Dear members and friends,
The generation that sets the tone of contemporary thinking is, of course, much younger than me; out and about – it’s the speed of everything I notice. But even if I could, I have no desire to go faster; I live the life of an old guy – with its own rhythms and satisfactions; a different stage in the life span – of equal significance. I consider my ‘state of mind’ to be better than it has ever been – mindful and content – (relatively).
We need more ‘oldies’, like me, to write about being old – and indeed about dying – so the young can know what it’s like and not be fearful. We can tell how our interest in the ‘fast and furious’ external world declines – (done all that). A new perspective brings a new ‘stillness’ – less time now for inessentials; focus now on our work (the lucky ones) – our friends – and on ourselves: who we have been – who we are now – what meaning it is possible to find in any of it.
When occasionally I wake in the middle of the night, feeling wretched – I find comfort in reciting a timeless prayer – like Psalm 23: ‘The Lord is my shepherd – I shall not want… etc’: I don’t even believe in a personal God – who knows Laurence – and dispenses ‘grace’; so how to reconcile this? Well I don’t regard humans as a single authentic ‘self’; rather as having many ‘selves’ – some contradictory and unknown to us. Reiner Maria Rilke said: “Be patient with all that’s unsolved in your heart”. See end piece.
I delayed writing this piece, in case May’s govt. fell this week; I’m serious – can’t remember such precarious times. Tory dinosaurs, we would laugh at, have the power to bring the whole house down. The EU is wisely making provision for the UK crashing out of Europe without a deal – our ‘sovereign parliament’ seems powerless to intervene. The whole country is waiting on someone to ‘fix this’ – but it just gets worse.
Scotland’s relatively placid political world – awaits the outcome of the Sarwar/Leonard contest; a millionaire with kids at private school – or a comrade of the Corbyn surge. Whoever wins, don’t hold your breath; like the UK Tories – Scottish Labour is fixated on bitter infighting – basically dysfunctional.
When I read about what went on in Children’s Homes during my lifetime – I feel ashamed; thankfully 75% of all children in care are now placed with foster families – 64,000 children in the UK – about 90 new placements every day. But this Guardian article traces our changing demographics, which conspire against our model of foster care – and which ask a fundamental question: are foster carers essentially volunteers, with an allowance to cover costs? Or should they be employees with normal workers’ rights? The natural generosity of citizens is what enables society to work – but when is this exploitative? Not an easy question.
In 2016, Holyrood passed an important Bill – establishing a register of lobbyists and requiring them to declare all contact with Scottish politicians. But the membership of the working group – established to monitor this process – is being criticised; on the grounds that nine of its twelve members have, themselves, direct lobbying interests (including three third sector members). This short piece in Sunday’s Herald summarises the nature of the complaint – that the ‘general public’ are not deemed worthy of representation. Neil Findlay – who pushed for this legislation – said: “I’m surprised by the dominance of lobbyists on the group.”
When we set up Senscot 18 years ago, one of our models was the ‘open source’ IT community – and our commitment to an open, sharing community of innovation is stronger than ever. The spirit of this is captured beautifully by this ‘copyright notice’, posted by the late, great American songsmith Woody Guthrie: “This song is copyrighted in the US, under seal of copyright 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anyone caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ours, cause we don’t give a darn. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: Social Enterprise Academy, Homeless World Cup Foundation, Beacon Arts Centre, Bridgend Inspiring Growth, Leith Community Crops in Pots, Isle of Luing Community Trust
EVENTS: Preparing for the Procurement Process – Social Enterprise Academy 20 Nov; A Culture Strategy for Scotland: Engagement Phase, 21 Nov; Introduction to Tendering for Public Sector Contracts, 22 Nov
The SENs Weekly Update: Our SE Conference (7th / 8th Dec) is only three weeks away. Next Friday (24th Nov) is closing date for entries for the Dragons’ Den – with this year’s focus being on ‘collaboration’ between social enterprises. Applications are invited for ‘pitches’ from SEs either delivering or planning to deliver a new or amended service by working in partnership with others – see Application Form. Prize money for the winning pitch will come in the form of support/services/products etc from SEN members or intermediaries to the value of £5k. If you have a service/product to offer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our draft Delegate Pack has been updated and includes a revised Plenary session – Spotlight on Failure – on the Friday morning. This session will address the myths and reality of sustainability amongst social enterprises. A few overnight places are still available. If you’re interested in coming along, please see Booking Form.
There are thousands and thousands of community groups all across Scotland – most not even legally constituted: neighbourly goodwill. The role they play in society is largely unacknowledged – ‘impact measurement’ – what’s that? Interesting article in the New York Times, about a new book called Uneasy Peace, by Patrick Sharkey; the past 25 years has seen a dramatic decline in crime in major American cities – for which there are many theories. Sharkey’s research shows that more attention should be given to the contribution of community enterprise activity in the most improved areas – a sleeping giant.
I watched and enjoyed the TV biography of the legendary Bill Shankly – was unaware that he made such a ‘cobblers’ of his (too early) retiral – lost the plot. My mind connected to Alex Salmond – so much still to offer – but where to put it? And now Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup – what’s happening in the world?
The community of Govanhill in Glasgow has been fighting for almost two decades to save their historic Baths. When Glasgow City Council announced plans to close the Baths – a petition of over 30,000 signatures was completed within a fortnight. The Govanhill Baths Community Trust is now running a crowdfunding campaign to raise the final £300k to complete the £6.4m redevelopment of the Baths as a new Health and Wellbeing Centre and return them to the heart of community life in Govanhill. The campaign runs till 30th November. To show your support, you can contribute here – with more good news announced yesterday.
On the social investment landscape, one of the providers which seems to receive less coverage than others is the NatWest Social & Community Capital Fund. The Fund was set up as a charity in 1999 to fund social enterprises who couldn’t access bank finance. As of this year, it has loans worth £3.7m to 21 social enterprises. This week they launched their second Impact Report – plus a series of case studies.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new initiative from Kibble – based in the Buchanan Street Galleries in Glasgow. Good offers an open space for social enterprises and charities across Glasgow and the West of Scotland to promote their work and showcase the difference they are making in local communities your community every day. It will also promote the important work at Kibble and the opportunities available such as volunteering or working for them. The space at Good is available for free and can be utilised for a number of things including events, training, meetings, demonstrations etc. Glasgow SEN has circulated a short survey to members to see how they can make best use of Good.
The writing of Reiner Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is too intensely lyrical for some – but I love his passion and courage; here’s a selection of quotes:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
That’s all for this week.
Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210