Senscot Bulletin: 18.11.16

Dear members and friends,

I’m sure Leonard Cohen would appreciate the irony of his departure – just as Trump won the election – perfect timing. Anyone familiar with thelyrics of ‘Democracy – it’s coming to the USA’ – might conclude he chose ‘which train to catch’. But it’s as a ‘spiritual seeker’ that I’ll remember Cohen – his intensely personal lyrics, exploring themes of love, faith, death etc – a relentless pilgrim. In my old age, I particularly notice when contemporaries face their ending with courage; Cohen’s recent farewell ‘letter’ to his friend Marianne Ihlen was beautiful.
            I regularly watch the TV programme ‘Great Canal Journeys; I can’t match the passion of Tim West and Prunella Scales for our remote waterways – but it’s the strength and courage of their relationship which carries the programme for me. Tim and Pru – wed over 50 years – both in their 80s – talk quite openly about her slowly developing dementia. I find it moving – two aged thespians, nearing the end of accomplished lives – so loving and gentle with each other.
            In last Sunday’s episode, they sail to Iona and Jura – but a squall gets up and the Atlantic swell is too much for them – Pru looks scared. It’s not until they’re gliding up the Crinan Canal (in the last of the Clyde puffers) that tranquillity returns. I thought of Hopkins lovely short poem: “I have asked to be where no storms come; where the green swell is in the havens dumb; and out of the swing of the sea.”


Don’t know about you but I need a break from all the gloom around Trump and Brexit; so I’ll focus this week on domestic gloom. The SNP administration has concocted another mechanism to bypass local govt – advancing its mission to make Scotland a centralised State. In another excellent piece, Lesley Riddoch asks, “If local govt is so unfit for purpose that carefully-crafted work-arounds are needed – where are the Govt’s plans for sensible reforms?” Watching the administration’s increasing evasions – I’ve concluded that it does have plans – but they are being hatched in secret – because they ‘diminish’ local democracy. Scottish civil society has no alternative but to pursue this issue in isolation from govt. Riddoch’s piece announces the launch in Glasgow on Monday 21st Nov. of a new group called Our Democracy: ‘act as if we own the place’


I enjoyed this short essay (two pages) by the late Martin Luther King Jr; it says that oppressed people deal with their oppression in three characteristic ways. The first way – acquiescence – he rejects because to accept passively is to co-operate with injustice. The second way – violent resistance – he rejects because it thrives on hate rather than persuasion and is ultimately self-defeating. The third way – non-violent resistance – seeks to reconcile the truth of two opposites and became the hallmark of his leadership in the USA 1950s/60s civil rights movement.


What percentage of Scots are white? My guess was 75% – but the answer is 96%. This and many other interesting stats. are compressed into this 90 second animation from the BBC looking at the theme of equality in Scotland. If Scotland was 100 people: 61 own our house – 37 rent; 29 have degrees – 17 no academic qualifications; 70 of us have cars – 80 have internet access at home; 45 have less than £1000 savings; the top 10 earners average £881 weekly, and live into their 70s; the bottom 10 earn £236 weekly, and die 20 years younger; 17 of us take medication for mental illness.


Scottish Govt figures show that in 2015/16, 34,662 applications were made to local authorities under the Homeless Persons legislation; at the same time as Shelter informs that there are 34,000 homes lying empty in Scotland. While thousands of citizens are without a home – I believe Govt, central and local, should make it very uncomfortable for property owners to keep dwellings habitually empty; with compulsory purchase used routinely to get properties back into use. A young couple’s prospects of housing are the worst I can remember.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Sport Scotland, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Skidaddle, Victim Support Scotland, With Kids, Baldy Bane Theatre Company
EVENTS: Fiddle 2016, 20 Nov; Train the Trainer 23 Nov; Keep it local; Strength in numbers 23 Nov; New Rights, New Resources and Revenues, 30 Nov; Leading Growth for Senior Leaders, 23 Mar
TENDERS: Edinburgh Wellbeing Public Social Partnership – The City of Edinburgh Council, Community Led Health Improvement – NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Intensive Support Service for Young People – Stirling Council, and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Today, the Third Sector Division (Scottish Govt) is hosting a session on the European Social Fund Tackling Poverty programmes. The session will provide details about Growing the Social Economy operations – including eligibility, application and assessment processes, indicative timetable, roles and responsibilities, marketing and promotion. Today’s main focus will be on ‘Growing the Social Economy’ – SG Regeneration are working on details of Community-led programmes – with further opportunities to find out more info’ soon. Applications will open in the next few weeks. Updates next week.


Our “Keep it local; Strength in numbers” Conference is more or less full – waiting list only available. With the Cabinet Secretary now being unavailable, we will be kicking off with an open forum/Q&A on the imminent SE Strategy for Scotland. This session will be hosted by Yvonne Strachan (Scottish Govt) with a panel that includes Eric Munro (RBS); Derek Marshall (Dundee SEN); Betty Elliott (The Spark/Glasgow SEN); and Darah Zaran (Scottish Enterprise). Any question you would like to put to the panel – please email The event itself takes place at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh (Wed 23rd Nov). A drinks reception and dinner will round off the day. See full delegate pack – including programme.


It is a good time of year to remind readers of DTA Scotland’s Oil Buying Platform. With the price, purchase and delivery of oil being a key issue in many rural communities, DTA Scotland now operates an online platform where you can order and arrange delivery for Heating Oil – 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.


Think tank – Common Weal – has launched a new online marketplace to give folk a chance to buy local, independent and ethical goods this Xmas. Common Market aims to provide an alternative to big business and high-street stores that dominate UK retail. Luxury knitwear, artwork, homeware, gifts and confectionary are all available on the platform – which hopes to make an important contribution to a fairer Scottish economy. A couple of SEN members have signed up –  the Edinburgh Remakery; Glasgow-based Locavore. Following discussions, it is also hoped that existing Run Native vendors will sign up to Common Market. See more


More success for Glasgow and Cultural SEN member, the Media Co-op, with another batch of awards and nominations for their work. Their work is currently being showcased at film festivals in both Manchester, and New York and includes films with NHS Greater Glasgow; the Maryhill Integration Network; and the Wee Govan Pipers. Media Co-op specifically chooses to work with organisations that share their values. These include charities, social enterprises, co-operatives, trade unions and the public sector, See more.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new enterprise and Dundee SEN member that provides affordable workspace to charities, social enterprises and other community organisations. The Circle believes that by locating these organisations together and providing training and opportunities for networking and collaboration, it can help these organisations to thrive. The Circle also offers opportunities for work, volunteering, education and leisure to the community through its members and spaces, social enterprise cafe and community gardens. These facilities include co-working space, fixed office space, training rooms and board/meeting rooms for hire, multi-purpose space and enterprise training workshops.


Ever since I heard it on his first album (1967) – Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne has lodged with me. The best writing touches something in our unconscious – to which we give our own personal meaning; ‘understanding’ the lyrics feels less important.


Now, Suzanne takes your hand and she leads you to the river
She’s wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds her mirror


And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.


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