Senscot Bulletin: 13.11.15

Dear members and friends,

Sotogrande, at the Gibraltar end of the Costa, started life in the early 1960s as a world class golf course and polo club – and has grown into an exclusive urbanisation of around 3000 residents; between golf, polo, yachting etc – numbers swell to 12,000 during the summer season. Unusually, ‘Soto’ has developed along American lines – a carefully controlled, highly privatised enclave for the rich. The owner corporation replaces much of local Govt – services are provided by private contractors. Residents here are relieved of citizenship – even voting becoming irrelevant; the sole requirement is wealth.


            Alpandeire is a village in the Ronda mountains with a declining population of around 250, mostly older people. Economic activity is minimal – the few trading businesses don’t charge enough to make money – its economy aspires to ‘sufficiency’. Most locals will keep an allotment – have at least one other useful skill to barter. Interdependence is not a concept here – but an immediate necessity – villagers tend to help each other. The village has an elected council – a statutory tier of local government – with a budget. Civic pride is strong: ‘Our village is the best’.


            The IMF said this week that world banking has not corrected sufficiently since the 2008 collapse – that another meltdown is possible. If the cash machines really stop working next time – if it becomes a scramble for naked survival – I’d rather take my chances in a mountain village than in the mainstream economy. Villagers understand survival from nature – that you eat what you grow


The Scotland Bill went through Westminster Parliament on Tuesday evening and – depending on who you read or what side of the fence you are on – it was either a ‘trap’ or it was honouring the ‘Vow’. I guess the Scottish electorate will make its judgement next May. For many, it will be time to park the constitutional debate – time for focusing on the more immediate matters of administering the powers that are available –  addressing the growing concerns in health and education. The Herald asks why the tactically astute SNP allowed themselves to walk into this ‘fiscal trap’ that they were never going to win? Would Scottish voters ‘ pay a little extra tax in order to live in a more humane society’? Is our Govt bold enough to ask us the question?


As a community worker, I’m not convinced that trickle-down prosperity reaches the people who most need it; more attention should be given to bottom up stimulation of local economies. New Start Magazine – based in Manchester – has long provided a focus for thinking about local economies. During 2015/16, New Start will be visiting core cities in the UK to map local alternative economies. Much work has already been done and here are 10 selected lessons it would be interesting to know if they intend to visit Scotland – and who are the current leaders of work in this field.


When I hear some of the views of Republican candidates for the US Presidency – it worries me that, on the world stage, the UK will be associated with these rantings. I take comfort from this Guardian piece which argues that, on the whole, the US is moving from right to centre politically. What is emerging is a racially blended, diverse, secular, multicultural society – more Democrat than Republican. These are not trends, it says, but profound demographic changes, and shifts in values.


SCRT was constituted this time last year as a ‘a body, owned and controlled by the Scottish third sector, that seeks both to harness our sector’s collective financial assets and expertise and to provide a family of financial services and products relevant to our sector’s needs’. With over 130 members to date, SCRT hosts its first Conference and AGM next Thursday – 19th Nov at the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh. Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney, is amongst an array of speakers looking at Social Finance; Social Investment; Social Banking: What makes them Social? – and how Scotland’s third sector can learn from examples further afield. Places (including bursaries) still available – see booking form; or email


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Money Matters Money Advice Centre; Social Investment Scotland; WorkingRite; St Magnus International Festival; Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust; L’Arche; Glasgow Bike Station.
EVENTS: "Heartlands" Urban Fox Theatre Co, 17 Nov; Social Entrepreneurs Chat Show, 18 Nov; Social Finance: Social Investment: Social Banking – What makes them Social?, 19 Nov; Social enterprise: another route to start up, 24 Nov;
TENDERS: : Community Connecting – The City of Edinburgh Council, Family Support Services – Outreach – East Lothian Council, New Skatepark at Kinglassie Playing Fields – Fife Council and more.
Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Senscot’s SE Conference and Ceilidh is over for another year. Around 120 delegates attended the event at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld. As always we’ll have a full report – including feedback from attendees – over the next couple of weeks. Once again, it was an opportunity for SEN members to gather and discuss some of the challenges and opportunities facing them and to consider what lies ahead. These included topics such as the SE Vision; EU Funding; the Govt’s new SE/Third Sector Strategy due in spring 2016; and a number of others. The Dragons Den saw a number of impressive presentations from the five entrants. With both the Dragons’ and audience prize (£5k) going to the fledgling waste recycling employability initiative CORR. We’d like to thank all those who attended; all contributors/participants to particular sessions – as well, of course, to our sponsors: RBS; Firstport; Kibble; Factory Skatepark; ReadyforBusiness; Social Firms Scotland and the SE Academy.


The SCRT Conference next week addresses the theme, Social Finance; Social Investment; Social Banking: What makes them Social? Last week, we featured Robbie Davison contribution to the Emerge event in Oxford stating how ‘social financiers’ were getting it wrong. Another contributor, Phil Caroe (Social Finance) suggested that part of the problem is language and offered his own definitions.


Last week, we had a feature on the extent and impact of faith-based organisations in our sector. This week, we hear of a further example of this – and on a larger scale   with the formation of the Serve Scotland. Seven faith-based charities have joined the Evangelical Alliance in setting up Serve Scotland, an umbrella group to bring together the Christian voluntary sector in Scotland (both a locally and nationally) – with the aim of providing more support for local communities and helping organisations to better tackle poverty. Serve Scotland – based on the Gweini model in Wales – has been running pilots in Glasgow, Dundee and the Highlands – and have plans to open similar networks shortly in Edinburgh and the Western Isles.


A new restaurant and takeaway is opening in the new year in Glasgow that will provide employment for 10 former offenders. Braveheart Industries is seeking to replicate the success of the Los Angeles-based Homeboy social enterprises. Braveheart is a charity run by the Police Scotland and the Scottish Government partnership, the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). The charity’s employment programmes have an impressive success rate. Over the last few years, they have seen just over 60 people employed in jobs at a variety of places including at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Commonwealth Games, and 79% have moved onto positive destinations. All being well, these will be the first of a series of enterprises in the city.


Still on SE/Community cafes, Third Force News ran a series over the summer on some of the success stories, highlighting 5 examples in Edinburgh and Glasgow. No doubt there are plenty more out there.


This weeks’ bulletin profiles a social enterprise that was set up very much to help many disabled/elderly people cope with the financial difficulties they were encountering due to the changes being introduced through the welfare reforms in June 2014. Recycle Mobility Centre (RMC) is based in Clydebank and began trading in March 2014. RMC’s services focus primarily on providing people with access to affordable equipment and a repair and maintenance service which will actively help maintain disabled/elderly people’s daily living activities such as shopping, accessing their place of work and accessing social and leisure activities.  In addition, RMC provides work experience opportunities to local young people as well as offering a range of volunteering opportunities.


Quote from West Indian poet, Derek Walcott:


"The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other’s welcome, And say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was yourself. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life". 


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,