Senscot Bulletin: 12.02.16

Dear members and friends,


I’m down on the Costa Del Sol at my favourite Estepona hotel – living ‘high on the hog’. The chap behind me on the plane was coughing and sneezing freely – now I’m doing the same ; I lie in bed, maxed up on paracetamol, sun streaming in, calm sea; temperature outside is 18 degrees, but the breeze can chill. Will rest up this week, and then into the mountains in search of adventure.


On my way to Spain, I stopped off a couple of nights in London to visit an old friend; we attended a catholic seminary together in 1957/8 which we planned to revisit, physically and mentally. Physically there is little trace – posh flats now – mentally, I felt remote from that 18 year old who wanted to ‘save souls’; but it was good to see my friend – exchange memories. ‘And one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.’


 My impression is that most people would not choose to live alone – would find it difficult; but it feels the opposite for me – more difficult to share my living space. Probably don’t need companionship enough to make the required compromises – self-centred. There’s an old couple in this hotel – be in their 80s – who are beautiful to behold, so attentive to each other. I am reminded of Frank Sinatra singing Gershwin’s ‘someone to watch over me’ – when that was my fond expectation. I often wonder at what deep unconscious level our destinies are determined.


In 2005 (according to this Observer editorial), 50% of charity income was from Govt. – it is now down to 20% ; this is the context in which we see the spread of unethical fundraising practices – like the current Age UK story – making millions from co-branded commercial products. The UK’s centuries old charity legislation was based on citizens helping each other on a voluntary basis; contemporary multi million pound charities have more in common with the business practices of Capita/Serco etc than they do with tiny local organisations. Barry Knight of Centris has been arguing for years that these are quite distinct sectors with different cultures – and that legislation/administration needs to reflect this – i.e treat with them separately.


Each year, Senscot invites financial donations from readers – to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin.  Traditionally, around 100 folk give an average of £25 to become full company members. We also invite donations from individuals or organisations who simply want to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or to donate – see members page  – over 70 folk have signed so far. If you’ve donated and your name’s not on the list, please email


On the issue of an unconditional citizen’s income, a Senscot member from Switzerland writes: “In 2014, the Swiss Initiative for a Citizen’s Income was successful in obtaining the necessary 100,000 signatures to bring a Referendum, whereby Swiss voters will decide whether Parliament should incorporate into law an unconditional basic income scheme for every Swiss citizen. If successful, Switzerland will be the first nation to do this. The precise amount does not form part of the Referendum but the talk is of 2000 Swiss Francs (£1400) per month. The Swiss Federal Council (Bundesrat) decided last week that this vote will take place on 5th June, 2016. It’s interesting to note that interesting economic initiatives sometimes come from people outside the economic ‘box’. In this case from Enno Schmidt, an impassioned artist, philosopher and filmmaker, who not only started it in Switzerland but is actively promoting the idea internationally.”
See recent articleon pilot in the Netherlands.


‘If a man were permitted to make all the ballads – he need not care who should make the laws of a country’. This quote by Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun underlines the potential importance of the Makar – Scotland’s official poet. The international reputation of Tom Leonard’s writing – his scathing disrespect for establishment authority, makes him my choice. He gets them ‘telt’. This from a previous bulletin.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Highland Wholefoods Workers Co-operative, Social Investment Scotland, Social Enterprise Academy, Dig-In Bruntsfield Community Greengrocer, Firstport, Barony, Church of Scotland
EVENTS: Defiance -The Eiger Paraclimb Lecture & Film, 18 Feb; Edinburgh Story Café, 24 Feb; HR Essentials, 25 Feb; Meet A Mentor for Women, 26 Feb; Dumfries Community Shares Training, 3 Mar;
TENDERS: Self Directed Support – Option 2 – South Lanarkshire Council, Digital Interpretation For St Magnus Cathedral – Orkney Islands Council, Inclusive Childcare Support Service – 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: Last year, Social Firms Scotland, supported by Senscot, established the new Employability SEN – which has now grown to more than 50 members. Important reasons for establishing the Employability SEN were both to provide a strong collective voice in the employability arena, specific to social enterprise, as well as a pro-active approach in influencing policy both locally and nationally. Given how important this role is, we’d be very grateful if social enterprises working in employability – either already involved or interested in becoming involved –  could fill in this short 4 questions survey on policy and representation. If you’d like to engage with the Employability SEN, please contact Jayne at Social Firms Scotland or Kim at Senscot.


Sad to hear the news this week of the closure of Girvan Horizons – with the loss of four jobs. Over the years, Girvan Horizons has played an important role supporting communities across South Ayrshire. It has been working to tight financial constraints for a number of years and the recent loss of a couple of significant contracts appears to have been the tipping point. This story will be all too familiar to many social enterprises in Scotland. In spite of the sterling work they do, it’s hard grind out there – and sometimes you wonder if the ongoing hype around the sector (all too often by the sector itself) is doing it any favours. A more realistic and honest picture has to be painted – as there will be other ‘Girvan Horizons’ just round the corner.


Date for the Diary: SCRT is holding its first AGM on Wednesday, 2nd March at the Old Sheriff Court, 105 Brunswick St, Glasgow – from 10.30 – 12.30. If you’d like to come along and hear about SCRT’s first year of operation and its plans for the year ahead, email


“What are the implications – challenges, opportunities and risks – for social enterprises and the third sector in playing an increasing role in public service delivery?” This is the question for discussion at Senscot’s AGM and Seminar on Friday 4th March at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh (10.30 – 1.30pm). Our keynote speaker will be Barry Knight from Centris – the Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Policy Ltd. Barry’s background includes working as an advisor to UK Govts on economic development and the third sector. We still have space for 10/15 folk. To book your place – see Booking Form


Desk space available: Senscot moved into new premises in Walker St in Edinburgh’s West End in September. We share the space with the Scottish Community Alliance; Community Transport Association; Equal Futures; and SCRT. We now have one desk space (possibly two) available for an individual/organisation – sharing in a room with others. If interested, email.


This week’s bulletin profiles a Cultural/Creative SEN member in Glasgow that is the result of a merger between the North Glasgow Arts and Regeneration Network (NGARN) and the West Arts Network (WAN). Since 2013, Glasgow Connected Arts Network (Glasgow CAN) has sought to expand its reach across the North and West areas of the city. With over 30 current members, Glasgow CAN seeks to increase the impact of arts and regeneration work in the more disadvantaged areas of Glasgow – and has built long and successful collaborations between the arts, youth, health, employability, learning and safety sectors. Notable examples of Glasgow CAN’s work includes the development of the Arts Award qualification – securing Scotland’s first training agency contract for Arts Award from Trinity College, London.


A theme throughout my life has been the weighing of the consolations of companionship with those of solitude.  This is how the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer described humanity’s uneasy balancing act between being together and being apart.


"On a cold winter’s day, a group of porcupines huddled together to stay warm and keep from freezing.  But, soon, they felt one another’s quills and moved apart.  When the need for warmth brought them closer together again, their quills again forced them apart.  They were driven back and forth at the mercy of their discomforts until they found the distance from one another that provided both a maximum of warmth and a minimum of pain".


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