Senscot Bulletin: 17.03.17

Dear members and friends,

The social media attacks on Scotland’s leading women politicians shocked me – what kind of people write that stuff; sometimes the ferocity of public life gets me down – feel the need to shut it out.  When alcohol was part of my life – a few days ‘on the pish’ was my respite; people use all sorts of strategies to keep themselves sane – hobbies, religious practice, frequent travel etc.  I’m fortunate that I can easily ‘lose myself’ in some physical project – in the garden or around the house – which I did last week.
            A letter from my landlord six months ago, cautions me to stop using my wood burning stove until I can provide certification that my chimney is swept and safe – I accede.  Now, trying to embrace more physical activity, I decide to restore wood burning; spend the week erecting and varnishing storage racks on each side of my front stoop (IKEA) – then shifting barrow loads of logs from shed.  Front door now framed by a pleasing tunnel of 200 neatly stacked logs – dead chuffed.
            Contact chimney sweep – make appointment at £60 plus VAT.  After a quick inspection (head up lum) he says he can’t sweep or certify my chimney – as its illegal; it needs to be ‘lined’ and a steel plate fitted – to prevent falling, smouldering soot.  I ask how much; about a grand he replies; no thanks – he leaves.  So, sadly, wood burning has not yet been restored – but the primary purpose of last week’s project (a pleasant distraction) worked fine.  Come April, my Estepona bolthole will offer a warmer distraction.


Theresa May is a prisoner of the Tory right wing – that she can’t, or won’t, ‘cut Scotland some slack’, made inevitable Monday’s demand for a new indyref; yesterday’s attempt to say no will only fan the flames.  A new referendum based purely on economic factors – oil, deficit etc – would likely be a NO; but the Brexit and Trump outcomes told us that influences like ‘identity’ and ‘narrative’ can outweigh predicted voter self-interest. I don’t want to live in a Tory post Brexit UK. In a balanced piece, in Politico Mag, David Torrance acknowledges “If anyone is perceived as guardian of 21st century Scottish identity, it’s the SNP.” Nicola herself personifies this, gracefully. Cometh the hour – cometh the woman. I am resolved to be temperate in my language during IndyRef2; regardless of the outcome I want to live in harmony – let the people speak.


As we suspected last week – certain Councils are deploying dirty tricks to get their hands on the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF). The whole point of the Fund is to provide ‘extra’ money – to be spent at the discretion of head teachers of primary schools in the most deprived areas; Councils like North Lanarkshire are blatantly pressurising head teachers to use the money to subsidise existing service provision. This is in direct contravention of Govt guidelines and let us hope that clusters of schools are able to resist – on behalf of the neediest children.


An article from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) claims that – of the £2bn just announced by the Chancellor for social care services – £115m will go in dividends for investors – 29p in every £1. That is because 90% of residential care in the UK is now delivered by independent providers – the vast majority, for-profit corporations. This is a political decision. Many of us believe that care of the vulnerable should be protected from the distortions of profit maximization – trusted to the social economy, with more appropriate priorities and values.


There’s a book on the go just now called ‘Utopia for Realists: and how we can get there’: It’s by Rutger Bregman who writes this excellent article in the Guardian – claiming that keeping people poor is a political choice we can no longer afford. Margaret Thatcher once called poverty a ‘personality defect’’ Bregman, on the contrary, argues that the ‘context of poverty’ frames the decisions of poor people. He makes a strong case for the universal basic income – and if that sounds utopian, so was every other milestone in human social history. In his book review, Will Hutton thinks UBI is ‘bonkers’.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Maybole Community Council, Freedom Bakery, Music in Hospitals, Victim Support Scotland, Forth Valley & Lomond LEADER, Carluke Development Trust, BRAG Enterprises, Museums Galleries Scotland
EVENTS: Peace of Mind Cultivating Communities, 20 Mar; Social Enterprise Exchange Marketplace, 21 Mar; Leading Growth for Senior Leaders, 23 Mar; Glasgow Soup Crowdfunding Event, 23 Mar;
TENDERS: Managed Print Service – River Clyde Homes; Commercial Cleaning Programs, Halls of Residences – Heriot Watt University; Dumfries & Galloway European Social Fund Stage 1&2 Provision – Dumfries and Galloway Council and more. Join Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: This week, Senscot and the Scottish Community Alliance hosted a Participatory Budgeting (PB) ‘Masterclass’ in Glasgow – delivered by Jez Hall (PB Partners and Share Future CIC). Scottish Government is promoting PB through the £2m Community Choices programme. Over 25 Local Authorities have already begun using PB within their community engagement work, much of it reported on the PB Scotland website. The aspiration of the Scottish Govt for Community Choices is an ambitious one – and includes creating new opportunities for social enterprises seeking to engage with communities and secure public sector contracts. Here’s a link to the presentations from the Masterclass. PB Scotland is now looking to create a dedicated group of PB champions – to support others on their journey. They are on the lookout for people with the skills, commitment and capacity to learn -and to share that learning. See more.


Senscot is looking to recruit a manager for our Partnership and Procurement Hub. The P&P Hub is a partnership involving Senscot, Social Firms Scotland, the Scottish Community Alliance and Co-operative Development Scotland. It will seek to provide practical support to SEs and third sector orgs in identifying and responding effectively to emerging tender and other business opportunities through the development of partnerships and consortia. To apply, see application pack. Closing date is Friday 31st March 2017.


The P&P Hub (above) will look to provide support to community and social enterprises in forming consortia – following the example of the CRNS Consortium. The CRNS Consortium involves 17 community-based re-se organisations covering 24 local authority areas. We hear this week that Fife Council has become the first local authority to trial a change in the way it provides furniture and other household items to Scottish Welfare Fund customers – via the CRNS Consortium.  The Fife-based Consortium members involved in delivering the service are Castle Furniture Project and Furniture Plus. See Press Release.


The Muirfield decision this week, to grant membership to women, reminded me of Owen Jones’ book The Establishment – how power groups survive by adapting and assimilating. In this article, Jones offers a telling quote: “We’ve had nearly a century of universal suffrage now, and what happens is capital finds a way to protect itself from, you know, the voters.” The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers offers an easy, almost comical, scapegoat; but we’re all aware of abuses of power nearer home – all the more scary ‘cos we could influence events.


Next week (21st March), one of the Scotland’s big SE jamborees takes place at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh. The SE Exchange Marketplace will over 80 exhibitors from Scotland and across the UK looking to make new connections and potential trading opportunities. The event will also host a series of workshops and discussion forums. For more info etc, including event programme – see SE Exchange.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that in a member of Renfrewshire SEN and the Health SEN. Roar for Life, based in Paisley, is a provider of preventative, health and wellbeing services for older people through the development of community opportunities that connect lives. Roar’s range of activities are designed to provide an opportunity to meet people, socialise and laugh whilst investing in people’s physical and mental health through their wellbeing programmes. Programmes include Reels and Spiels; Come Dine with Me; Men’s Group; Craft Café and IT classes amongst others.


Famous extract from campaign speech made by Robert Kennedy, University of Kansas, March 18, 1968


“Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things which we count in our Gross National Product……Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”


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