Senscot Bulletin: 15.05.15

Dear members and friends,


Sunday was my 75th birthday – treating myself to 10 days at the beach near Estepona; temp. 78 degrees – shorts and bare feet – the heat and light all encompassing.  Smells of the sea, fresh coffee, tanning oil, sounds of the surf and happy Spanish voices from the kitchen.  Physically, it’s becoming a challenge to get myself out here – but still worth it.
            Looking at Scotland from Pepe’s beach bar is different – like stepping back from a picture to see it more clearly.  It’s suddenly obvious that, for some time, the Scottish people have been racing ahead of the political parties and pundits.  Politically, we’re moving in the opposite direction from England, the Labour party, long asleep, simply fell into the widening gap; the usually restrained Neal Ascherson writes as though ‘independence day has already dawned’.  There will now be endless analysis of the reasons and meanings of Scotland’s extraordinary declaration; the best I’ve read so far is by historian Tom Devine – masterful.  And yet human behaviour – individuals or nations – can only be partly understood in terms of rational analysis; we sense intuitively, powerful unconscious influences; irrational, archetypal; these are the most interesting.
On Sunday I’m heading up into the mountains around Ronda for lunch – to friends in one of the white villages which the Moors pinned to the slopes of the Genal river valley.  This valley, these villages and the fortress town of Ronda itself – have special romance and significance for me – my ‘imagined’ Andalucia – before the distortions of tourism.  More next week.


In the 15 years I’ve contributed to this bulletin – I can’t remember ever referencing anything from Stuart Etherington. He leads NCVO (England’s leading third sector umbrella body) which has conspicuously failed to resist Tory distortion of our sector – payment by results; SIBs; social investment – the lot. But his election-day letter is worth reading for its warning to the English sector about Govt encroachment. It also reminds we Scots that the new Tory Govt will now renew its efforts to push private commerce into third sector territory; commercial social investment; commercial social enterprise; commercial social care etc. Thankfully these are mainly devolved matters – and, to date, our Govt has shown no appetite for this direction of travel.


Some areas of England held Council elections the same day as the general election. A reader sent this message via facebook. It says that in Frome, Somerset – a group of local people – under the name ‘Independents of Frome’ won every single seat on the local Council. No Labour – no Lib-Dems – no Tories. Just local people taking control of their own community. Awesome. One area where the SNP is suspect is its indifference to local democracy. No media commentator is more aware of this deficiency than Lesley Riddoch.


‘Progress is improvement in how we treat each other’ – a good definition of ‘progressive’ policies. I went to vote Green last week – but there was no candidate – so I happily joined the SNP deluge. But under PR – I expect a major Green surge in next year’s Holyrood elections – radical policies based on human values; it’s important that we hold somewhere a vision of the world as it should be – a benchmark.  In contrast, it looks as though the Tories will now launch a ruthless attack on our welfare state – which will bring people on to the streets. It’s building to confrontation


There are currently about 190 accredited Living Wage employers in Scotland – and our First Minister has set a target of 500 with her vision of Scotland being a ‘Living Wage nation’. The Living Wage is something that, in principle, you would think our sector would embrace – however, we are aware that for a good number of social enterprises putting this in to practice is more of a challenge. You may think this same ‘challenge’ would apply to our SME sector – but a poll this week would contradict that view – with 96% of respondents supporting paying the Living Wage. Their most common reason – “it shows that companies value their employees and is mutually beneficial – increasing motivation, loyalty and productivity”.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Green Aspirations Scotland CIC, Dumbarton Road Corridor Environment Trust, Kilwinning Community Sports Club, West Lothian Drug & Alcohol Service, Raploch Community Partnership
EVENTS: Launch of Enterprising Third Sector Support in West Lothian, 28 May; Citizen Wellbeing Assembly Scotland, 26 Jun; Nesta Spotlight on Crowdfunding, 20 Oct;
TENDERS: Counselling Services to Reduce Alcohol and Drug Misuse (future contract opportunity) – The City of Edinburgh Council, Community Housing Alliance Business Plan – Scottish Rural Housing Partnership, Dementia Awareness and Support – Scottish Borders Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update; Over the past year, Senscot has been approached about the possibility of setting up a new thematic SEN – covering ‘Employability’. This has been triggered, in part, by factors such as: the number of SEN members engaged in employability programmes (Community Jobs Scotland etc); the Employability Pipelines delivered by Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs); and the implications of employability matters being devolved to Scottish Govt. Specifically in regard to the Employability Pipeline, many SEN members have been seeking to form consortia to bid for contracts advertised via Public Contracts Scotland. Senscot, in partnership with Social Firms Scotland, will be exploring this further over the coming months. If you are interested or want to know more, contact  See more


The Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015 is still ongoing – over 900 SEs having already participated in the online survey (see link above). This census is seeking to capture the size, scale and reach of SE in Scotland – for the first time. The survey takes around 15/20 minutes to complete. Your participation is very much appreciated. See more background


Reminder: Closing date for the Partnership and Procurement Support Co-ordinator post with Senscot is Monday 18th May 2015.You can download full application pack here.
Social Investment Scotland (SIS) will be launching their new SIS Community Capital Fund next week. This new fund will be aiming to raise £500k from individual UK investors by utilising the government’s new Social Investment Tax Relief scheme (SITR) – with the intention of connecting this new form of investment with third sector organisations across Scotland. Pauline Hinchion (SCRT) comments: “SIS’s new Community Capital Fund is certainly a step in the right direction in addressing third sector concerns about the ‘cost of finance’ that previous SCRT research has highlighted – as well as offering private investors the opportunity to do good with their money.  However, SCRT believes the big agenda is to get individuals and organisations from the third sector investing in the sector to its mutual benefit and to the communities it serves".


Back to the general election. The pollsters didn’t cover themselves in glory – so the following link may be treated with some caution. However, a ‘Lord Ashcroft’ poll on how folk in the voluntary sector voted in last week’s election provides some figures that may surprise you. Bear in mind, it’s a UK-wide poll.


Eric Munro was in touch this week to announce that RBS’new £2.5m Skills & Opportunities Fund is open for applications until 12 noon on Friday 22 May. Grants up to £35k are available to SEs, community groups, state funded schools and colleges working to help people in disadvantaged communities. See details


This week’s bulletin profiles a newly formed social enterprise in West Lothian that is based around seasonal woodland enterprises. Beechbrae, located near Blackridge and a member of West Lothian SEN, offers healthy and high quality home grown produce created through sensitive use of the land and give training to show people better ways of using the land. It is a sustainable enterprise that is looking to create a sustainable environment through a woodland management programme that combines the needs of people and the environment. Beechbrae currently oversees and orchard – with 60 varieties of fruit trees; a 35 acre woodland; as well as producing their own Blackridge Woodland honey and a range of organic potatoes. See more


One of the core Taoist teachings is called ‘wei wu wei’ – literally ‘doing not-doing’ – which has been seen as passivity. Nothing could be further from the truth. A good athlete can enter a state of body-awareness in which the right stroke or the right movement happens by itself, effortlessly, without any interference of the conscious will. This is a paradigm for non-action: the purest and most effective form of action. The game plays the game: the poem writes the poem; we can’t tell the dance from the dancer.


Tao Te Ching – section 48: “In the pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added. In the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped. Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It can’t be gained by interfering”.


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




Subscribe to this bulletin:


To unsubscribe or change subscription address/ e-mail


Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210