Senscot Bulletin: 15.01.16

Dear members and friends,


Kevin McKenna reflects in this piece about how comfortably we live alongside entrenched poverty – polishing our deprivation stories to impress liberal leftie friends. The community development profession I joined in the 1970s, has mostly failed in Scotland – turned its back on communities to deliver state programmes; elite discussions about the relative merits of ‘area based initiatives’ and ‘strategic partnerships’ – like formulating colonial policy. I understand community work differently.
‘Deprived’ communities don’t ‘belong’ to the local authority or some rural laird; sovereignty rests with the people who live there – you need to ask them whether you’re welcome – negotiate a role. Even if you have useful middle class skills to share – the residents know much more than you about living there – you need to listen. A core imperative of community development is that local people – as quickly as possible – must lead any programme in their area; as leadership became downgraded to ‘community engagement’ – the jerseys were sold.
There’s a powerful impulse deep down in people to organise – to build community; it seems to be a primal energy – ‘like the ooze of oil crushed’. I easily envisage thousands of local groups – growing in confidence – taking increasing responsibility for their communities. Councils have no money now – their habitual determination to cling to power is softening – they are looking to communities to fill the gaps. The danger now comes from the state’s blind instinct to take control of whatever it funds. The gradual expansion of our independent community sector is very different from it being absorbed into state provision.


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I’m a big fan of Jeremy Corbyn – and the more he is rubbished in the establishment media (including the BBC and the Guardian), the more enthusiastic I become. When the mass membership of the Labour Party chose him so overwhelmingly, it was a great boost to those of us who dream of a new politics – a new economics – a society where the structural inequalities of market economics are softened. The membership wants Corbyn to realign their Party nearer its founding principles – and they chose well; he has an authentic alternative vision – not only the end but the means; he has courage and patience. He is a conviction politician surrounded by ‘meal ticket’ politicians who want rid of him – but, if he survives, I believe his new way of doing politics has widespread support and will gather momentum. See more.


Johnston Press (the Scotsman) has announcedits intention to prune a further 32 jobs in Scotland; the print media must be close to the stage when it can no longer sustain a quality product.  Scotland is well served by online journalism – investigative platforms like the Ferret provide an essential scrutiny of the elites which erode our democracy (see recent articleand guest list) – but I never thought we would lose the Scotsman and Herald – our National press.  The future may incline towards media trusts: social enterprises, providing financial stability for independent journalism.


Worrying article in the Guardian about commercial fostering agencies; eight agencies cleared £41m profit last year providing foster placements to local authorities.  This was in England and Wales – because in Scotland it’s illegal for commercial firms to provide foster care; maximising profit and deciding what’s best for a child are seen as conflicting interests.  But the UK Govt. is unapologetic about this – they are determined that every area of public service will be exposed to market pressure; Serco may soon be delivering child protectiondown south.   


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Re-Union Canal Boats Ltd, StepUp Shoeshine CIC, Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, The Larder Cookery School, The Amos Scripture Care Trust, Young Scot,
EVENTS: Media Training-Edinburgh, 21 Jan; Intro to Web Design, 25 Jan; Market Research Techniques, 27 Jan; Unincorporated associations – Risks and solutions, 28 Jan; Tendering for Practitioners-Glasgow, 2 Feb
TENDERS: Bid Writing Services / Research and Mapping Consultancy – The Wise Group, Employability Skills Pipeline Service – South Ayrshire Council, Disabilities Complex Care – The City of Edinburgh Council & more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Senscot Legal is coming to the end of its 5th year of trading. It began trading in February 2011 – to provide social enterprises and the wider third sector with legal services that were both accessible and affordable. During this period, it has worked with over 500 organisations from all parts of the country and from a wide range of specific sectors – including: culture; housing; sport; health; community food; community orgs; as well as national intermediaries. Services covered include Company set up and structures; employment law; governance; property/leases; policies/procedures; dispute resolution; contracts; as well as other areas. Senscot Legal is also in demand to provide seminars/workshops on subjects of organisations’ choosing. If you’d be interested in Senscot Legal’s services, contact


The Scottish Independent Regeneration Forum (SURF) has produced its manifesto for this year’s Scottish elections in May. As part of this process, they conducted a consultation over the last 18 months that suggests that many of the regeneration resources designed to tackle poverty are ending up in affluent areas and commercial centres – and are, in fact, counter-productively increasing inequality. The manifesto’s key recommendations include:  Identifying 15 strategic places to deliver sustained and coordinated investment; and introducing a statutory duty for supporting socio-economic equity in all public policy.


Senscot will be holding its 16th AGM on Friday 4th March at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh (10.30 – 1.30pm). Prior to the AGM, we will be hosting a discussion session looking at “the implications – challenges, opportunities and risks – for social enterprise and the third sector in playing an increasing role in public service delivery”. Our keynote speaker on the day will be Barry Knight from Centris – the Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Policy Ltd. Barry has, in the past, worked as an advisor to UK Govts on economic development and the third sector. To book your place – see Booking Form


Another area where the private profit model doesn’t fit is the ownership of football clubs – loved and sustained by their fan base; Senscot has long supported fan ownership.  Supporters Direct Scotland are punting the idea of a new collective pot – which would make affordable loans to help fans buy their clubs.  The pot would be fed by ‘social’ investors – attracted by the 30 per cent tax relief. As loans were repaid – the process would become self-financing.


Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) were a much heralded mechanism to attract private money into social projects – but if failed to fly.  The hype was impressive but they were too complex – too expensive to set up – the promised benefits elusive – I thought they were gone.  Then, in his autumn statement, Osborne announces £80m for SIBs!  What!  I smell a deal which none of us will hear about.  Meanwhile yet another reportsurfaces about that ‘pathfinder’ Peterborough SIB – which was shelved; is anybody bothered? 


This week’s bulletin profiles a community co-operative on the island of Barra – Buth Bharraigh. Set up following a BIG Lottery Investing in Ideas grant in 2012, Buth Bharraigh opened its shop in Castlebay in 2013 and has been part of Firstport’s Launch Me initiative. Buth Bharraigh is now self-sustaining without any grant funding. The shop stocks a range of items from local and organic food; crafts; and knitwear. Many items are upcycled with the majority of work being carried out by volunteers – with the majority of the money spent in the Buth going to their 80-odd suppliers and producers – either local individuals or community groups. 


Elizabeth Kubler -Ross (1926-2004) was a Swiss born psychiatrist who pioneered methods of support and counselling associated with death and dying.  Her model of how the ‘cycle of grief’ affects us (5 stages) is still widely influential.


“You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to…….The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen”. 


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