Dear members and friends,
Couple of skilled tradesmen in my house this week – Tommy, renewing the vinyl flooring in my kitchen and bathroom (3 hours); Dode, fitting a new radiator in my bedroom (4 hours). No fuss – no mess; thanks, lads – see you next time. I often wish that, like them, I’d learned a trade that just ‘does things’ – rather than the nebulous world of community development.
For around 40 years, I was a community worker in various housing estates – an occupation I was, and remain, proud of – but alas, not one for which I was best suited. My style was too conspicuous, too ‘in your face’ – too driven; my pace, not attuned to community need as much as my own manic impatience. I always knew, though, that I was working for the local community – was not an agent of the local state. This remains an unresolved tension in that world – captured in Tom Leonard’s great poem: ‘Liaison Coordinator’.
Although I didn’t start writing this blog until I was sixty – I’m enjoying learning the craft of ‘storytelling’. It is not as tangible or immediate as carpentry or plumbing – but more discernible than community work. In a 1958 interview, Ernest Hemingway described his craft: “From all the things that you know and all those you cannot know – you make something through your invention, that is not a representation but a whole new thing, truer than anything true or alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality”. Wow! – my own aspirations are more modest.
Many thanks to all those individuals and organisation who have responded to our call for contributions to the cost of producing this bulletin. Each year, we look for 100 individuals to become full company members – and around 25 organisations to become associate members. As we close this year’s ‘call’ – we now have 119 full members; and 24 associates – jointly contributing around £7k. Once again, many thanks for your ongoing support. Please check members page – to make sure your listed.
Lots of praise for a book called – ‘A Party with Socialists in it: A History of the Labour Left’, by Simon Hannah; although the author is a young, left-wing, labour activist – his approach is unsparing rather than romantic. From the start, he argues that Labour has two impulses: one ‘transformative’ – to challenge existing power structures, (Corbyn?): the other ‘integrative’ – to work with society as it is, (Blair?). But Hannah judges the left by what it does, rather than says, so his story is mostly about unfulfilled promise. When the General Election comes, I’ll vote for Corbyn – but not because I expect revolution – or wholesale transformation of the economy (Labour’s 2017 manifesto document makes no mention of socialism); I simply think he’ll do more for the poorest in society – reign back the wealthiest.
Land reform expert, Andy Wightman, famously wrote ‘Who Owns Scotland’ (1996) – and over decades has researched and campaigned for open public access to land registers. His latest blog says that, in spite of all the benefits of modern technology, it is easier to find out ownership of land in 1915, than it is in 2018. “Over the coming months, I invite those with an interest to join me in campaigning for greater openness in land information”.
The late Stephen Hawking’s first wife, Jane Wilde, wrote of him being – ‘a child possessed of a massive and fractious ego’; even if this was true – his fierce intellect, coupled with his crippling illness, made him a worldwide inspiration. In 1985, a life-saving tracheotomy destroyed his voice – necessitating a synthesiser; for me that halting, haunting, Hawking metallic tone will always symbolise the courage and resilience of the human spirit.
Right from the Start: Investing in Parents and Babies, by Alan Sinclair – is published by the Glasgow based Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing. It focuses on ‘the first 1000 days’ – from conception, through pregnancy, until about two years of age; an incontestable body of evidence shows that this period makes the biggest difference to our lifelong development. Sinclair argues that, compared to other countries, Scotland fails to give this uncomfortable reality sufficient priority or investment.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: The Findhorn Village Conservation Company; Lorn & Oban Healthy Options Ltd, The Melting Pot,
EVENTS: The Role of Board Fundraising (Edinburgh), 21 Mar; Croft Woodland W/shop, 24 Mar; Pre-loved Fashion Show, 24 Mar; SE Youth & Vocational Education Forum, 27-30 Mar;
TENDERS: Call for Proposals, Housing Feasibility – Community Renewal; School and Public Transport 2018 – The Highland Council; Therapeutic Listening and Holistic Wellbeing Service – Clackmannanshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: The SEN Community Bond Offer has now reached the halfway stage – with a closing date of 7th May 2018 – and is keen to attract individual and organisations from across the third sector in Scotland as ‘investors’. A single Bond costs £50 and will pay 2% interest. Once the target is met (£100k), a new SEN Loan Fund will be set up -to provide micro, unsecured, low cost and bridging loans to SEN members. Take a look at the Bond Offer and we’d encourage you to share as widely across your networks. You can apply for a Bond online and can now also make payment via PayPal online. This is your opportunity to reinvest in your sector as staff/trustees and organisations – so please consider buying a Bond – and help ensure that small and affordable loans are available to SEN members when they are needed.
Back in October 2017, this Bulletin, like many others, voiced concern about how the Govt’s new Employability Programme – Fair Start Scotland – was cutting out third sector providers in favour of corporate bodies, many based outside Scotland. Our third sector providers appeared only, with the odd exception, to be able to contribute as sub-contractors. It now appears that a number of third sector organisations who were sub-contracted to deliver part of the programme have now ‘walked away’ – citing their reasons that it is just not financially sustainable. Rumours suggest more will follow. Scottish Govt’s earlier assurances of a ‘new approach’ and that “over 50% of Fair Start Scotland will be delivered by public and third sector organisations and supported businesses” is beginning to look rather hollow.
I’m increasingly noticing articles by the Guardian’s Aditya Chakrabortty – whose interest in alternative economic models, coincides with our own. This well-researched piece is about ‘employee ownership’ – and centres on the East Kilbride sign maker Novograf (60 staff). Novograf’s founder/owners wanted to retire – were on the point of selling to an English company, when they realised that it was the order-book they were selling – the factory would close. With the help of Scottish Enterprise, they constructed a deal for the workers to buy the company. The potential of this economic model (Mondragon) deserves more attention.
Over the last year or so, we have been featuring the monthly blogs by Alan Kay (Social Audit Network). This month, Alan’s focus is on the notion of ‘social capital’ and, although maligned in some quarters, lies at the heart of the contribution made to local communities by local social or community enterprises.
Good news this week for a number of DTA Scotland members with the announcement of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund awards. 24 applicants will share around £26m to support locally developed regeneration projects that involve local communities and will help to support and create jobs in those communities. See full list of approved awards.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new venture, based in Edinburgh, that acts as a food consultancy, catering and education service for charities who are offering support to vulnerable members of our communities. Prep Table Scotland works along with the likes of the Rock Trust, Streetwork, Cyrenians and Home Start – as well as with Edinburgh SEN. Their range of work includes running catering academies; preparing and delivering food for people living in temporary accommodation; and running classes and pop-up restaurant events. Their goal is to empower people through food, providing freedom of choice and the means to give, receive and to share in a comfortable, relaxed environment.
Whilst I know nothing of Stephen Hawking’s specialist subjects, I can appreciate, like anyone else, the wisdom of some of his observations on life; this link gives a selection.
“For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”
That’s all for this week.
Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210