage – I would much prefer that it was provided by a social enterprise co-operative than a for-profit company.  In Italy and Spain, such social care co-operatives are the norm – jointly owned by the providers and recipients of care – but the UK lags way behind.  This piece, from last week’s Independent, references positive moves from England and Wales – but nothing from Scotland.  As a matter of urgency, Scottish govt. should fund a small task group to pilot three social care co-operatives around Scotland; we need to get this kick-started.


Gordon Brown (yes, former PM) has recently written a bizarre article – claiming credit, alongside banker Robert Cohen, for the introduction of SIBs in 2010; regular readers will remember that Senscot rejects the principle of SIBs (investing for profit, in the relief of suffering). The article’s tone is reminiscent of Brown’s infamous 2006 Mansion House speech – extolling the achievements of bankers (cringe); he even suggests here that Robert Cohen is deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize (surely a joke). It’s sad, that this former giant of the Labour movement finds himself as an apologist for moneylenders stalking 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: Rock Trust, Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust, Grampian Employment Opportunities, CVS Inverclyde, Helmsdale & District Development Trust, Govanhill Community Development Trust;
EVENTS: Create a Teddy Bear Cake Topper, 18 Aug; Impact Festival, 28 Aug; Costing for Tenders, 31 Aug; Fife Soup 1, 1 Sept; DTA Scotland Annual Conference & AGM 2017, 4 Sep;
TENDERS: Operation of the Cafeteria within Dollan Aqua Centre, East Kilbride – South Lanarkshire Council; Salary Sacrifice Cycle to Work Scheme –City of Edinburgh Council; Rural Scotland Food Waste Roadshow – Zero Waste and more.  Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Our annual Conference will this year be returning to the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld. The dates are the 7th and 8th December and – like last year – the event will be run in partnership with Social Firms Scotland; Community Enterprise; and the Scottish Community Alliance. Unlike last year’s one day event – Keep it Local, Strength in Numbers – we are returning to the overnight format – although not 100% sure about a Ceilidh this time! The event will be supported as always by RBS and others. We are currently working on the programme for the event – around an overarching theme of ‘collaboration’ – and expect to have a draft programme and booking form available over the coming weeks.


In August 2010, Senscot moved into Bath St in Glasgow as our base for setting up Senscot Legal. Over the years, it also became home to most of Senscot’s core staff (too many Weegies!) as well as hosting office space/desks etc at various times for Social Firms Scotland; DTA Scotland and Community Enterprise. With numbers increasing, it’s now time to move on and, from Monday 14th August, our new base will be at 24 George Square – sharing space with the national charity, Crossroads Scotland. Further details – next week.


As of Monday, 14th August, P4P will have its full staff quota – as we welcome both Neil Young (P4P Co-ordinator) and Jennifer Paterson (Interim Support Officer) to the team. P4P will be operating from our new premises in George Sq (see above) from Monday. To coincide with all this, P4P is issuing a press release giving core information on what the service will offer and to whom. One current example will be P4P working in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), Resources Futures and CRNS in providing practical support to successful applicants to ZWS’ new Circular Economy Investment Fund. Closing date is 10th Sept 2017.


Two events for your diary: DTA Scotland Conference – 2nd/3rd Sept at the Westerwood. Theme this year is ‘It’s All about People’. See Programme and booking details. Same week – at SVS 200 in Glasgow – on 6th Sept is the CEIS SE Policy and Practice Conference which, amongst other things, will see the launch of the 2017 SE Census. Again, see Programme and booking details.


This week’s profile (below) is our 800th since our first (Birse Community Trust) in December 2001. Some of those profiled are, sadly, no longer around – but the vast majority are. If you’d like your organisation featured in our bulletin – or your existing profile updated – please contact . See Project Profiles.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new Leith-based social enterprise seeking to address the issue of social isolation and loneliness in the Leith community, through a sustainable community business, with all of generated profits being used to confront this issue locally. Wee Green, which participated in Edinburgh Social Enterprise’s Social in the Gardens last week, will include a local produce grocery shop, community kitchen, café and catering service to support and enable its community activity – which seeks to seek to support the people and groups on the margins of the community – known, or at risk of isolation and loneliness – through food and social-based activity.


This piece in the National reminds us that 100 years has passed since the birth of Hollywood icon Robert Mitchum.  Famously casual about his profession and even his life – one sensed that ‘Mitch’ was a very private person.  I’d love to have known him.


            “I have never mortgaged my tongue to hold a job… I don’t believe in making plans.  It has been my experience that nothing I planned far in advance and with what I considered intelligent care, ever panned out… I have seen entirely too many thin slices of integrity, sincerity and competence, wrapped in cellophane and passed out as the total product, to have any confidence in fancy verbal packages…….. many of my statements have been smokescreen, designed to allow me to follow my own course without exposing it.  I learned early in life that by telling a story far more colourful than the truth… one’s truth is let alone.  I like to be let alone.”


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