Senscot Bulletin: 17.04.20

Most people have twin drives – for companionship, love, society – and for solitude, independence, autonomy; over time we find our own balance.  When I first moved into this remote cottage, it was an experiment; would I experience isolation negatively, as loneliness – or positively as solitude; that was 16 years ago. I think of solitude now as ‘being alone well’: immersed in doings of my own choice: aware of my own companionship, rather than the absence of others.  Solitude is the friend/guardian of my independence.

From spending so much time alone, I would have expected to reach a better understanding of myself as a person.  Carl Jung considered that we are all born with a biological psychic blueprint; that a ‘quiet mind’ will detect signals from the ‘true’ self we were ‘meant’ to be.  I have never discerned any such coherent pattern within myself – just thousands of jumbled memories from a lived life – some of which make me groan out loud.  Apparently, the Google search engine has a better grasp of my predictive behaviour.

In 1987 I had a mental health crisis – my levels of anxiety required and received professional help; this illness is a faded memory, except that my central nervous system occasionally alerts me of subconscious turbulence – sends tremors.  At present, it’s as if the global pandemic has triggered my particular anxieties about illness and death; like everyone else, my ‘normal’ contains new flashes of panic.  In times of crisis, the independence of solitude defers to its twin drive – for companionship, love, society.


Whilst my grasp of economics is scant, I weigh commentaries from across the political spectrum (this from Tribune); most agree that the economic fallout from the pandemic will be worse than ‘recession’ – that if the lockdown runs to September, many ordinary households will be reduced to desperate survival.  The first priority of our govt. must not be saving financial institutions like last time, but ensuring household security.  This means getting money to people, so they can self-isolate properly; so they can pay for rent and energy and food etc.  First and foremost, we are all in a public health crisis which requires physical isolation; how it is all eventually paid for is a secondary problem – for later discussion.  Life and death.


Citizens Advice Scotland (the real front line) has published a poll, suggesting that a third of Scots households have a ‘cost of living’ crisis (food, heat, rent etc)  Untypically, Kevin McKenna’s Saturday column takes the gloomy view – that the UK will not emerge from lockdown as a kinder, more equal place.


One of Fintan O’Toole’s hobby horses which I share, is the imagined exceptionalism of the English – national delusions of grandeur, fed by junk journalism.  O’Toole contends that, sadly, exceptionalism is not mere rhetorical self-indulgence – but probably influenced policy around the virus – delaying lockdown.


Some official updates about the progress of the virus, come very close to telling lies – particularly relating to estimates of when the outbreak will end.  Women’s Health Mag. found two academics who are refreshingly candid about the likely cycles of ‘lockdown and release’ stretching long into the future.


Although I’ve promoted the concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for many years – it has always been a ‘fringe’ idea.  This week, Charlotte Street Partners – who like to think of themselves as ‘bang on’ – offer their readers this brief summary of the factors which bring UBI in from the fringe; e.g. Pope Francis. This Fraser of Allander Institute blog takes a look – balances some of the pros and cons.


Viktor Frankl (1907 – 1997) survived Nazi concentration camps – and the lessons he learned – among unimaginable human suffering – are just as relevant now as then:

“Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than yourself; it may be a meaning to fulfil – or relationship with another human being.  The more you forget yourself – in the service of a cause or the love of another – the more human you become.”

Frankl also said: “Once you know the ‘why’ for your existence – you will be able to bear almost any ‘how’”.  See here

This week saw the launch of the Scottish Govt’s Wellbeing Fund – designed to support organisations across the third sector that are providing important frontline services for people as a result of coronavirus crisis. £10m has already been allocated for immediate priorities and £7 million has been committed to provide around 2,000 charities with small grants through Corra, Inspiring Scotland, STV Appeal, SCVO and Scotland’s Third Sector Interfaces.  The remaining £33 million is now open to bids from Third Sector Organisations. They are now inviting expressions of interest. One of the other main Scottish Govt responses to the current crisis is the Third Sector Resilience Fund which has now been open for around three weeks – and is already distributing funds – see list of awardees. We have also heard from many who have been unsuccessful. A key message being relayed remains the lack of clarity between the various funds – the Resilience Fund; the Wellbeing Fund and the forthcoming Supporting Communities Fund. For further info’ on support available, see Senscot’s COVID 19 Resources Page – which is updated regularly – as well as SCVO’s comprehensive Information Hub.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.

One activity that is gaining an increasing amount of traction at the moment is the virtual Thematic SEN sessions via Zoom. With Local SEN meetings via Zoom are already underway in different parts of the country, Thematic SENs sessions are focusing on specific topics – all identified by SEN members themselves. This week has seen Virtual SEN meetings on Health and Sport; with one planned today for those SEN members engaged in provision of food. Next Wednesday (22nd April, 2-3pm), Sarah hosts a Virtual Cultural SEN session – contact – and, on Friday 24th , we will host a Friday Afternoon Sesh for any/all thematic SEN members who wish to participate. Contact for info.


Another initiative to help the sector through these difficult months is Social Shifters Scotland – a new platform that provides bite-sized e-learning; Covid-19 response strategies as well as updated advice from third sector regulators, funders, and advisory services (Finance, HR, Law, Communications, Insurance, etc.). The platform also enables you to connect with others in a similar situation, ask questions, and offer mutual support. The SENs will be exploring if/how Social Shifters could work for them. See Sign-Up details


Just Enterprise has been tailoring its service in response to the COVID19 crisis – including their one-one Crisis Review Service. See this summary of support available to social enterprises affected by COVID19.


Frontline News:

Scottish Communities Finance is offering interest-free loans of £3-5k to SEN members. The SEN Bridging Loan would have a ‘turn-around of five days. For more info, contact

Shared Care Scotland has opened its Creative Breaks Programme – for third sector organisations to deliver short breaks projects and services for carers and the people they care for:

Invisible Cities’ tour guides are all people who have experienced homelessness and – with the current crisis – unable to provide their regular service. Invisible Cities is seeking donations to help them support their guides while the lockdown period continues. See Invisible Cities’ Crowd-Funding Page:

The National, this week, featured the response of a number of community enterprises to the current COVID 19 crisis – including the Galton Estate in Lewis; Govanhill Baths; and the Stove Network in Dumfries.


This week’s bulletin highlights the response of Edinburgh-based social enterprises in supporting vulnerable people within the community across north Edinburgh. The Scran Academy and Prep Table are involved in a coalition with other social enterprises in the north of the city. The Scran Meals Coalition is now delivering the Community Meals Scheme that sees that those most vulnerable receive a not meal everyday – prepared by local youngsters. They are now delivering 2000 meals each week. Other members of the ‘coalition’ include The Pilton Equalities Project; Fet-Lor Youth Club; Edinburgh Food Social; and Out Of The Blue. You can support their work via this crowd-funding link. This short video explains what they are doing.