Senscot Bulletin: 15.08.14

Dear members and friends,

            The time has come around for my cataract op – the most common surgical procedure in the whole NHS – 95% success rate – yet I’m scared.  Apparently you’re awake throughout (45 minutes); an incision is made in the cornea – cataract removed – new lens inserted.  My rational brain tells me its routine – to calm down – but older deeper instincts are fearful.
            75 paces from my front door – overlooking an old graveyard – is a wee museum; it houses some early Christian sculptured stones found around here – my favourite a 14 foot standing cross (late 7th century).  The room is unlocked – I pop in from time to time – spend 5 minutes with these ancient silent fragments – listen to their stories – Pictish, Anglian, Norman, Viking; they tell me everything is always changing – yet there is nothing new under the sun.  When I reframe the present in the sweep of the centuries – I get a better sense of proportion.
            While this bulletin goes out today (15th August) I expect to be attending the NHS Golden Jubilee Hospital, Clydebank (Please be prepared to stay with us up to six hours from your admission time.  We would advise you not to make any other arrangements on the day of your surgery).   I’ve been informed that a nurse will hold my hand during the operation – which is something I feel good about; someone attentive – with a grip of me – to help contain my fear.  She can also alert the surgeon if I start to lose it; hope I don’t make a fool of myself.     


For some time, our attention has been focussed on the distribution of democratic power between Holyrood and Westminster and between the UK and Europe; but more attention should be given to Scotland’s internal democratic structure which ranks amongst the most ineffectual in Europe. A remarkably visionary Report was published this week by the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy which, wisely, does not attempt to offer a blueprint for change – rather it offers radical ideas around which vigorous debate can be framed.  Regardless of the Indy vote outcome – the issue of local democracy needs to move up the agenda; ‘50 years of centralising has not worked’. Andy Wightman blogs enthusiastically about the new Report – placing it in context with his own Report for the Green Party. See,


Jonathan Coburn, on behalf of Social Value Lab (SVL), is circulating an excellent, concise paper about the ‘sharing economy’ – exploring its relevance for the SE community in Scotland. Exactly one year ago, Senscot posted a report on the same subject from New Start Magazine – See, This was at pains to distinguish between transactions which come out of a genuine culture of sharing – and those which are thinly veiled commercial enterprises. SVL intends to explore whether there is the scope and commitment for more effective collaboration amongst Scottish SEs. See,


Two entertainers whom I respect died this week – Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams. Bacall was 89 – seems to have had a full and fulfilling life – leaves moments on film which helped shape our modern fairy tales. I still watch the Big Sleep – although I know chunks of the dialogue by heart. See,  Robin Williams (see end piece) is an altogether sadder story; the combination of depression and ‘the drink’ has been around my own life – and the lives of friends. It is a self-reinforcing loop of isolation – which so often leads to the conviction that ‘ending it’ would be best for everyone. Decca Aitkenhead interviewed Williams four years ago – with hindsight, you can tell he’s not well. See,


I find that I’m starting to care too much about the Indy vote; I don’t like the fact that anger is creeping in towards those with opposing views; I’ll make a conscious effort to step back a bit. This is the most important vote in my lifetime – but the sovereign will of the people is a core belief; after a period of celebration/mourning we’ll all need to get on with it – together! See,


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Bridgend Inspiring Growth , WorkingRite, RAMH, Ladywood Leisure Centre, Edinburgh University Students’ Association, The Church of Scotland, McSence Group
EVENTS: Unique Dyslexic – Get Creative, Music Workshop, 18 Aug; Dearest Scotland, 19 Aug; Miss.Fit Sister’s Vintage Circus, 23 Aug; Out of the Blue Flea Market, 30 Aug;
TENDERS: Website design and development – Link Group, Council Building’s Waste – South Lanarkshire Council, Volunteer-Led Generalist Advice Services – Stirling Council.  


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Legacy 2014: Sustainable Sport for Communities is a £1m Fund established with £500k of Scottish Government 2014 Legacy Funds and £500k from The Robertson Trust.  The overarching goal of the Fund is to support more sports social enterprises to be able to own and/or manage facilities and deliver sustainable services which meet the needs of their communities. Strand 2 of the Fund, which opened for applications on 11th August, offers sports social enterprises the opportunity to apply for up to £30,000 of support towards the direct costs of employing a Business Development Officer,  or similar post, with the aim of developing the organisation, its services and its financial sustainability through the adoption of a social enterprise model. See more

For more SENs News, see


The Observer this week carried an article by Yvonne Roberts – journalist and activist – about the role of the modern state. It’s an edited extract of a think piece she has just written for the Centre for Labour and Social Studies ( Roberts believes that there is not enough thinking being done about the purpose/function of the post neo-liberal state. How to resolve the tension between the individual and the collective; how to constrain the most powerful and restore the value of the common good. There is widening international acceptance – that by concentrating wealth on an ever narrowing band of people – capitalism is making itself unsustainable. But the ones with all the money – won’t go quietly.



Last week’s debate in the Parliament – about SE and how to advance it – was picked up by the USA Magazine, Nonprofit Quarterly. Our new Procurement Reform Bill is cited as a model which the USA not for profits may wish to pursue  Meantime, Ready for Business has published valuable research which indicates that the Third Sector is becoming a major supplier of goods and services to Scotland’s local authorities – and suggests that the third sector accounts for around £1 in every £5 of Council procurement spend. The availability of this kind of quality information empowers our sector. Instead of the big corporate contractors – typically headquartered in tax havens – Council procurement could support local economies. See,


The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill was put before the Scottish Parliament in June 2014. The Scottish Govt – in partnership with Glasgow Disability Alliance – has produced this very helpful, ‘Easy Read’ Version. See,


This week’s bulletin profiles an enterprise out of the Forth Sector stable – EES Logos (incorporating Thompsons of Edinburgh). EES Logos (previously the Embroidery Service) now works in partnership with Thompsons in providing embroidered and printed corporate clothing, uniforms, school clothing and work wear. Typically these items are sweatshirts, polo shirts, fleeces, and sports kit – but can also include pennants, flags etc. In providing this service, EES Logos provides work and training for people who find it harder to access mainstream employment due to a variety of reasons – with the objective of operating businesses which are commercially viable and which provide real work environments within which people can flourish. For more see,


Sad news this week that Robin Williams has left us; he was a fine actor and, by repute, human being.  I will long remember him as the psychiatrist Sean Maguire in the film Good Will Hunting; helping the brilliant – but wounded – Will Hunting (Matt Damon) to find the courage to love someone.

            “If I asked you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet.  But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable.  Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you.  Who could rescue you from the depths of hell.  And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have the love for her, be there forever through anything…  You don’t know about real loss, cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself.  And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much”. See,

That’s all for this week.   

Best wishes,


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