Senscot Bulletin: 18.09.15

Dear members and friends,



            During August last year, I had the cataract removed from my right eye – which everyone assured me was a routine and painless procedure. A cut is made in the front of the eye – and a small ultrasound probe inserted – to break up the affected lens. With all the fragments removed – a new plastic lens is inserted – pretty amazing really.


Although it was painless – I found the 35 minutes stressful (panic attack); and I hadn’t realised that my poor eye would be virtually blind for a few days – so I thought the op had gone wrong. Last Friday (11 Sept.) was my date to get the other eye done – which I was dreading; felt a bit of a Jessie – but told the surgeon I was scared. No probs, he said – we’ll give you a sedative – which they did – and I almost enjoyed the gig. The team in Edinburgh’s Eye Pavilion was impressive: professional and kind.


            On the day, pre and post surgery, 12 of us auld yins are sat around in a big circle – various staff circulating with paperwork, eye drops, refreshments etc – convivial atmosphere. I pretend to be reading – but I’m imagining that some grave medical event has shattered my independence – that I am permanently consigned to be ‘looked after’ in this kind of setting; can’t imagine being able to cope – dark thoughts! When I return to the room after the op (Valium taken) – things don’t seem so bleak. Back in the real world – my new left eye is healing fast – and has already delivered a new brighter outlook.


What I find most pleasing about the Corbyn victory is that it came from the people – much to the surprise of the party machines.  Labour Party members, and many supporters, have sent a clear message that they want an end to Blairism – to explore a new progressive alternative. In this respect the surge resembles the SNP emergence up here – a popular movement for change – up from the streets. The downside is that Scotland is once again becoming a one party, centralist state: those of us who lived through the former Labour dynasty don’t want that again. The opposite is the case in England: there is the real chance that the Thatcherite consensus may find itself with an authentic opposition party; standing up to corporate power – genuine social democracy. Polly Toynbee thinks that the reaction of the defeated Blairites will be decisive.


I’ve depended most my life on the BBC to screen major sporting events – but public broadcasting is losing this contest; this is the worst year ever for the encroachment of pay channels. I won’t give the Murdoch empire one penny – so I listen to the radio. BYLINE , one of the new sites offering crowdfunded journalism, carried an excellent piece called ‘the Osborne/Murdoch BBC stitch up’; while foreign newspapers barons may want to quash the BBC, it argues, it won’t help their failing business models and collapsing paywalls.


Looking back at the referendum from one year on – I’m convinced that the uncertainty over Scotland’s future currency tipped the vote against independence: this remains a central unresolved issue. Over the years I have been less than enthusiastic towards utopian attempts to create local currencies – tokenistic; but I find myself increasingly attracted to the option that we Scots should create our own currency. Think tank ‘The New Economies Foundation’ has produced a 64 page report proposing the ‘Scotpound’ and ‘BancaAlba’. 

Interesting article in the New York Times this week about Europe’s ‘confused’ response to our current refugee crisis; the piece argues that mass movements of people lie at the heart of Europe. 1945 saw 20 million refugees milling around; then the millions of Britons of South Asian descent; the exodus to France after Algerian independence; the millions of German Turks – and on and on. My own tribe lived for centuries in the south of Italy. Communities adapt – terrible scars heal – children are born – cities grow.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Unity Enterprise, Out of the Blue Arts & Education Trust, Turning Point Scotland, North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, With Kids, Out of the Blue Arts & Education Trust, Local Energy Action Plan
EVENTS: Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 24 Sep; Coalfields Community Network Event, 25 Sep; Open Day & AGM, 25 Sep; Glenrothes Community Consultation, 26 Sep;
TENDERS: Community Public Art Project – West Lothian Council, Soft Landscaping and Planting Works – Fife Council, Painting and Decorating – Brookfield Multiplex, Adult Carers Support Service – Aberdeenshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: News this week that Scottish Govt is to undertake a review of the Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs) and their umbrella body, Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS). TSIs were originally set up in 2009 and tasked with four primary functions. Senscot’s concerns about the commitment or ability of TSIs to adequately address the fourth function – supporting SEs locally – have been documented in the past in this bulletin. By working more closely with VAS, there is clear evidence of progress in a number of parts of the country. However, in a number of other areas, difficulties still exist. It seems wrong that this situation continues to rumble on. Senscot and the SENs welcome this review and hope that it can identify clear measures to address these difficulties. After 5 years, it is reasonable to expect that ‘teething troubles’ would have been resolved.


Following the publication of the SE in Scotland Census, colleagues down south have come up with their own version – the State of SE Report 2015 (see pages 31 and 32 for Scottish stuff). If you are into stats – or don’t have much planned over the weekend – you can enjoy comparing the two. However, it can be difficult to draw too many comparisions. The Scottish Census uses the SE Code as a benchmark, whereas it’s not quite clear what SE UK uses. Everyone will have their favourite stats. Two for starters: 67% of SEs in Scotland are charities; but only 21% down south: and 47% turn over less than £100k, compared to 60% in Scotland.


The Scottish Community Re:Investment Trust (SCRT) is hosting its first Conference on 19th November at the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh. The Conference is titled ‘Social Finance: Social Investment: Social Banking – what makes them Social?’ – looking at how social finance can better serve the needs of the wider third sector and the work it does. Discounts for SCRT members and third sector organisations are available.
Further details – including draft Programme and booking forms – are available here.


A few months back we highlighted a new play ‘Touching Cloth’, written by a familiar face to many – John Hughes (CEIS Ayrshire). After two highly successful runs at the Shed in Glasgow this year, John’s play – set in the Glasgow Shipyards in the 1980s –  has another run – with shows in Clydebank and Biggar. A group of Glasgow SEN members – who attended – gave it a resounding five stars. Get along if you can.


This weeks’ bulletin profiles a member of the most recently established local social enterprise network – Renfrewshire SEN. Project Oskar, interestingly named after a polo-playing pony from Argentina, operates a recycling showroom in Paisley. As well as offering Household/Office furniture and white goods, Project OsKar also recycles the likes of books, clothing and sports equipment. More recently, they have expanded into other services such as gardening; painting and decorating; and cleaning services. They have also recently entered into a contract with Renfrewshire Council where Project OsKar will go into void properties and paint, decorate and carpet the house prior to the new tenant taking over the property.


Scottish Govt set out on an exercise at the start of the summer to enage local communities in a ‘national conversation about how the country can be a fairer and more equal place to live’ – led by Social Justice Minister Alex Neil. Over the summer, over 1,000 people from voluntary groups, charities and businesses took part in Fairer Scotland public events, with social media platforms attracting over 10,000 visitors. Issues raised included social security sanctions, the working poor, access to affordable childcare and housing, health services and education.The autumn phase of Fairer Scotland will include another 40 event with around 3,000 expected participants.
The economist Leopold Kohr (1909 -1994) described himself as a ‘philosophical anarchist’: he was a lifelong opponent of the ‘cult of bigness’ in social organisation.


            “The central disease of our time is not ugliness, poverty, crime or neglect, but the ugliness, poverty, crime, and neglect that comes from the unsurveyable dimensions of modern national and urban gigantism which can be cured in only one way: not by sympathy, money, or genius, but by making large things smaller. Then people will be able to handle their problems without the outside guidance, sympathy, or a lot of money, by applying the sort of common sense we attribute to horses but rarely to men and women. What is needed is a return to human scale”.


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