Senscot Bulletin: 12.01.18

Dear members and friends,
Got my usual new year urge to chuck stuff out; two carloads this year to the Council’s beautifully run Linlithgow recycling centre: a series of giant skips – all lined up with steps and loading platforms; clear instructions – helpful and cheerful staff. Chucking my old toaster in with the hundreds of other discarded electrical appliances was an amazing sight – wanted to rake about – thankfully foraging is prohibited. From the general mood of cheer in this place – it would seem that disencumbering ourselves of rubbish lifts the human spirit.

Not tasted alcohol since September 2001 – over sixteen years; at a holiday festive event, I hold someone’s balloon glass of cognac to my nostrils – the fumes reaching deep to the point where nose and brain seem one; immediate ‘flashback’ to the power of this addiction. Alcoholics shouldn’t inhale cognac fumes – reckless; but I’m reminded that escaping addiction has little to do with ‘willpower’ – but with a decision at a deep unconscious level – which we don’t understand. The incident releases a surge of gratitude for my 2001 escape.

Trying this week to ease back into my ‘working’ identity – an opinionated observer of Scotland’s civil society; unusually, this year, I feel a resistance – a reluctance to leave ‘holiday mode’. We don’t really understand the ‘life force’ – source of our creative energies – what turns it on and off; thankfully we are not required to understand such things – only negotiate our way through them with as much kindness as we can muster. Good luck to us all with our adventures in 2018.



The vast, global economy is so unpredictable and amoral – the speed of technological change is so confusing – it’s easy to feel that we are in the grip of economic and political forces beyond our control; communication technologies, not as we hoped, dissolving power – but consolidating power hierarchies. I got a new year ‘lift’ from this feature in Bella Caledonia – where 16 Scottish writers, artists and activists have each contributed a short piece on what they want from 2018. “The contributors range from the young to the old, the hopeful to the borderline despondent, but all have one thing in common. All suggest that, whatever we do, we need to find some common bonds – some sense of collective action in order to be effective”. Great read.



In 1977 – in the very heavenly dawn of London’s punk-rock scene – a crude, photocopied magazine told readers, “This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now start a band. They did so in their thousands.  Now that punk aesthetic has come to science”. This quote is from a fascinating article in the Xmas edition of the Economist; it tells inspiring stories about various young people – who are building and disseminating simple, low-cost tools – which allow environmental campaigners and activists to measure local variables like radiation, air, water and food quality etc; data Governments are wilfully ignoring can now be made public.



Over the next four years, the Lottery is to distribute £50m of dormant accounts money to the third sector in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland LINK; the split has yet to be decided. Last time this happened in Scotland (2012) – Senscot gave this account; but it seemed to me that these ‘additional’ funds – just got absorbed into the Govt and Lottery ordinary budgets – nothing ‘noticeable’ happened.  This is an opportunity to make something ‘special’ happen in our sector. For instance, the late Stephen Maxwell’s bold idea (from 2005) for the ‘capitalisation’ of locally-owned ‘anchor’ organisations in Scotland’s most needy communities.



I have long advocated serious exploration of a universal basic income (UBI) for all citizens: “a basic platform on which people can build their lives – whether they want to earn, learn, care or set up a business”; BBC Scotland political reporter Philip Sim has written a balanced piece discussing how the concept is developing. Structural problems (like cost) continue to dominate the debate – but I think the underlying resistance goes deeper: we have all been taught our intrinsic worth is defined by our ‘paid labour’ – and few of us can imagine beyond this. Govt advisor Harry Burns has some thoughts on basic income and poverty.



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

JOBS: Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust, South Ayrshire Women’s Aid, Big Issue Invest Scotland, WHALE Arts, New Caledonian Woodlands

EVENTS: Tea @ the Tron, 17 Jan; Understanding Psychosis, 23 Jan; Tennis Celebration Event at Good, 29 Jane Family Festival, 21 Jan; safeTALK Health in Mind, 6 Feb; Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid, 8 Feb;

TENDERS: Advice Services – Renfrewshire Council, Cleaning Equipment Framework – NHS Lanarkshire, Close Cleaning- Abertay Housing Association Ltd, STEM Education Rooms – H&I Enterprise.


The SENs Weekly Update: This week sees the fifth in our series of Policy Briefings on the work and activities of thematic SEN members in specific policy areas. This latest Briefing – Dementia: The Role of Social Enterprise –follows on from last year’s publication of Scotland’s third National Dementia Strategy. The strategy seeks to further transform services and improve outcomes for people with dementia and their families and carers. Our Briefing Paper aims to increase awareness of the wide range of person centred products, activities and services developed by social enterprises to provide support for people living with dementia, their carers and extended family and friends. The Briefing includes case studies on three organisations – all taking different approaches to addressing the issues of dementia. The case studies are Talking Mats; Aberdeen FC Community Trust; and the Ally Bally Bee Project.



Following the announcement before Xmas of the ‘new deal’ for TSIs and VAS, it will be important for the 16 existing local SENs to understand how this ‘new deal’ dovetails with the commitments in the SE Strategy and supporting Action Plan to ‘strengthen and extend SENs in every part of Scotland that wants one’. More info’ on this in the weeks ahead. On this same topic, it was good to see the robust response from 15 TSIs to the ‘disgraceful, personal attack’ on VAS and, in particular, an individual staff member carried in a recent edition of Third Force News (TFN). TFN has rightly built a positive reputation for its coverage of our sector, but the tone of this article does them no favours.



In December, Scottish Govt published Part 2 of its workforce plan for the recruitment and training of an additional 2,600 nurses and midwives; it also committed to the continued trialling around Scotland of the Netherlands Buurtzorg model of providing community nursing. Buurtzorg’s unique feature is the absence of management – in favour of a user-friendly computer system. Frontline teams – of no more than 12 nurses – operate with exceptional autonomy; providing holistic, 24/7 care – in their homes – to around 50 patients, in a specific locality. Small, self-managed, local, multi-disciplinary teams – offer a new model of public service delivery.



Over the last twelve months, this bulletin has featured a number of Alan Kay’s blogs for the Social Audit Network (SAN). Alan’s blog, this month, challenges the view, held in a number of quarters within our sector, that growth and expansion are measures of success for community and social enterprises. He argues that measuring of success (or failure) in our sector should be based on the positive, qualitative change achieved by organisations. He goes on to suggest that collaboration – and not overt competition – is the way forward for our sector.



The first bulletin of 2018 revisits a Glasgow-based social enterprise first profiled in 2013 – Locavore. Locavore was initially set up to help build a more sustainable local food system which is better for the local economy, the environment and local communities. With supermarket chains in the UK holding 97% of the grocery market, one of Locavore’s ambitions was to grow and scale up what they do in order to trade in the same marketplace as the big corporates, but with their own values and for the benefit of society. Last week, Locavore announced the latest step in their development with the launch of Locavore Trading – which will provide a wholesale service to over 80 shops, cafes and caterers around the UK.



In the Guardian Review (30/12/17) five authors reveal the cultural retreats where they find inspiration; Nicola Barker describes the church of St Mary Moorfields, London – unknown to me. Apparently, it’s one minute from Liverpool St station and unobtrusive, ‘hardly there’. I intend to find it next time I’m down there.
“Once inside it’s a small but pretty space – not remotely claustrophobic – that feels as if it’s semi-submerged in the London sod and loam. The best thing about it – aside from the warmth and the lovely light from the chandeliers and the polished wood and the banks of burning candles – is that everyone is equal here. It is a City church that effortlessly unites the well-heeled gent and the tragically destitute, the traveller and the local, the religious and the sceptic, with no palpable sense of conflict or unease. It is magnificently cosmopolitan. All are welcome. Nobody seems or feels out of place. It is a profoundly dignified, proper, reverential, and, well, yes, loved space.”


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




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