Senscot Bulletin: 11.11.16

Dear members and friends,

When Donald Trump ventured into Scotland a few years ago – we saw a stereotypical business tycoon – arrogant, shrewd, egotistical; his high handed, belligerent dealings around the Menie estate (near Aberdeen) upset not only locals, but Govt leaders. In the political arena, his wild bombastic style makes it impossible to discern what he really believes – a kind of white nationalism? In his aversion to migrants, loathing of Muslims, and in some wilder outbursts – he drifts closer to Mussolini’s fascism: the Mexican wall, curbing press freedom, torture of terror suspects etc.

            We’re told that Trump’s election on Tuesday was the rebellion of America’s blue collar workforce – against a rotten political establishment, rigged in favour of a privileged elite. I get that – but in rebellion they have allied themselves with the Republicans; the party which brought the world neoliberalism, cuts taxes for the rich, deregulates banks, is opposed to unions, state benefits and free health care. That, I don’t get.

            Trump has never served or been a candidate for public office: as a property magnate his attitude to the public sector will be guarded if not hostile. I wonder if he’s even aware, that the restraints which western society has in place to protect individual human rights – took centuries to construct. What UK citizens should fear most is the future conduct of USA international relations; the fragile equilibrium of civilised order – dependant on diplomacy, compromise and cooperation – will now be presided over by this swashbuckling privateer; our world has just become scarier. Naomi Klein’s take.


The legendary singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen has died, aged 82; See Guardian obituary.


I’m a great fan of Andy Murray – his passionate fighting spirit – his screams of rage and joy.  I’d like to say that I always believed he would overhaul Federer, Nadal, Djokovic – but I didn’t; his achievement is all the more extraordinary.  This short tribute in the Guardian from Kevin Mitchell suggests the core of his genius is that there is nothing ‘fake’ – on court or off it; it’s this rare authenticity which makes him such an exceptional role model.  This from Andy himself: “Always believe that when you apply yourself, you can achieve anything… don’t forget natural ability will only get you so far, there’s no substitute for practice.”  You’ve done us proud, Andy – never allow the media circus to sour your refreshing candor. 


The gap in educational attainment between rich and poor children is Scotland is probably our most shameful failure – the waste of human potential.  The Govt. measure to get money (a discretionary spend) directly to head teachers of schools serving deprived areas – will, I believe, bring genuine benefits – but it’s only tinkering.  The attainment gap results from hard poverty – low income households where the struggle to survive obliterates ‘luxuries’ like exam results.  A new survey for the End Child Poverty Coalition shows that 220,000 Scottish children now live in poverty (23% – up from 19% five years ago).  In the present political and economic climate, it’s difficult to be optimistic.


When this year’s golf Open championship disappeared, from the BBC, behind Sky’s ‘pay wall’ – millions of us were excluded from one of the UK’s sporting ‘crown jewels’; this still makes me furious.  I commend the SNP govt. for making ‘inclusion’ one of its key principles – but it’s too deferential to ‘free market forces’.  A Green MSP, Alison Johnstone, has started a campaign for Scotland football matches to shown on free-to-air TV – so that children from poorer backgrounds can watch our national side in action.


A freedom of info. request from the BBC has revealed that a further 58 police buildings across Scotland are being looked at for possible disposal.  In 2013 the police had 397 buildings – subsequently reduced by 44; this new batch would reduce the total to under 300.  The concern, of course, is that we are seeing the reduction of the visible presence of police officers in local communities; and perhaps more importantly, that such decisions are taken without reference to any elected local politicians.


Right wing economists tend to attribute the cause of poverty to the chaotic behaviour of individuals; left wingers will attribute it to structural economic factors – like de-industrialisation.  This piece by Glen Bramley, a social policy prof. at Heriot Watt yooni, draws on an English study to conclude structure rather than behaviour is the dominant factor.  He points out however that adverse childhood experiences have a major impact – confirming the relative importance of early years’ interventions.


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

JOBS: Scottish Maritime Sailing Trust, Family & Community Development West Lothian, Scottish Rural Action, Sport Scotland, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Skidaddle,

EVENTS: Free community shares training – Dundee, 15 Nov; New Rights, New Resources and Revenues, 16 Nov; Train the Trainer, 23 Nov; Keep it local; Strength in numbers, 23 Nov;

TENDERS: New Applications for Early Childhood Education Partner Services – Stirling Council, Sector Based Work Academy – Care – Renfrewshire Council, Independent Advocacy Services – The City of Edinburgh Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Thought provoking, challenging and inspiring sums up this week’s Community Learning Exchange to Liverpool’s Can Cook – hearing about Can Cook’s business model, campaigning and the services they provide. To stop the industry around food poverty from growing, Can Cook is focussing on solutions that tap into the great & hidden food regeneration capacity of local communities.  Growing community confidence and demanding trust from partners, Can Cook encourage all of us to secure the investment required to tool up our kitchens and maximising capacity to solve food poverty.  Community Food SEN members are keen to share the learning and identify SEs interested in applying a similar approach in Scotland. See presentation. For more, contact Mary.


The “Keep it local; Strength in numbers” Conference is more or less full. Some last minute bookings available – but will be opening the waiting/reserve list from Monday 14th. The event itself takes place at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh on Wed 23rd Nov – and we’re hosting it in partnership with Social Firms Scotland, Community Enterprise, the Scottish Community Alliance – with Eric Munro and RBS being our main sponsor. Our programme will focus on the imminent SE Strategy; increasing collaboration between local SEs; and a series of breakout sessions. A drinks reception and dinner will round off the day.


The Voluntary SE Code of Practice (the Code), set up in 2013, recently clocked up its 900th subscriber. The 2015 Scottish SE Census used the Code as the benchmark for identifying SEs in Scotland. Of the 5200 counted, over 70% were registered charities, and less than 5% (CICs that distribute profits) were not asset locked. A question remains – how can we protect the integrity and distinctiveness of the SE brand (asset locked) and, at the same time, acknowledge the role and place for a growing number of ‘socially responsible businesses’ within a wider movement?


Sportscotland has supported Senscot’s work over the years in the field of Sport and social enterprise. Earlier this year, it appointed Mel Young as chair, and is now looking to recruit additional Board members.


Our SE awards season has moved onto the next stage – with the announcement of some of the winners: From last week – Sophie Unwin, Remade in Edinburgh; this week – Buth Bharraigh Ltd (Rural Business Awards – SE of the Year; and last night – the SES Awards. Winners included Homes for Good, SIS, SE Academy, the Melting Pot and Freedom Bakery. Congrats all round.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise offering a great facility and services not just to the Caithness community but also to folk right across the north Highlands. Pulteneytown People’s Project (PPP) was started by the local community in 2003 with the aim of creating opportunities to improve life chances, quality of life and economic well-being. Initially employing one and half members of staff, PPP has grown over the years and now provides over 40 sustainable jobs for local people. Their work culminated with the opening of a new multi-functional facility – the Pulteney Centre – in 2012. See a recent press article.


I bought a poetry book where 100 women choose the words that move them.  Annie Lennox – another of my Scottish heroines – chose Siegfried Sassoon’s angry ‘Suicide in the Trenches’; on Armistice Day, an antidote to some of the malarkey about poppies.

“I knew a simple soldier boy who grinned at life in empty joy,

Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, and whistled early with the lark. 

In winter trenches, cowed and glum, with crumps and lice and lack of rum,

He put a bullet through his brain.  No one spoke of him again. 

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye who cheer when solider lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you’ll never know the hell where youth and laughter go.”

That’s all for this week.  

Best wishes,


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