Senscot Bulletin: 17.10.14

Dear members and friends,

 I wrote last Friday – ‘no one knows what’s coming next in Scotland – it’s great’; been pondering on this.  There has been a collapse of trust in the established order of things in the UK.  Our democracy is seen to have been captured by the interests of a tiny, powerful minority; the political elite underestimates the intelligence of a networked electorate. The extent of the Scottish public’s engagement with our referendum suggests that the practice of politics is undergoing a major revolution.
 I’ve been a community worker most of my life; over the years, many respected colleagues professed themselves Marxists – but I was never a revolutionary – not in their sense.  All we did was offer practical help to whatever it was that local people were motivated to do ‘for the community’: sports, culture, welfare, health – dozens of initiatives – accountable locally – to enhance the common good -the environment.  The important constant – is that participation results in personal empowerment – which can lead anywhere; the confidence to escape from poverty – the impetus to engage with local politics… anywhere at all.
 The networked, self-organising ferment which Scotland currently enjoys – is the kind of society I always dreamed of – where hundreds of thousands of people are coming to similar conclusions.  These numbers can’t possibly all know each other – but more than any time in history – they can be connected.  If all this converges – you get a wave – and this wave can lead to a whole new social order.  No one knows what’s coming next in Scotland; isn’t it marvellous. (Margaret Wheatley’s ‘Emergence’ theory of change resonates with contemporary Scotland). See,

Civil Exchange and the Baring Foundation are to publish a series of thought-leading essays about the future of the third sector. The collection is to be called Making Good: the future of the voluntary sector; abridged versions of the essays will be published over the next month by Civil Society news. Senscot is one of a cluster of SE organisations contributing to a new SE strategy for Scotland. Whilst devolution offers us some independence from Westminster – we are part of the same ecosystem – these think pieces give context. In the first of them, Nicholas Deakin warns that the UK government is consciously crafting a new role for the third sector – but it may be one that we are not prepared to accept. See,

The Labour Party in England says that if elected it would reserve aspects of public spending exclusively for charities and SEs – see,  For this purpose, a government definition of SE would be necessary – as the shadow minister, Chi Onwurah, clarifies: “The definition would be legally binding in as much as organisations seeking to benefit from the targeting of particular public sector contracts at social enterprises would have to meet them – it would not be legally binding for other purposes. We have a duty to protect public sector purchasing but would not seek to impose a definition on the wider social enterprise sector”. Scottish Government uses ‘the Code’ to determine eligibility for certain funding streams. See,

In any week, the Senscot bulletin is read by an average of 550 people in England – 230 resident in London (Google Analytics). Our English cousins may be interested in the 5 page summary of Scottish SE support infrastructure – the subject of this letter from John Swinney. Written by civil servants – it will tend to put a positive spin on stuff – but we judge it mostly accurate. Some candid comment from the users of these services would add to its value. See,

Glasgow’s Govanhill is Scotland’s most diverse community – a square mile of over 50 nationalities. The 13 year campaign to save Calder St baths – an exemplar of determined community action is set for a boost. Renowned filmmaker Fran Higson is looking for support to complete a film which will take the campaign to a wider audience. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Action for Children, Scottish Drugs Forum, Mellow Parenting, Hadeel Fair Trade Palestinian Craft Shop, SIS, Indigo Project Solutions, Dig-In Bruntsfield Community Greengrocers,
EVENTS: Leading Growth for Aspiring Leaders, 20 Oct; Social Impact Measurement, 23 Oct; Edinburgh Green Tease with North Edinburgh Arts, 24 Oct; Aberdeen Investment Readiness Workshop, 06 Nov;
TENDERS: Training Initiative Programme, Fresh Start; Future Support and Advice to Rural Communities, Scottish Government; Medium Value Construction Projects, The Common Services Agency (more commonly known as NHS National Services Scotland); Consultancy Services for Cycling Event Development Support, Scottish Borders Councils.

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Senscot supports 4 thematic SENs and Roundtables – Health; Sport; Community Food; and Culture/Creative – with around 300 SEs directly engaged or members. This work is supported by Scottish Govt Third Sector Division; the Scottish Govt Health Directorate; Creative Scotland; and Sportscotland. Over the last year or two, the focus has been on exploring linkage between the activities of respective thematic SEN members and the scope for joint working. So far, this has seen the establishment of Joint Thematic Roundtables; linking with local SEN Co-ordinators to connect their members with thematic SENs; working with Visit Scotland and Glasgow Marketing Bureau re tourism opportunities relating to sport, culture and community food; and the development of a Map of Support . For further examples of the work of the thematic SENs, see,
For more SENs News, see

It’s now almost certain that the next package of devolved powers to Scotland will include the Jobseekers Allowance. Since April, this programme has included the option of mandatory community work placements – requiring claimants to work full-time without payment – for up to 26 weeks. The UK voluntary sector has comprehensively rejected ‘workfare’ through its campaign ‘keep volunteering voluntary’. The feisty Boycott Workfare campaign spent last week naming and shaming participants. See,

The SE Strategy for Scotland consultation has a deadline of next Wed – 22nd October. We’d really appreciate if you could take time to complete it. See, – 8 questions in total. Initial findings will be part of a SE submission to the Smith Commission. Further consultations will take place over the next month or two, with this consultation providing the basis of further discussions.

Final call for applications for the Dragons’ Den at this year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh – £5k to the winner! Closing date for entries is Monday 27th October. Five applicants will be shortlisted to face the ‘Dragons’. To apply, see . There are only around 10 places left for the event – so this is your last chance to book. We expect to have ‘sold out’ signs up early next week. To request a booking form, email

The Man Booker prize this year has been won by Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan for ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ – of whom I had never heard; now that I’ve seen this review by Thomas Keneally, I will certainly read it. “Flanagan’s novel is a grand examination of what it is to be a good man and a bad man in the same flesh – and, above all, how hard it is to live after survival”. That’s my kinda stuff.

This week’s bulletin profiles a heritage and arts society based in Helmsdale in Sutherland. Timespan, established in 1986, is a cultural development organisation and a creative hub –  providing a high quality venue and programme for people locally, nationally and internationally. Over the years, Timespan has collaborated with researchers, artists, audiences and participants of all ages and backgrounds to preserve, sustain, celebrate and amplify the culture of their community – with an average visiting audience of around 13,000 people per annum. Timespan is also engaged with the Cultural and Creative SEN. For more, see

Tom Leonard will be 70 now – best known for his poems in Glasgow dialect Scots.  This more intimate poem called ‘June the Second’ was written in 1996 – then put away in a drawer for 7 years as being too personal to publish.  Then with his wife Sonya’s consent it was published in 2009 collection: ‘Outside the Narrative.’ 
“It is dawn and my wife is coming to bed – and she has been watching a film about the life of charlie parker – and the air in the bedroom is silent while she undresses – and the light is there at the side of the curtain beyond her head – and she tells me his body gave up of drink and drugs when he was 34 – and I decide I am awake and go to the kitchen for a drink of water – and the sky in the north is translucent like a lake – translucent like a lake though it is only 3am – and when I go back we lightly hold hands as we sometimes do – until the first to be falling asleep begins to twitch and tonight it’s Sonya – and I withdraw my hand and lie back looking at the ceiling – I am aged 51 years and nine months and nine to ten days.”

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