Senscot Bulletin: 16.11.18

Dear members and friends,

If I’m typical, old people my age have a natural impulse to look back on their lives – for a sense of closure and wholeness: ‘did my one and only life have some point and meaning’ – ‘do I review it with satisfaction or regret.’ Sometimes I’m comfortable, that from the hand I was dealt, I played a good game; but this alternates with embarrassing, dishonourable memories of people I’ve let down.

It might explain certain behaviour, that my mother died when I was a toddler – a tragedy, which must impact on any child’s life. The part of him which expected to be ‘reached’ – the part that trusted love – would be devastated by fear and pain; he might build a ‘wall’ –  let no one close. I believe that, early in life, I accepted solitude as normal; I also know that I care about, and need, other people. The result is an old guy who, by choice, lives alone – writes a blog; mostly self-sufficient – mostly content and grateful.

For resilient optimism alone, I’m awarding myself a B pass for my past life: I hold that the goodness inside me is stronger than the negative parts; and I’ve never really doubted, that it’s only love that matters on this journey. For the remnant of ‘unlived life’ that awaits me, I’m always on the lookout for pointers: the Hindu guru Nisargadatta Maharaj (new to me) said something I find helpful: “Wisdom is knowing I am nothing – love is knowing I am everything – and between the two my life moves”.



In spite of much Eurosceptic misrepresentation, I’ve been impressed by the behaviour of the 27 member states of the EU; the integrity of the single market, and the principle of solidarity between them, has been clear and constant. To anyone who has been listening to Michel Barnier’s team, the ‘withdrawal framework’ which surfaced this week, contains nothing new nor surprising; yet TV presenters and pundits (with unseemly glee) predict that is has little chance of clearing parliament. Ours is a ‘representative’ democracy, but whenever our 650 MPs can’t resolve an important issue – we ‘go to the country’ – usually in a general election – to elect a fresh administration. One senses that we are close to such an impasse. What next?



Comparing measurements of poverty, over very different times is difficult – but a research professor, Pat Thane (Kings College, London) has found that, since the 1980s rolling back of the state and welfare, the UK has returned to a situation very like the 1900s. This is her excellent, short overview. Thankfully our Scottish Govt. is more determined to tackle poverty than Westminster – the principle of social security as a human right – respect and dignity at the heart of the system. Prior to next month’s Scottish budget, the Poverty Alliance has published an action plan ‘Loosening the Grip’ – outlining some of the choices available to us.



As one of the founders of Scotland UnLtd (2001), I remember tortuous negotiations with the Lottery, to free us from London control (which failed). It’s no surprise to read this week, that Scottish license fees subsidise BBC London by about £100m annually! Why don’t we have our own public broadcasting agency? What’s London got to do with it?



The gig economy, artificial intelligence, zero-hour contracts – It’s dramatic how the future of work is evolving; what about reducing the working week – perhaps to four days. I believe that, everyone having an adequate income, will gradually become uncoupled from paid work – that economies will become mutualised – what we consider ‘capitalism’ will become obsolete.



Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897 – 1981), was an Indian spiritual teacher and philosopher of Advaita (Nondualism). According to Nisargadatta, the purpose of spirituality is to know who you are. (some quotes)

“All that a guru can tell you is: ‘My dear Sir, you are quite mistaken about yourself. You are not the person you take yourself to be’…The sense of ‘I am’ is your own. You cannot part with it, but you can impart it to anything, as in saying, I am young; I am rich, and so on. But such self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage…There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot.”

This month’s Senscot Briefing (30th Nov) will be looking at local SENs. This will be the 12th in a series of Briefings that explore and showcase the role of grassroots social enterprises in delivering services within particular policy areas to communities across Scotland. Local SENs have been around for over a decade. Today, there are 16 local SENs – with almost 900 social enterprises – either members or directly engaged. Together they employ over 12,000 people – and have a combined turnover of over £500m. Local SENs have, over the years, had fluctuating fortunes – those who have been able to access funding/support locally have been able to flourish – those who have not, have found things more challenging. The SE Action Plan commits to ‘extending local SENs to every part of Scotland that wants one’. Senscot will continue to work with local SENs and TSIs to ensure that this commitment can be realised – and provide a critical collective voice for grassroot social enterprises in Scotland.

Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding

SCRT holds its 4th AGM on Tuesday 27th November at the Conan Doyle Centre in Edinburgh. Guest speaker will be Michael Roy – from Glasgow Caley – who will be talking about ‘Social Impact Bonds and financing the social economy’. If you’d like to attend and/or to join SCRT, please email for details.

SCRT has also participated in recent months in the Reference Group for OSCR’s new guide – ‘Charity Investments: Guidance and Good Practice’. The guide aims to help and support trustees of charities that have investments or are considering investing some of the charity’s funds.  See OSCR’s Laura Anderson’s blog.



More new guidance this week –  this time from Scottish Govt – which has published a step-by-step guide on Community Right to Buy Abandoned, Neglected or Detrimental Land. This guide is intended to support communities through the process from initial identification of land to the completion of a purchase – and sets out the considerations that need to be taken into account, the legal requirements that must be met and the various decision-making stages.



The 16th Homeless World Cup is underway this week in Mexico. Scotland is again amongst the 42 countries (450 players) represented – in both women and men’s competitions. The reach and impact of the Homeless World Cup over the years, in helping the lives of so many young people, is beyond dispute. This impact of football has been re-enforced by a recent UEFA Report – highlighting the social, health and economic benefits football brings to Scotland. On this theme, the Sport SEN will be hosting an event that that brings together Football Community Trusts from across Scotland to share their experience of delivering health, wellbeing and community activity in their local communities. For more info’, contact



Date for your Diary: P4P is delivering an ‘Introduction to Tendering and Collaboration Workshop’ in partnership with Angus Council, Angus Business Connections and Voluntary Action Angus on the 20th November. Designed specifically for third sector organisations and social enterprises interested in preparing for and responding to tender opportunities – with a view to working in partnership. More info here.



This week’s bulletin profiles Scotland’s first not-for-profit funeral directors – whose vision is for a Scotland where everyone can afford a dignified funeral, personal to their needs. Caledonian Cremation – part of the Community Renewal Trust – was set up last year as they became increasingly aware of how the rising cost of funerals was hitting Scottish families hard – pushing one in seven into debt. Caledonian Cremation’s goal is to offer more choice, flexibility and more advice to help bring down funeral costs for everyone – at a set price of £995. Any profits are reinvested – via the Community Renewal Trust – in helping people in Scotland’s poorest communities who struggle to cope with bereavement. Caledonian Cremation picked the ‘One to Watch’ award at last week’s Scottish SE Awards.