Senscot Bulletin: 14.07.17

Dear members and friends,

In the garden – on my knees with a trowel – a blissful trance.  Become vaguely aware of someone speaking – look up to a tall, thin student-type – respectfully asking me to fill his water bottle.  To my own surprise, I round on him angrily for this intrusion – the inconvenience of it; get his refill grudgingly.  Later I try to justify my rudeness – but can’t.  It’s no surprise to me that I harbour such selfish impulses – but to let them spill out is not acceptable; I’m ashamed and need to ponder this outburst.
            Next day, uptown for a haircut, I pop into Waterstones for a browse and a bowl of soup.  Going up to the café, I share the lift with a chap in an electric wheelchair; I’m determined to be a model of attentive courtesy – (which I suspect disabled people hate).  When the lift stops, he can’t get his chair to reverse – wheels squint; his body language says ‘leave me alone’ but I’m ineptly trying to assist.  Without warning the lift slams shut and whisks him away; I’m left standing – wishing I’d kept out of it.
            I wonder if this growing impulse to withdraw is an inevitable aspect of old age.  Early in life our own needs dominate – then, when we are less needy, a period when we can see and respond to the needs of others.  Eventually the whole thing goes into reverse – more and more energy going back into meeting our basic survival needs.  Then I think: for goodness sake – all that guy wanted was a drink of water.


Lots of my friends are on holiday – or preparing to go; the formal political process and much of civil society moves into recess. Theresa May, Brexit negotiations, Tory austerity – they limp on, but petering out. The popular movement, symbolised by Jeremy Corbyn’s honesty – seems to be next – but no one knows how. Antonio Gramsci wrote ‘The old is dying and the new cannot be born – in the interim a great variety of morbid symptoms are born’ (Boris Johnston, Donald Trump). Established power groupings haven’t yet fully realised – that in this age of social media societal change is happening out with their control – even out with their awareness; even during the holidays. Good piece in Social Europe.


What we call social investment is based on an intentional misrepresentation – to which the English govt, is party; namely that the third sector can be sustained through loan finance – when everyone knows it can’t. If the loan you require is ‘secured’ – you’re cheaper going to a mainstream bank – most do. But as Steve Wyler said recently: "If you’re working in a poor community – and you require a small unsecured loan – the social investment market just isn’t there for you". Substantial social lenders are increasingly rejigging funds to get money out the door – but they’re still speaking to a market that doesn’t exist.


The Swedish car company, Volvo, has announced that all their cars will be fully electric – or at least hybrid – by 2019. Zoe Williams writes that is it impossible to overstate the significance of this decision – not only for the motor industry, but for climate change; her piece touches on the role ethical business can play in shaping society for the better. She includes a lovely portrait by American physicist Amory Lovins: of a future lightweight solar car; because it stores its own energy, its range is infinite; running costs virtually nil. Solar power isn’t there yet – I wonder if we’ll get there in time.


Andy’s out, but I’m enjoying the annual Wimbledon festival (Muller v Nadal, Wow) – grateful that it has not yet been consumed by the Sky Empire – like the cricket and rugby Test matches. Keeping major sporting events ‘free to view’ – is important for the cohesion of the nation – shared common experiences. The most vivid example of this in my own life is the demise of the game of golf in Scotland – now virtually disappeared from national conversation. Worldwide (for money), golf’s ruling bodies have consented to the confinement of their sport behind Sky’s paywall; because the majority can’t, or won’t, pay the monthly fee – grassroots participation has plummeted. Can you name a single Scottish golfer. Paul Rouse on the impact of pay tv on sport.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Rocket Science UK Ltd, Partick Thistle Charitable Trust, Age Scotland Enterprises Ltd, Community Alliance Trust, Social Enterprise Academy, WHALE Arts, The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands)
EVENTS: Social in the Gardens, 02 Aug; Create a Teddy Bear Cake Topper, 18 Aug; Fife Soup 1, 01 Sep; DTA Scotland Annual Conference & AGM 2017, 04 Sep; Bake & Decorate 6 Cupcakes, 18 Sep
TENDERS: Consultancy to develop a new Tourism and Events Development Plan – Stirling Council, Provision of Transport Contracts – Taxi/PHC – Perth & Kinross Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: The Scottish Government is currently developing a National Diet and Obesity Strategy. In common with other countries in the developed world Scotland faces a significant challenge from rising levels of obesity This is an area that a number of social enterprises and SEN members expressed an interest in earlier this year – either to share experience, learn or look at opportunities for joint working. We want to see the knowledge and experience of social enterprises in addressing obesity reflected in the national strategy and therefore invite you to a Joint Thematic SEN discussion on this issue. Tony Rednall from the Scottish Govt’s Creating Health Team (who are leading on the strategy) will join the SEN discussion. Book your place through EventBrite or contact for further information.


The power of the Scottish govt’s Pupil Equity Fund is that it delivers a ‘spend’ directly to head teachers to help each individual school tackle the attainment gap. The tender document drafted by Edin. City council – appears designed to restrict this power. This extract includes clause 4 (highlighted) – which says tenders will be ranked 30% on quality and 70% on price; this seems an extraordinary call, given that these are compensatory, specialist services for children already disadvantaged. Each head teacher – in each community – is best placed to choose providers; that’s the whole point of this measure.


Tuesday saw the publication of Matthew Taylor’s review of what we call the Gig economy; lots of suggestions (which would require legislation) to improve the pay and conditions of the casual workforce. But the core issue is not as simple as Gig workers seeking more secure employment/benefits – employers resisting. There is clear evidence of a growing number of people choosing more flexible working arrangements – to fit around other life priorities: caring for children or infirm parents; creating art – or an exploratory business idea. The future challenge is how the state collects a contribution from casual workers for health and pension provision.


Mark Zuckerberg – who is brilliant at tax avoidance – has now taken to promoting a universal basic income paid by the state (UBI); he’s quite explicit: "It comes from conservative principles of smaller govt – rather that progressive principles of a larger safety net". Facebook, along with other tax dodgers like Google, Amazon etc. – realise that artificial intelligence and automation will gradually spell the end of most jobs; they’re concerned about future customers having some money. I still believe that UBI is inevitable – but first we have to get these chancers to pay their taxes. As Sonia Sodha writes in the Guardian – ‘Zuckerberg’s got some cheek’.


This week’s bulletin profiles a community interest company whose focus is to reduce loneliness and isolation and provide compassionate social support promoting inclusion and re-orientation. The No.1 Befriending Agency, based in Govan, provides three specific services that include an Outreach team; the Supported Living service; and Live-in care. Each service offers a distinct service that is committed to providing the best possible support to all users and delivered by a staff team with the necessary sensitivity, skills and experience. The No. 1 Befriending Agency is also part of Firstport’s LaunchMe Accelerator Programme.


The evolution of the human species cannot be seperated from storytelling – a ‘hardwired’ brain function. This is Ursula le Guin:


"So people seek the irreproducible moment, the brief, fragile community of story told among people gathered together in one place. So children gather at the library to be read to: look at the little circle of faces, blazing with intensity. So the writer on a book tour, reading in the bookstore, and her group of listeners reenact the ancient ritual of the teller at the center of the circle. The living response has enabled that voice to speak. Teller and listener, each fulfills the other’s expectations. The living tongue that tells the word, the living ear that hears it, bind and bond us in the communion we long for in the silence of our inner solitude."
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