Senscot Bulletin: 12.04.19

If I tell some stranger that I live alone by choice, they either don’t believe me, or they disapprove – implying that solitude is anti-social; well, of course, it is – that’s the point. If I’m honest, I probably have some similar prejudices against single people – that there’s something dodgy about them – that’s how pervasive this is.

One of the advantages of living alone, is the freedom it affords: music, TV, radio, silence, require no negotiation; I eat when/what I want; go out and return at will; in the garden, I’m ‘master of all I survey’. Aloneness also enhances my attunement to the natural world – a deepening relationship; but mostly solitude helps keep me sane. When I’m in company, my sense of self gets scattered – being alone is like a wave rolling back from sand and shore to its ocean source; without people, consciousness reconnects with inner landscape – the personal stories and metaphors which define me. The level of isolation I enjoy feels right for me.

Having said that, when occasionally I consider the ‘quality of my life’, I think immediately of a few close relationships. Health is important (increasingly); so too is the distraction of various adventures (decreasingly). But my key reference point is a handful of people – who know me pretty well and, in spite of my fumblings, have lasted the years. Maybe, being known and accepted for what we are, is our deepest need – the ‘essential’ quality of life. That and precious solitude, of course, – they’re not contradictory.



I don’t think a six-month extension will be enough – we need a year. Our political system – in a state of exhaustion and emotional collapse – faces the most important political decision for generations; the first requirement is a period of calm – to take a long deep breath. Most importantly, we need enough time to ask the electorate the one question only they can answer – ‘is Brexit still worth it’; because if they are not asked in a referendum, then it will be asked by subsequent generations – amazed that we went ahead without one. Journalist, Peter Oborne was a strong Tory Brexiteer, but has changed his mind. This ‘rigorous’ article on Open Democracy – argues passionately that we all need a year’s sabbatical.



The actor, Matt Damon enthused at Davos this year, on how poor communities should borrow money to finance their access to clean water; I mention this nonsense to illustrate the extent to which moneylenders have penetrated our world. Much of the social enterprise support structure in the UK is subsidised (and co-opted) by moneylending institutions. When he was appointed chair of Big Society Capital in 2014 – Harry McGrath made it clear: that debt finance is only suitable for a small, sub-set of social enterprises. True ‘social investment’ is a grant – or patient, ‘blended’ finance. Our old friend, Niamh Goggin (Small Change) is working with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – exploring some of the anomalies inherent in what mainstream bankers call social investment. Here’s Niamh’s most recent blog.



The Augusta Masters was one of my favourite golf tournaments – but the increasing ‘self-worship’ of this institution has put me off: an ugly celebration of elitism. (Good piece by Nick Rodger). Good old Lee Trevino was the only world golfer with the ‘bottle’ to tell it to their face: racist, misogynist, snobs.



The idea that private schools are charities, meriting public subsidy, is intolerable; the flaunted privilege of these establishments, actually damages the social cohesion of Scotland – and our very understanding of ‘charitable status’. At the end of 2017, the Barclay Review into business rates, recommended that private schools should lose charitable rates relief by April 2020 – then things went quiet. The third sector will be pleased to learn that a bill has now been introduced to Holyrood, and a consultation launched – to progress matters. If/when it passes into law – the saving for taxpayers, between 2020-2025, is estimated at £37m.



Some ‘pro solitude’ propaganda – five from 1411 such quotes.


“Many people suffer from the fear of finding oneself alone and so they don’t find themselves at all” – Rollo May

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self” – May Sarton

“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other” – Rainer Maria Rilke

“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth but delicious in the years of maturity” – Albert Einstein

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself” Michel de Montaigne.


Senscot participated in a Museums’ Galleries Scotland webinar this week to promote the social enterprise model to its membership – and was also the focus of our most recent Senscot Briefing – SE and the Heritage Sector. The Cultural SEN has a number of emerging sub-sets – Tourism, Heritage, Creative Industries etc – which, funding permitting, could see them emerge, in time, as a discrete thematic SENs in their own right. With17 local SENs and 6 thematic SENs – with around 1300 SEs members or engaged – it is anticipated that these numbers will also grow during 2019/20 – with a new local SEN emerging in Angus and discussions taking place in Highland. Another thematic SEN is definitely on the cards – a new Rural SEN – more info soon. For more on any of the above, contact

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


The MGS Webinar (above) included a plug for Community Enterprise’s Map of the Scottish SE Eco-system. The Map is a comprehensive guide to support, funding, information, mentoring and networking available to the sector across Scotland. This week, hard copies are being circulated around the country and Community Enterprise is now in the process of producing an interactive version which will be available soon. Community Enterprise has written this blog – giving some background on the Map – and suggesting that as opposed to the perception of a cluttered landscape, the SE community in Scotland benefits from a responsive and organic eco-system which reflects a vibrant, responsive and changing sector.



Community Land Scotland (CLS) was established in 2010 with the intention of providing a collective voice for community landowners in Scotland. Its current membership includes over 80 community landowners across Scotland– owning and managing approx. 500,000 acres between them. One such member is Bridgend Farmhouse in south Edinburgh which has evolved in to a sustainable community-owned centre for learning, eating and exercise, where people can learn, work and grow together to develop a flourishing community and place. CLS has produced this short video telling the Bridgend story. See more CLS videos.



Community Shares Scotland (COSS) and Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) are together

exploring the challenges and support needs of community groups in taking a community business, cooperative, or enterprise idea through to successful implementation. Their research includes a short survey (5/10 mins) – which will inform the next stage of their work. All info will be treated confidentially.



This time last year, folk were gearing themselves up for the introduction of the new GDPR regulations. Scottish Govt has now been in touch with regard to the implications a No Deal Brexit would have on data protection. In short, if the UK exits the EU without a deal – GDPR remains in place – although there would be changes to how personal data transferred from the EU to the UK. This Briefing Note gives more details.



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in Glasgow, that is a trading arm of the International charity – Silver Stag. Schoolyard Chillies provides a range of chilli products from small, independent farmers in Ghana. The farmers are provided with seeds at affordable prices, access to agricultural training, and a guaranteed route to market for their chillies. In return, they ask that no children are removed from school to work on their farms – which is a big issue in parts of Ghana and other African countries. The chillies are grown, harvested and sundried in Ghana, before being shipped to Scotland to create Schoolyards Chillies own products. Over the last 18 months, over 4000 children have been able to stay in education.