Senscot Bulletin: 14.02.20

A friend mentions casually that a ‘Tik Tok’, created by her teenage grand-daughter, has gained over 100,000 views in a week; she explains that a ‘Tik Tok’ is a short video on the ByteDance platform – that this viewing level is not particularly unusual. Scotland doesn’t have a stadium that holds 100,000 – it’s staggering that an anonymous teenager has such reach from her bedroom laptop. It ‘hits’ me once again, that radical things are happening on the internet, which we need to understand better.

There is understandable parental concern, around how the internet affects children: brain development, addiction, social pressure, mental health; but I think an even more fundamental issue relates to the ownership and regulation of the entire medium; do we try for public ownership, like the NHS – or are we already stuck with the billionaire monopolists who collect and manipulate our data. The overall balance of forces in society, which will shape this decision, is one of the pivotal issues of our time. Are we content to let the market decide – or are there certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honour.

Some claim that humans have only ever survived/prospered in ‘co-operation’; the competitive individualism, that pervades modern life, is neither natural nor inevitable – must be challenged. The world economy, and our world wide web, can just as easily be organised on the basis of collective human wellbeing; some say we are fast approaching a time when there will be no alternative.


Though Scottish politics feels ‘marooned’ just now, Irish politics has burst into life with the revival of Sinn Fein – at the expense of the two centrist parties which have dominated for 100 years; if you’re not Irish, it’s not immediately obvious why this is so sensational. Fintan O’Toole, in the Irish Times, conveys some of the drama; that a party, rooted in violence and trauma, has been invited by the voters to contribute to a peaceful democracy – bringing a leftist perspective to very real domestic crises in health and housing provision. O’Toole calls the election result: ‘a bold gamble on the possibility of Irish politics becoming settled and mundane; a desire for normality’.


Scotland’s Makar, Jackie Kay, has written a moving obituary in the Guardian for her adoptive father, John Kay, who has died aged 94. John was a political organiser, with a lifelong passion for socialism, books, ideas and music. One discerns from his life a humanity and a Scottishness to admire.


It’s impressive how deeply the ‘zero waste’ theme has penetrated our everyday consciousness – as though we know we’re on borrowed time. I find ‘circular economy’ a helpful concept – everything used and re-used for as long as possible. Here’s website of the Circular Economy Accelerator – full of good ideas/examples.


Ray Dalio is another billionaire to pronounce that the capitalist system which created his fortune ($19bn) is no longer sustainable; the problem is to imagine what comes next. This is the review of a book called ‘Twenty first century socialism’ by Jeremy Gilbert. Short and accessible enough for my bookshelf.


His use of obscure words grates, but I visit Janan Ganesh’s column in the FT Weekend. This week he pokes fun at the ‘wellness’ industry – saying ‘they sweat the small stuff’; that happiness requires only two basic things: a fulfilling job and a vital private life – the rest is peripheral. Carl Jung would say that humans have a deep spiritual need to find ‘meaning’; Ganesh would scoff.


The poet, William Martin, from a mining community in Sunderland, died in 2010, aged 85; ‘He never lost his vision of what the world could be like’. Here’s his poem, ‘Do not ask your children to strive’.

“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

Senscot’s 20th AGM takes place on Friday, 6th March 2020 at the Grassmarket Centre in Edinburgh. The AGM will be following up on the resolution approved at last year’s AGM in May 2019 – as well as reflecting on the outcome of the SE Intermediary Review in which Senscot has been involved. As part of the event, we are hosting a discussion/debate on issues of particular relevance to the frontline social enterprise community in Scotland – in partnership with Glasgow Caley’s Atlantic Social Lab. The theme of our discussion will be – ‘Sustaining a favourable climate for Scotland’s social enterprise sector’ – and will explore: how investment, to date, has enhanced the climate for social enterprises; how this support should be maintained; what are the gaps – and how can they be filled; what is working well – and how this can be built upon. On the day, we anticipate that we will have some early indications on the shape of the new SE Action Plan – whether it will follow a similar approach as the current one – or look to take a more radical approach to ensure a greater spread of support and resources to those on the frontline, working in local communities. The Senscot AGM will follow the discussion session. Places are filling up pretty fast – with space still available for about 10 folk. To sign up, see –  Registration Form.

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

This week’s Scottish Community Alliance (SCA) Briefing draws our attention to the ending of the Climate Challenge Fund – which, over 10 years, invested £100m in over 1000 communities – and asks what comes next. There’s talk of Regional Climate Hubs and Climate Action Towns – all very familiar – but little evidence of detail or discussions with the community sector – again pretty familiar. SCA and 17 of its member networks have written to the Cabinet Secretary, Roseanne Cunningham, voicing concern at this lack of engagement. Commonspace has picked up on the letter and followed up with this article.


With ESF coming to an end in 2020, Scottish Govt is carrying out a consultation to seek views on how any replacement funding vehicle (the Shared Prosperity Fund) could best meet the needs of citizens, businesses and local communities. Nearly everyone in our sector is aware of the vital contribution ESF Funds have made in reducing disparities between different parts of the country – for over 40 years. Having sought views from respective members, Senscot, Social Firms Scotland and Scottish Community Alliance have submitted this response. It’s quite long but this, in part, only serves to reflect the range and reach of Scotland’s third sector – and the importance of its contribution towards Scottish Govt’s National Performance Framework.


Frontline News: Edinburgh SE – who recently published their Annual Report 2019 – will be hosting ‘Social Stories on Thurs, 20th Feb at the Crannie – when six social entrepreneurs will be sharing their experiences:

Grow 73 aims to help people of all ages and abilities to grow their own produce, lead more sustainable lives and support local biodiversity. They are currently looking to recruiting two sessional community gardeners:

New applications for Community Learning Exchanges for this year have now been put on hold. Funds for 2019/20 have now been fully allocated. They are currently awaiting confirmation of funding for 2020/21.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise, based in the Grampian area, that has been set up with three social objectives: to increase participation in ‘free spirit’ sports and physical activities in Grampian; to improve the health and wellbeing of the Grampian population and beyond; and to close the attainment gap in the Grampian area through physical activity and ‘free spirit’ sports. Movement Evolution Scotland CIC is determined to ensure that children have the opportunity to access quality movement education and a variety of sports which will encourage them to discover a lifelong love of physical activity. They do so by creating environments which promote learning through fun and freedom – allowing young people to develop their athletic ability and grow to become socially skilled, confident, healthy individuals.