Senscot Bulletin: 16.10.15

 Dear members and friends,


For some, depression is a major affliction – which can cause them to lose hope – even end their lives; I suffer no such distress – but experience mild episodes – which last a few days – more like sadness. When I’m ‘down’, my favourite music doesn’t work – same with books; no energy – chores back up; I become more accident prone – as though a part of my mind has turned against myself. If I start to lose sleep – I occasionally take a pill – apart from that I don’t confront my sadness; it’s a legitimate part of who I am – with its own wisdom and companionship; it passes on. Over the years, I have learnt how to live with these moods: what to do – where to go.


            Fifty paces from my front door is a very old church and graveyard; I have a favourite bench there among the stones – looking on to a fully grown Cedar – a place of calm. Although you won’t find any glimmering of religious faith in the writings of Philip Larkin – he wrote a lovely poem called Church Going – about his habit of visiting remote, empty churches. Larkin reflects on a time when churches will fall out of use – but suggests that there will still be a human need for such places:  “Someone will forever be surprising a hunger in himself to be more serious – and gravitating with it to this ground – which he once heard was proper to be wise in – if only that so many dead lie around”.


In Scotland last year, political discourse was out and among ordinary people – all so invigorating; but the present conference season, returns our politics once more to the poisonous grip of political parties – the realm of falsehood and doubletalk: such a turnoff. My dislike for the Tories deepens by the day; I have no idea if Scottish Labour is still Blairite – or is now going with Corbyn. The SNP’s tight centrist control– growing doubts about key Ministers being up to the job. The Greens have the kindest, most progressive policies – prepared to at least dream beyond the rule of markets. I don’t care that some of their ideas are not fully worked up – that will come as they gather momentum. The key objective is to take the debate back from political parties – back to thousands of local meetings organised by citizens – describing the Scotland they want to live in.


Common Weal – which calls itself a ‘think and do tank’ – has assembled a Book of Ideas – 101 practical suggestions to improve Scotland. My first quick scan finds it a bit academic – wanting the realism of front line experience. One of my interests – democracy, has 14 separate suggestions – very aspirational but a bit scattergun. But hey – nothing wrong with that – go for it! Colossal amount of work here.


Some third sector practitioners hold that the independence of our sector is undermined by charities and SEs established to deliver public services –their total dependence on public funding. The argument goes that these are effectively public sector delivery organisations – and should be distinguished from the independent, social innovation for which our work is renowned. This piece sets out the arguments – again.


Good piece by Michael Gray in The National – reminding the SNP that they need to tackle the Scottish ‘establishment’ – not just that of Westminster. It is not the fault of the SNP that Scotland has an embedded, conservative establishment – but they are the party now claiming to represent a mass movement for progressive change. So they will need to be seen to confront unearned elitism in Scottish society.


Campaigning journalist, Jen Stout has posted a strong piece – accusing the SNP Govt of watering down the Land Reform Bill. The pattern of land ownership is one of the main causes of inequality in Scotland – the bold set of proposals published by the Land Reform Review Group last year, raised our expectations that there was a commitment to tackle this; but somewhere along the way – the more radical/effective proposals have been dropped. We should all be angry about what has happened to this bill – because it shows our Govt to be shamefully timid – and that it is the interests of the rich and powerful that hold sway at Holyrood. Not good enough.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Out of the Blue Arts & Education Trust, Victim Support Scotland, Fair Isle Development Company, Mossblown Regeneration Group, Crossreach, Dumbarton Road Corridor Environment Trust
EVENTS: Citizens Advice Direct 2015 AGM, 16 Oct; EU Funds Masterclass: Borders, 30 Oct; Coalfields Community Challenge, 6 Nov; Social Entrepreneurs Chat Show, 18 Nov; Aladdin, 20 Dec;
TENDERS: Coordination, Advocacy and Support for Young People Impacted by Substance Misuse – NHS Lanarkshire, Supporting Individuals and Families Affected by Substance Misuse in South Lanarkshire, Café Tender – Fruitmarket Gallery and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  A number of SENs have been working with City of Edinburgh Council and five other local authorities in the East of Scotland to submit a £1bn bid to the Scottish and UK Governments for a City Region Deal. The bid, if successful, will run for 10 years and include support for social enterprise, with a view to creating a step-change in the size and impact of social enterprise in the respective areas – and the particular contribution they can make to tackling inequality and poverty. This is an exceptional opportunity for these SENs and their members. A web site has been set up where businesses can pledge their support for the bid. The SENs would like to see as many social enterprises as possible signing up and showing their support, sign up


Bookings for this year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh have now hit the 100 mark – with space for another 20/30 folk. The programme is just about finalised and we are now inviting applications for this year’s Dragons’ Den. Closing date for application is Friday 23rd October. Here’s the application form. As always, £5k prize money will be available to the winner. We will also be crowdfunding the audience prize. The event is again at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld, on 12th/13th Nov. To book your place, see bookings.


Our charity regulator OSCR has been carrying out a full revision of its Charity Trustee guidance, and is keen to get feedback from the sector on the draft. This is the first ‘revision’ for 9 years and will affect the 24,000 charities operating across the country. OSCR’s intention is to set out in a more straightforward way what charity trustees must consider – to meet legal requirements; to ensure that their charities are well-run; and to avoid some of the common problems that can arise. The consultation runs till 18th December – with full guidance due for publication in spring 2016.


Bank of America recently wrote to town and city authorities across the US – basically giving them 90 days’ notice before dumping them as clients – as they are seen as ‘low-margin businesses’. In response, the Public Banking Institute sees this as an opportunity to explore the opportunities to establish public banks. In a not dissimilar vein, SCRT was established to explore if Scotland’s third sector could work together to establish its own or partner with an existing financial institution. This idea will be the theme of Scotland first Social Finance Conference taking place at the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh on 19th Nov. The event will be chaired by Anna Laycock (Lead Strategist at Finance Innovation Lab ) – and will include a host of speakers from Scotland, the UK and abroad. To book your place, see here.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in the Garnock Valley in Ayrshire, that specialises in bringing both the creative and technical arts to young people, the elderly and people with additional support needs providing film, music, art, photography, media, animation and more. Model X Media, established in 2013, works across the length and breadth of the country providing a range of services. These include commissioned work such as murals, filming, photography and graphic design as well as organising and hosting events. All profits generated gets filtered back into creative projects within local communities in Ayrshire. Model X is one of the few organisations that can cater for both the creative and technical arts.


This is a quote from Joanna Eede – writer, photographer and intrepid campaigner for the survival of Tribal Peoples round the world. 


“A recent analysis of the original sources for all 1,031 drugs approved worldwide between 1981 and 2002 has concluded that none of these could be traced unequivocally to a totally synthetic source.  And of the 300-plus compounds currently in phase I, II & III clinical trials for cancer treatments, only one was a true discovery resulting from the laboratory alone.  In other words, the majority of medicines are still based on structures found in Nature, and Nature still provides the best chemical leads for biologically active compounds that have a medicinal value for humans.  If we can find a painkiller from Ecuadorian frogs that is 200 times as potent as morphine, if we can learn that there are anti-cancer properties in aquatic invertebrates, we can only guess at what other powerful natural panaceas lie within the tropical forests, in the depths of the ocean, or in the icy reaches of the Arctic.”

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