Senscot Bulletin: 17.07.15

Dear members and friends,
            It’s been a disappointing summer – a real mixture; on most dry days I have a spell in the garden. When I started I couldn’t do much – an unfit, discouraged old man – but each session gets stronger and easier. My present task is painting a timber fence with ‘one coat’ shed paint – forest green; I sit on a chair – dungarees, gloves, hat, radio. I try to practise ‘mindfulness’– but it lasts about one minute – I have to begin over and over.

        A woman emerges from the woods, obviously upset – leading a distressed pony; says a wild dog attacked them. I fetch them both a drink of water (a glass and a pail) – chat till they calm down. Then begin painting again – a good rhythm – enjoying it. A girl (about 8) comes by on roller skates – being pulled by a big friendly dog! I wave – she waves back. The sun comes out – I remove some clothes – feel the rays enter my body and soul; being outside – absorbed in simple manual tasks – restores me. Friend phones – offering lift to the Open golf on Friday – delighted – the open at St. Andrews is special.

            For supper later I’ll be having soup – mutton and leeks are gently simmering – local strawberries in the fridge; then, later in bed, I’ll reflect on today’s events. As I grow older – the external world can appear increasingly hazardous and I find myself drawn to the unremarkable; ‘the easily missed, infinitely nourishing beauty of the mundane’.
It’s easy to feel despondent these days about the general state of UK politics; the Tories, riding high, have decided to simply disregard Scotland – but that’s hardly new! Osborne’s budget was summarized by the Institute of Fiscal Studies: “the changes overall are regressive – taking much more from poorer households than richer ones”. That’s hardly new either. Then we had Harriet Harman telling Andrew Marr that the voters chose austerity – and Labour won’t oppose this budget. I can’t remember the cause of social democracy being so demoralised. One bright spot this week – Mhari Black’s maiden speech at Westminster; electrifying.
The Greek crisis staggers on – one ‘final deadline’ to the next; our heart goes out to their long suffering citizens – whose privations seem never ending. This FT piece gives a rare insight into the intensity of recent negotiations. Owen Jones in the Guardian thinks that Europe’s ‘crucifixion’of Greece will result in some of the UK left campaigning to exit Europe. (what UK left?) 
The British Council took the opportunity of the recent SE World Forum in Milan to make this glossy promo about their understanding of Social Enterprise. Their understanding includes basically everything – from the benevolence of global corporations – to impact investing etc. It is to be welcomed when profit driven companies pursue social objectives – but nothing is to be gained by confusing this activity with asset-locked third sector enterprises – just confuses people.
The case for radical Land Reform will be highlighted this year by a Scottish Land Festival during the last two weeks of August; the festival, called Our Land, will culminate in a weekend of action on the 29/30 of August – with events all across the country. Our Land Festival is backed by Common Weal, Women for Independence, Scottish Land Action Movement and Radical Independence Campaign. Campaigners Andy Wightman and Lesley Riddoch will lend their considerable support. Festival organisers invite people to come forward with ideas for events.
The West Highland Free Press is based in Skye and is the UK’s last remaining employee owned newspaper. In May, columnist Donald McLeod (a free church theologian) wrote a piece about the spread of Islam in the UK – which was criticized; fellow columnist Brian Wilson (former MP) defended McLeod – and then we heard they were gone! Their departure led to such an outcry that managing director Paul Wood has apologized to readers for the row – but the columnists have not been reinstated. 
The all Scotland survey/mapping of social enterprises (being coordinated by Social Value Lab) will not be released till after the summer – but the headline figure is around 5000. Fife Council recently commissioned SVL to conduct a Fife mapping – which is now in circulation – identifying 167 SEs – income £2.7m – estimated volunteers 1336. To be honest I thought there were more SEs than that in Fife – but we are aware of new plans from Brag Enterprises, Fife Council and the Fife SEN to invigorate the sector: this report offers a solid launch pad.  
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Remade in Edinburgh, SURF, NHS Health Scotland, Stepping Stones for Families, Balerno Village Trust, The Bike Station, Unity Enterprise, Blake Stevenson Ltd, Newmains Community Trust
EVENTS: REHIS Elementary Food Hygiene, 24 Jul; Aberdeen EU Funds Masterclass, 31 Jul; Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 24 Aug; Comedy in the Community, 07 Aug;
TENDERS: Integrated Employability Service – The City of Edinburgh Council, Aberdeen City Pipeline – Progress Through Positive Partnerships, Vehicle Wash and Valeting Services – West Lothian Council and many more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: This week Senscot attended a European Social Investment Fund (ESIF) Stakeholder Workshop relating to the ‘Tackling Poverty and Inequality – Growing the Social Economy’ Strategic Intervention (SI). The SI proposal (draft and not yet approved by the managing Authority) which is starting to shape up has been jointly developed by the Scottish Government Third Sector Unit and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and covers the whole of Scotland.  This SI proposes an integrated pan-Scotland approach to stimulating, testing, supporting and delivering social innovation and enterprise in the social economy, resulting in enhanced capacity to deliver better outcomes for the most disadvantaged groups, sharing of learning and good practice, and the creation of sustainable employment opportunities. For further updates on ESIF 2014 – 2020, see more
So far 20 people have signed up to attend the inaugural meeting of a potential Employability SEN – which will take place on Wed 5 August at Robertson House, 152 Bath Street, Glasgow (10:30 start). At this time Scottish govt. is consulting on the deployment of EU structural funds; also on how to replace existing employment programmes in 2017. The meeting will explore how a new SEN could provide a focus for a strong collective voice of social firms and enterprises.  For more information or to register for this meeting contact Jayne Chappell.
I live near South Queensferry – which locals claim to be plagued by too many tourists – cruise ships etc. While it is pleasing that the Forth Bridge has recently attained UNESCO World Heritage Status – visitor numbers can be expected to keep rising. Both North and South Queensferry need proper tourism strategies – so that this ‘problem’ can become a managed asset.
A few years ago I learned a lot from visiting the Kids Company in London – meeting the extraordinary Camila Batmangheldjh. The insistence of the UK Govt – that Camila now stands down as CEO – raises a perennial issue for the third sector: how does a voluntary board of trustees keep tabs on an exceptionally gifted – but autocratic founder/leader? And then the whole issue of succession – where do they find a replacement? There is also an important issue about size; administrative short cuts which are ‘creative’ in small organisations, become ‘delinquent’ when serious public funding is involved.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise (and Sport SEN member) that believes football is the perfect tool to engage with children and families. Future Soccer Stars (FSS), set up in November 2014 and based in Stirling, use an approach that combines high quality football coaching with an enjoyable educational syllabus that incorporates many important development themes such as colours, letters and numbers, nutrition, imagination and teamwork. The program also helps parents and children to bond & learn together in a safe & structured environment. FSS runs programmes for different age groups – starting at 2 years old – all which are designed to encourage children to lead healthy & active lifestyles. FSS is also part of this year’s LaunchMe programme supported by Firstport.
Albert Einstein was frequently asked if he believed in God; this week’s images from Pluto remind one of this reply:

" May I  reply with a parable? The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. "


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