Senscot Bulletin: 13.04.18

Dear members and friends,
Cutting the grass on Sunday (first cut of 2018) – a jovial old couple stop for a chat; recognising them as’ regulars’ – I ask why they visit. “Molly here is a ‘rescue’ dog”, he says – “very badly abused – very timid; she appreciates the peace and quiet around here”. A cowering collie mongrel is looking up at me – in terror for her life – expecting violence; suddenly I ‘see’ the true devastation of post-traumatic stress – its assault on the ‘total being’ – mind, body, nervous system – locked in fight/flight mode.

A landmark research study, first conducted in America, has demonstrated the indisputable association of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) with health and social problems in adulthood – the lifelong impact of our early years. From links with a kids’ charity, I know at first hand – that growing numbers of Scottish toddlers are arriving at nursery and primary schools from dysfunctional households. Many have experienced violence, parental substance abuse, core food and fuel poverty etc; teachers can increasingly recognise the behavioural and emotional confusion of traumatic stress.

The capacity to bounce back from damaging experience – resilience – can be nurtured in all children; our charity takes referrals from schools – helps individual children understand why they’re not coping – how they can take better care of themselves. American stand-up comedian George Carlin once said: “I love it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete – so heroic.” Too many children, growing up in Scotland, are still required to find a ‘crack in the concrete’.



Peter Wishart, an SNP MP with impeccable indy credentials, wrote last week that indyref 2 should wait for a sustained 60% in favour; this pressed the refresh button on a tired debate – so I’m asking myself again where I stand.  For reasons that transcend economic pragmatism, I would vote unhesitatingly for Scottish sovereignty; I have a core belief in the moral justice of subsidiarity – that our people have the right and the talent to shape our own future.  As to when we should hold the second referendum – I can see both sides.  Like Ruth Wishart, I can see that the Brexit mess prompts us to get on with it; like Peter Wishart, I can see it would be sensible to wait till the people indicate they’re ready.  Our First Minister is a cautious person.



Some of Kevin McKenna’s hobby horses make me groan – but I’m a fan of his journalism; principled, brave, and he can certainly write.  His Observer piece this week was about the attempted extradition from Scotland of Clara Ponsati and is headed ‘If the Spanish want a scrap, then Scots will be only too happy to oblige’.  During the Spanish Civil War, 549 Scots volunteers went over to fight Franco; many observers detect the remnants of Fascism in Madrid’s violent suppression of Catalan independence.  McKenna says that the concept of ‘neutrality’ is alien to the Scots – and this pleases him. Slightly ashamed – but it pleases me too.



This bulletin makes frequent references to Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) – its enlightened philosophy, humane engagement, startling success; tragic events on the streets of London remind us of the particular mayhem wrought by violent youth gangs. There are indications, thankfully, that the Metropolitan Police are in touch with Police Scotland – are considering real engagement, rather than just searching every black person they see. Key to the success of the VRU has been the deployment of mentors (former gang members) and the collaboration of dozens of helping agencies across the public and third sectors. It’s a lot more sophisticated than stop and search.



As their Autumn Conference promised – the SNP have surfaced with their consultants’ report on a public sector energy company – to supply households with the cheapest possible gas and electricity – without having to bother about shareholders. The report cautions that this is a highly competitive market – where EU regulation prohibits state subsidy – but that such a company would be well-placed to alleviate fuel poverty. Many of us want the basics for a viable life – health, housing, utilities, transport etc to be available to everyone. A Nordic type social democracy – which uses the markets when they work for the common good – but otherwise the public or social economy.



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

JOBS: East Kilbride Credit Union, WHALE Arts and Tasting Change, Lifelink, Craigsfarm Community Development Project, Mid Argyll Community Enterprises Ltd, New Cumnock Development Trust

EVENTS: Understanding communication in youth justice settings seminar, 17 Apr; Information Session: Dynamic Purchasing System, 18 Apr; Free REHIS Food & Health (Intro to Nutrition Course), 23 Apr

TENDERS: Provision of Independent Advice for Tenants – South Lanarkshire Council, Weed Spraying of Roads and Pavements –  Stirling Council, Associate Trainers (Health and Wellbeing) –  Edinburgh College,



The SENs Weekly Update: Senscot Legal has just completed its 7th year of trading – now having provided services to over 1000 social enterprises and third sector organisation during this time – including around 160 in 2017/18. This year, as part of the SE Action Plan’s ‘early actions’, it has produced a new document – Governance Guiding Principles for Social Enterprises, supported by the Scottish Government.   Senscot Legal has consulted with organisations across the sector to produce this guidance, including OSCR who have assisted with specific guidance for charities.   The ‘Guiding Principles’ – which include seven key principles – provide practical governance advice and resources tailored to fit all sizes of social enterprises – and can also easily be applied to the wider third sector. The document is available as an online resource – with hard copies being available over the coming weeks.



The SEN Community Bond Offer now has 4 weeks left to run – closing date 7th May 2018 – and we would like to encourage all SENs; SEN members; and other supporters of social enterprise in Scotland to give their support during the final few weeks. To date, nearly 50 ‘investors’ have purchased Bonds. If the target is reached, a SEN Loan Fund can be established – providing small, affordable loans to SEN members – helping them ease short-term cashflow issues; bridge funding gaps or develop new ideas. Community Bonds are available at £50 each. Your support over these final weeks would be very much appreciated. For more, see Bond Offer and application form – or for further questions, contact



Couple of interesting stories in this week’s media on the impact and reach of social enterprise in England. In Bristol, Bristol Community Transport, a subsidiary of one of the big boys, HCT – has won the contract to run the longest bus route in the city – creating up to 60 new jobs in the process. The other story is about the work of the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) in addressing issues faced in one of the poorest parts of Plymouth – including an interesting observation on ‘other things named as social enterprises’.



Scotland’s ‘old firm’ rivalry generates big money – but it drains the social capital of our communities; this week, let’s remember the Partick Thistle legend, John Lambie – who embodied all the hope and passion of the ‘smaller teams’. Rest in peace, John.



The Cyrenians Farm is a social enterprise located just outside Edinburgh. It’s a working farm and also home to a community of vulnerable young people, many with experience of homelessness. The Farm grows food and provides opportunities for individuals to develop skills and confidence as a step towards a settled lifestyle. The Farm is looking for ways to expand the business on the farm to make it more self-sufficient. They are inviting people – particularly from the Edinburgh and West Lothian areas –  to take part in this short survey – with findings being used to help expand current projects and develop new revenue streams.



This week’s bulletin profile is a bit different. Firstly, it is based down south, in Dorset, and secondly, it is a not-for-profit insurance broker. Communities Insurance works with social enterprises, charities, and other ethical businesses and/or not-for-profit clients – providing insurance broker services from Public liability insurance and Employers liability to Professional indemnity, Fleet insurance / motor insurance and Key man cover. Communities Insurance’s philosophy is that all commissions and earnings associated with their services are invested in developing financial services products for those who find themselves financially excluded. Communities Insurance may well be of interest to many of our SE community in Scotland.



World news – real and fake – is particularly alarming just now; this poem might cheer you up. We’ve used it before, but not since Dec. 2005. ‘Sometimes’ by Sheenagh Pugh.


“Sometimes things don’t go, after all, from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail, sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well. A people sometimes will step back from war; elect an honest man; decide they care enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor. Some men become what they were born for. Sometimes our best efforts do not go amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to. The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.”


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,



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