Senscot Bulletin: 13.10.17

Dear members and friends,

There is growing acceptance of the almost ‘miraculous’ power of music – to reach withdrawn dementia patients.  The late/great Oliver Sacks put it well: “the past, which is not recoverable in any other way, is embedded in the music – as if in amber”.  In ways that we don’t yet understand – music has a more fundamental impact on our brain than mere thought.

I’m revisiting Graham Greene’s ‘A Burnt-Out Case’ – set in a leproserie run by priests in the Belgian Congo; where Querry, a famous but ‘burnt-out’ architect, has fled.  We reflect with him on the strange Christianity of the natives – a mixture of singing, dancing, games and prayers; ‘but probably more recognisable to the early Apostles that the collected works of Thomas Aquinas’; how primitive religion is not ‘believed’ it is ‘danced’.

Near my cottage there’s a farm-shop/restaurant where I frequently lunch.  Sitting alone on Wednesday, when a woman, my age, says with a smile “if you used to be Laurence Demarco – I used to be Susan McLeod”.  My mind racing, confused emotions, I realise that this woman and I dated a few times in our late teens – wow; we get more coffee and have a blether.  I soon remember that Susan was an exceptional dancer – and that I didn’t come near her standard.  She confirms that her choice of husband was greatly influenced by the way he moved; in particular with the rumba and the cha-cha-cha – she found his rhythm irresistible.  They’ve been married over fifty years and have great-grandchildren.



So much of what’s happening in the world today is scary – wild intemperate rhetoric – too many moving parts; in this context, the measured competence of First Minister Sturgeon’s conference speech on Tuesday was calming. Headline investments in free child care and affordable housing – spot on; a progressive, social democratic package; just enough emphasis on the longer term goal of independence. If the SNP can manage the finances – can deliver on Sturgeon’s promises – they’ll take some budging. But the next political storm will come from Westminster – from the deteriorating Brexit front; Scotland should brace – to resist being removed from Europe.



I take a keen interest – if sometimes a romantic one – in the wellbeing of Scotland’s populated islands (at the 2011 Census there were 93 of them – 103,700 islanders).  During the current parliamentary session, we have been promised an Islands Bill – aimed at the repopulation and sustainability of these communities.  Kevin McKenna, the Observer’s man in Scotland, has been on a wee tour and gives his impressions.  While I’m aware that some of these fragile communities are still losing population – I’m very optimistic about their future.  Basic housing and functional broadband would make island life an attractive option for young families.



The term ‘millennials’ usually applies to the generation born in the 1980s – ‘coming of age’ around 2000: the millennium; in most parts of the world their upbringing was marked by a familiarity with communications tech. and with a generally more liberal approach to politics.  This Guardian article argues that millennials – ‘the most socially responsible generation that has ever existed’ – are driving changes in consumer attitudes.  Recent research from Unilever, Morgan Stanley, Triodos Bank etc points to a growing consumer preference for ethical brands – with social or environmental missions; a preference for the growth of the social economy.



The Catalan Parliament stopped short of declaring independence on Tuesday evening – in favour of ongoing dialogue and negotiation. The decision will be a relief to many – and a disappointment to others. The Madrid Govt which has continued to act in a belligerent manner – with gunships and the army at the ready – will now be under pressure, both within and outwith Spain, to look at some sort of compromise – without being seen to lose face. At the same time, in Catalonia itself, deep divisions will prove very difficult to heal. It’s a mess.



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

JOBS: Good Morning Service, Social Enterprise Academy, Zero Tolerance, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Re-Union Canal Boats, Highland Wholefoods

EVENTS: Leading Growth for Senior Leaders, 25th Oct; Pre-start Leadership (Aberdeen), 31st Oct; Groundwork Training – Practices for good team collaboration, 1st Nov; Branding for Beginners, 29th Nov;

TENDERS: Provision of Legal Services Framework – Caledonia Housing Association, Transport Data Collection Services – Transport Scotland, Early Learning and Childcare Inclusion Fund – Scottish Government. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.



The SENs Weekly Update: Partnership for Procurement (P4P) is kick starting their series of roadshows with a trip to Aberdeen on 30th October. The P4P Roadshow event will be delivered jointly with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Shared Procurement Service. The event is a great opportunity to speak to the team about the range of services P4P offers; learn about the changes for supported business; and find out more about the ‘refreshed’ RfB Third Sector Register.  During the session, you will hear about the impact of the sustainable procurement duty and the Councils’ commitment on supplying to the public sector including – how procurement processes can be used to improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the local area, delivering community benefits and value for money. Register here.



Bookings for our SE Conference this year at the Westerwood Hotel (7th/8th Dec) have now passed the halfway mark – 75 delegates signed up – space for 45 more. The programme for the event – “Collaborating towards a Sharing Economy” – is just about complete and we expect to have final details available over the next week or two. We aim to make this event as affordable as possible for front-line SEs with an overnight rate – including dinner, bed and breakfast – of £70 for SEN members and other social enterprises – £100 for intermediaries/support agencies/public sector etc. To book your place, see Booking Form



I’m not enthusiastic about public honours and titles – our establishment celebrating itself; but I’m enthusiastic about the proposed statue to Nelson Mandela in Glasgow. The way Glaswegians instinctively responded to this man, showed a genuine empathy – a shared commitment to the fight for human rights; Glasgow deserves this statue. If we’re going to erect statues – let them be champions of the people like Mary Barbour who led a rent strike in Govan.



Our SE Census tells us that 7% of social enterprises in Scotland are involved in ‘international activity’ – around 400! One of the most prolific is Assist Social Capital (ASC) that leads on the SE theme for the World Forum of Biosphere Reserves. This includes working specifically with 11 countries across 4 continents and has helped them develop their own bespoke online support platform – OASIIS. Their work has also seen them develop a new cloud-based evaluation tool – U>P (Unlocking Potential) – and, as part of the SE Action Plan, ASC will be piloting this with 4 SENs over the next 12 months. The model will look to measure, monitor and manage progress by demonstrating positive change being delivered in terms of connectivity, trust and the value of relationship networks. If you are interested in learning more, contact



This week’s bulletin profiles a venture from DTAS and Cultural SEN member, the Creetown Initiative (Wigtownshire) where the local community has transformed a derelict pub into a thriving new Enterprise Centre. With the support of the BIG Lottery, the Barholm Enterprise Centre now offers multiple businesses and community members a variety of opportunities and services previously unavailable in the area. These include shared shop space for a local Arts and Crafts cooperative; a high-quality Accommodation facility (up to 20 beds); a bike hire and repair business; a recently opened charity shop – as well as an electric car charging point. All benefits and profits are all fed back into the local community.



Mary Elizabeth Frye (1905-2004) was a Baltimore housewife and florist, without formal education; she is remembered for only one poem – which has been called the most popular in the English language.


Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sun on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush. I am the swift uplifting rush –
Of quiet birds in circling flight. I am the soft star-shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there; I did not die.


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