Senscot Bulletin: 19.01.18

Dear members and friends,

My annual, new year ‘clear-out’ included a box containing seventeen discarded coffee makers – mostly the Italian aluminium type; a reminder of how important coffee is to me. As we grow older, our tolerance for caffeine reduces – my stomach in particular knows when I’ve had enough. My intake is now restricted to two main ‘fixes’ a day – 7am and 11am; specially the first – enhances my mood, alertness, energy etc.

I presently make coffee at home by the simple French method – glass ‘cafetiere’ jug with push down filter; but commercial scale coffee machines offer a special treat: the exceptional pressure they generate is the source of that delicious surface ‘crema’. The coffee bar chains use beans of differing intensity – so I get a small jug of hot water ‘on the side’ – dilute to taste.

When I’m around Edinburgh city centre, I use a family coffee bar, with a beautiful Spanish barista called Maria; she’s a lass from Malaga and I call her Malaguena – love saying the word. Maria wasn’t there this week (home visit) – so I give my order to ‘over-confident’ young lad called Andy – ‘a double espresso with hot water separate’; ‘You mean an americano’, he says. ‘Not an americano’, I say, ‘I’d like the coffee and water separate’. Andy serves my coffee in a brim-full espresso cup – no space to dilute – I ask for a larger cup. Deep sigh – ‘now you’ve got an americano cup’, he says. I hope the ongoing Brexit mess doesn’t discourage the return of La Malaguena.


Each year, Senscot invites financial donations from readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin. Traditionally, around 100 individuals give an average of £25 to become full company members. Senscot’s board is elected by and is accountable to these members. We also invite donations from individuals (donors) or organisations (associate members) who simply want to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or donate, see members page.


In 2012, the social enterprise agency SEUK commissioned journalist Zoe Williams to write a report called The Shadow State; it warns that a small number of companies – providing outsourced public services – are being encouraged to become so large that their failure would have serious consequences for the UK economy and our communities. The demise of Carillion exactly mirrors this prediction – and will hopefully hasten the end of the ‘costly racket’ that has endured for 30 years. Will there now be genuine attempts to encourage smaller businesses and social enterprises to secure contracts – particularly delivering local services which call for caring human relationships. Massive-scale outsourcing creates a ‘shadow state’; rip-off shareholder realms like PFI – which citizens can no more pin down than we can vote out. Sleazy.


A most consistent source of progressive local economics comes from a UK-wide outfit called CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies); in my opinion, one of their recent blogs ‘nails’ how local councils are set to evolve: ‘Local Govt. and the Commons: the time has come.’  In this new conception, ‘the local state’ is a facilitating institution – that empowers and co-ordinates community organisations to create local services and employment.  The scale of things like schools, transport, power, water etc determines that they remain municipal functions; but community enterprise will increasingly become the default option for local services.


If I was a young man, just starting out in life – I sometimes wonder if I would be attracted to the way of life offered by the small Hebridean islands; I think it takes a special type of person to enjoy such an intensely ‘shared’ lifestyle – almost the opposite to seclusion.  This Facebook ad – for the sale of Café Canna – a tiny bistro on the island – reminds me how strongly I care about these places attaining viable populations.   The first thing we need to get right is ‘tenure’ – islands should be owned, collectively, by the people who choose to live there –  not by absent landlords – whether property speculators or some patriarchal trust.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.

JOBS: Ferguslie Park Housing Association, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire, South Ayrshire Women’s Aid, New Caledonian Woodlands.

EVENTS: Family Festival, 21 Jan; Understanding Psychosis, 23 Jan; Tennis Celebration Event at Good, 29 Jan; Branding for Beginners, 30 Jan; Scottish Mental Health First Aid: Young People Health in Mind, 1 Feb.

TENDERS: Occupational Health – The SDS Co. Limited, Food and Beverages – Scottish Canals, Multi Storey Car Park Cleaning – East Ayrshire Council, Office Furniture Procurement– Clyde Gateway URC Ltd.


The SENs Weekly Update: Scottish Govt, this week, launched its draft Strategy – A Connected Scotland: Tackling social isolation and loneliness and building stronger communities – which they are now consulting on – responses to be in for 30th April 2017. Senscot, on behalf of the Health SEN, will be submitting a response. A series of community engagement events are also planned over the coming month – see link above. The issue of loneliness and social isolation is increasingly seen as having a major impact on both physical and mental health – for both young and old alike – and this Scottish Govt Strategy will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Senscot recently produced its own Policy Briefing on this issue identifying the work of a number of SEN members in this area – ‘Loneliness and Social Isolation – the Role of Social Enterprise’. We will have more on how to contribute to our response over the coming weeks.



Racial and cultural prejudices probably had an evolutionary purpose – in tribal societies when ‘different’ usually meant dangerous; but as Antonio Damasio explains – for the machinery in our brains to react this way is no longer useful. Extremely refreshing to hear Nicola Sturgeon, this week, make a passionate argument for the EU’s freedom of movement policy. Successive govts. allowed ever more migrants into the UK, without ever properly explaining the benefits; the resultant resentment contributed to the Brexit vote. Our First Minister has the power of her convictions – and a clear vision of Scotland as part of the European family.



Big Lottery Scotland this week announced over £6m of funding to 24 community organisations. The latest round of funding is for a range of activities to help to boost peoples’ creativity, confidence and self-esteem. It’s encouraging to see so many familiar names and SEN members being the beneficiaries of the new funding – including the likes of Lingo Flamingo; Community Enterprise; and Glasgow Wood Recycling. See full list.



In our 2017 SE Census, 43% of the 5,600 social enterprises in Scotland had turnovers of less than £50k per annum – that’s around 2,400 organisations. In spite of the hype about growth and scaling up, these organisations are very much the cornerstone of our sector – providing invaluable services in local communities – often ‘under the radar. This article identifies six strengths of such organisations.



The last year has seen some prominent figures across the sector move on – either into retirement or new positions elsewhere. One of the most notable was the retirement towards the end of year of Martin Sime after over 20 years at SCVO. Around the same time, Shulah Allan (SCVO’s Convener) also stepped down. With the recruitment process for Martin’s replacement ongoing, SCVO has announced the first step in their ‘changing of the guard’ with the appointment of Andrew Burns as their new Convener. Edinburgh folk will be familiar with Andrew as former Leader of Edinburgh City Council. Good luck to him in his new role.



Further to our bulletin piece (21.12.2017) about closure of 62 RBS branches in Scotland – this interactive map shows exactly where they have taken place. Have a look at Scottish Rural Action’s recent Press Release.



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that is committed to developing social products that enhance the lives for people living with dementia and anyone connected to them. Creating Conversations was set up by the charity Artlink Central, with the objective of helping to break barriers of communication to reduce social isolation and enhance relationships, confidence and wellbeing. It has done this through the design of a communication and activity kit that could increase social engagement, personal fulfilment, enjoyment and wellbeing, and the sharing of recollections and personal history in a relaxed and natural way. Profits from Creating Conversations’ activities are all re-invested into Artlink Central and the local communities.



In 1517, the Dutch philosopher Erasmus wrote, ’At every level of society, everything is corrupted by open factions, or by secret grudges and animosities’; there are certainly times when harmony/progress seems beyond reach – but here are five, more helpful, comments about our prospect of building global accord.


‘So it is that no group sets itself up as the One – without at once setting up the Other against itself’ –  Simone de Beauvoir:  ‘He who knows only one side of the case know little of that’  – John Stuart Mill:    ‘Civilisation is above all the will to live together’ – Jose Ortega Y Gasset: ‘Because he does not compete; therefore, no one competes with him’ – Lao-Tsu:   ‘I have a dream, that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character’- Martin Luther King.


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210