Senscot Bulletin: 13.12.19

Dear members and friends,

Last Friday, I retired from the board of a children’s charity in Glasgow’s east end, which I’ve been part of for eleven years.  Kind words and signed cards expressed their regard; I felt quite emotional.  When, in my 30s, I committed to community work – it was like arriving home, where I ‘belong’. Distinct from market activity and state bureaucracy, are thousands of voluntary organisations like ours – ordinary citizens, organising to improve their communities – help each other.  I believe that, the vigour and abundance of such independent, voluntary activity, measures the ‘soul’ of a society.

I write this, the day before we vote; as this bulletin circulates on Friday, we’ll know who won – what was the worst election I can remember. With each passing day, behaviour deteriorated; the lies got worse; eventually I ‘switched off’. In the next bulletin (last before Xmas) I’ll reflect on what the hell we’ve done! – for now, I’m silenced by the expected Tory majority. In times of national disruption, my attention re-focusses locally, the small, formal and informal groups/friendships; where we smile, talk, share hopeful plans; where camaraderie counts as much as ‘outcomes’. I’m reminded of a piece Margaret Wheatley wrote about creating ‘islands of sanity’ in wildly turbulent times. (see end-quote)

At my farewell meeting on Friday, two new people attended – a young woman with legal skills – another, confident with accounts; I like them both – good smiles; and I think they both ‘engaged’.  So ordinary, yet so uplifting to encounter – islands of sanity.


Stop Press – 8am Friday: It’s worse than we feared – Boris Johnson now has an overall parliamentary majority, and can do whatever he wants – it’s scary how little we know about his plans. We can say goodbye to Europe – and the years of ruthless Tory austerity will continue; Labour’s ‘Manifesto for the Many’ is suddenly far away – the elite 5% are locked into power: it feels bleak this morning. We all have to think differently now; Scotland is going in the opposite direction to the UK Govt; it will take more than bluff and bluster to hold the UK together.


Scottish Govt. has at last decided, that private schools will lose charitable status in September 2020 – almost three years after the Barclay Report. Clarification of what qualifies as ‘charitable activity’ was long overdue and the favouring of elitist education was the most obvious distortion; progress.


A long-time believer in the inevitability of a guaranteed basic income, I’m very interested in the experimental SEED project in Stockton, California. For 18 months, the town will be paying 100 families $500 monthly – no strings. The learning is from how they use it.


“They once dominated the political culture of Scotland – but the Herald and the Scotsman now struggle to hold power to account”. This Guardian piece sketches the crisis of Scotland’s press – where ongoing cuts to reporters have compromised its ability to hold our politicians and public life to adequate scrutiny.


I’m vaguely aware that we are to have a Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) – but I have no understanding of its significance. George Kerevan is both an academic economist and an excellent journalist – here he discusses the appointment last week of Willie Wall as the Bank’s first chairman.


Margaret (Meg) Wheatley – is a warrior of the human spirit. Her book – What Do We Choose to Be? – is a tribute to the importance of local leadership in chaotic times.

“It is possible, in this time of profound disruption, for leadership to be a noble profession that contributes to the common good. It is possible, as we face the fearful complexity of life-destroying problems, to experience recurring moments of grace and joy. It is possible to find a path of contribution and meaning if we turn our attention away from issues beyond our control and focus on the people around us who are yearning for good leadership and engage them in work that is within reach. It is possible to use our influence and power to create islands of sanity in the midst of a wildly destructive sea.”

The last in our series of local gatherings seeking feedback from the sector to help shape and inform the next SE Action Plan – took place in Moray and West Lothian last week. After hosting 5 SE Reference Sub-Groups involving frontline social enterprises and membership-led organisations, Senscot, with Social Firms Scotland and Scottish Community Alliance, has in recent months engaged directly with over 500 social enterprises at 13 local events. All feedback has been passed on to Social Value Lab who will collate the information to add to the responses (circa 300) to their own recent Action Plan survey – and then fed into Government as the new Action Plan takes shape. Covering so many organisations and events has resulted in a high volume of feedback and wide range of views/opinions. However, there have been a number of recurring themes that emerged at all the meetings. These have included: greater transparency in the decision-making process; better and more regular communication about what is being funded; local decision-making and local delivery wherever possible (bottom-up – not top down); better alignment with other Govt policy areas; and, critically, establishing a clear and consistent resource available to support local SENs. See overview of key points. Also, see note of recent Cross-Party Group on Social Enterprise on same theme.

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

Earlier this year, we highlighted a report by the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), that was arguing that the basic human right to food should be made directly enforceable in Scots Law. Last week, on the same theme, SHRC and Nourish Scotland launched a new 90 second animation on the Right to Food in Scotland – explaining what the Right to Food means, and what’s needed to make it real for people in Scotland – echoing previous calls by both organisations to put the Right to Food into Scotland’s laws.


Following the recent launch of the draft Scottish Tourism Strategy – and the increasing opportunities for social and community enterprises – Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise are now launching a new programme – Communities Leading in Tourism – focusing on enabling communities to shape the development of tourism in their locality. The online/residential programme, to be delivered by the SE Academy, will run between January – March 2020. Closing date for applications – Monday 16th Dec.


In the first of two P4P blogs for December, the Scottish Govt’s, Scott Bell, (Head of Procurement Development and Construction) discusses how public sector buyers can better leverage procurement spend to help achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Read it here.


 Frontline News: The new Broomhouse Hub was officially opened last month. News this week that it has  now been shortlisted for the Regeneration Project of the Year at the 2019 Scottish Property Awards:

Scottish Borders Community Learning Exchange (CLE) in partnership with Inspiralba will now be taking place on 4th Feb – focusing on learning and sharing the experiences of SEs in rural areas – see booking form: Firstport, last week, launched its new funding programme – Boost It – offering awards between £30-50K to social enterprises responding to climate emergency and environmental issues. Closing date – 3rd Feb 2020.


This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow-based social enterprise that has the primary aim of removing the disadvantage faced by people with disabilities. Workforce Creation provides high quality technical internships and work placement for recent graduates, with physical and learning disability, in their required discipline – who in most cases have never had the chance to be independent or to work at removing barriers to inclusion. Workforce Creation’s innovative approach to training with both theoretical and practical-based work experience was first piloted through Imteqpro – a community minded business who supported their approach – with the pilot picking up a number of awards.