Senscot Bulletin: 19.02.16

Dear members and friends,
On the morning I fly out of Edinburgh – I break my new glasses (snapped at the bridge) – then I leave my walking stick in airport taxi; then the plane is awfy wee – with propellers – kicked about by the wind. I arrive in London’s City Airport with 2 suitcases – but with reduced vision, mobility, composure; when I eventually find left luggage facility – I’m starting to ‘lose it’. I press a bell – shutter goes up – sudden redemption: I’m with a bright, smiling young black woman and I know it’s okay. Sensing I’m on overload, she is unusually patient and kind – spends 5 minutes with me till I’m calmed and ready to go forth. In London, I replace walking stick – even find side-street optician to fix specs; but it’s the restorative encounter with the lady of the left luggage that I keep remembering.


I’m reminded of a passage by the Scottish psychiatrist, Ronnie Laing – (see end piece) – where he talks about the power of being in communion with another human being. Two people in ‘attunement’, he says, generate a force field of wellbeing: “There is a healthy spirit that exists in us and between us – and that is the only healing power that exists as far as I know”. Out and about this week, I find myself on the lookout for examples of this healing gift of kindness. The woman in the supermarket snack bar has it. A waiter in Casa Miguel has it. I think the woman who cleans my room has it. You see it in their eyes… and in the quality of their listening.


In the recent Spanish elections – the two emergent citizen platforms – Podemos (left) and Ciudadanos (right) – gained almost as many votes as the two monolithic, corrupt main Spanish parties; with no-one able to form a Govt. – the country seems poised for another election. The surges of both Jeremy Corbyn and US socialist Bernie Sanders suggest that, among the young, discontent is widespread about the general state of the body politic. This piece by Michael Gray in the National claims that economic insecurity, especially in housing and work, is the norm for most young people in Scotland; that it’s no wonder they want political change.


One more week of Senscot’s annual appeal for readers to renew membership donations – which help pay for the production of this bulletin. Our goal of around 100 – has reached 80.We also invite donations from individuals or organisations who simply want to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or to donate – see members page . If you’ve donated and your name’s not on the list, please email


The journey of our Land Reform Bill went through another stage last week at the Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Climate Change Committee (RACCE). There is an increasing view that the Bill – due mainly to pressure brought on the SNP Govt by its own members – is going to be a bit more robust than first feared. In this piece in The National, Lesley Riddoch considers how last week’s meeting was a ‘game-changer’ – a gentle one – but a ‘game-changer’ nonetheless. The Bill now goes to a full debate in Parliament in March. Like their counterparts in the tobacco and alcohol industries – the landowning classes will then resort to the courts to safeguard their ‘human rights’.


In Scotland – a society which prides itself on progressive values of social justice – the issue of food poverty is a disgrace. The increasing proliferation of food banks – reliant on donations from supermarkets (although ASDA has this week pulled the plug on their donations) and the general public – is also a disgrace. Nourish Scotland – Scotland’s community food network – is striving to reshape the way food works in Scotland into a system that’s fair, healthy, affordable, and sustainable. In this short paper, Nourish’s Executive Director, Pete Ritchie, calls for urgent action on many different food fronts – including what actions communities can take to address these challenges – and promotes the model of community food hubs.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Social Investment Scotland, Social Enterprise Academy, Dig-In Bruntsfield Community Greengrocer, Firstport, Community Enterprise, Barony, Church of Scotland, RAMH
EVENTS: Edinburgh Story Cafe, 24 Feb; HR Essentials, 25 Feb; Meet A Mentor for Women, 26 Feb; Dumfries Community Shares Training, 3 Mar; Creative Writing for Fearties, 17 Mar;
TENDERS: Construction of a new Adult Learning Disability Centre – North Ayrshire Council, Self Directed Support for children and families – Moray Council, Day Care Inverclyde HSCP – Inverclyde Council, Corporate WEEE Recycling including secure ICT disposal – Renfrewshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  The Gathering this week saw Nicola Sturgeon announce that Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) , administered by SCVO, is set to receive a further £6.1m investment – supporting a further 700 jobs. The money will be used to improve the job prospects of 16-29-year-olds who face the biggest barriers to employment, such as people with disabilities and those who have left the military. CJS has been a success to date with a high number of positive job outcomes – with many SEN members engaging with the programme.  The Scottish Government has invested more than £45m in CJS since it launched in 2011, creating more than 6,500 job/training opportunities for young people across Scotland, with almost 70 per cent of young people involved in the programme going onto a job or further education. See more.


News this week that Jackie Killeen, Director of the BIG Lottery (Scotland), will be stepping down in May to take up a new post with the British Council as their Director in Scotland. The British Council works “to create a friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and the wider world” – and Jackie’s role will include working across the spheres of education, culture and civil society, looking to further develop the Council’s impact in Scotland and internationally. Bulletin readers will be aware of the Council’s increasing engagement with social enterprise. This appointment appears a bit of coup for the British Council and its work in Scotland.


In December, we wrote about how Argyll & Bute Council was proposing to take recycling services ‘in-house’ – in spite of having been delivered successfully over the last 10 years by Fyne Futures; Rejig; and Kintyre Recycling. The good news, last week, is that the Council has now agreed to maintain the current arrangements. Great for the social enterprises concerned – as was Fyne Future’s response – ‘Woohoo!’


“What are the implications – challenges, opportunities and risks – for social enterprises and the third sector in playing an increasing role in public service delivery?” This is the question for discussion at Senscot’s AGM and Seminar on Friday 4th March at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh (10.30 – 1.30pm). Our keynote speaker will be Barry Knight from Centris – the Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Policy Ltd. Barry’s background includes working as an advisor to UK Govts on economic development and the third sector. We still have space for 10/15 folk. To book your place – see Booking Form


Desk space available: Senscot moved into new premises in Walker St in Edinburgh’s West End in September. We share the space with the Scottish Community Alliance; Community Transport Association; Equal Futures; and SCRT. We now have one desk space (possibly two) available for an individual/organisation – sharing in a room with others. If interested, email.


This week’s bulletin profiles one of Scotland’s more established social firms – that has been on the go for over 40 years. Haven Sign Factory specialises in providing employment and training opportunities for over 220 disabled workers across its six sites, predominantly based in Scotland. In January 2015, Haven Sign Factory moved into a new state of the art facility in Larbert – and offers the complete range of signage services – from design through to installation. Haven Sign Factory – along with other Haven enterprises – comes under the banner of Momentum Scotland which, in turn, is part of the international charity – the Rehab Group.


From a speech given by R.D.Laing – Scottish psychiatrist to an audience of psychotherapists – in Edinburgh – October 1983.


“There is nothing in the world more enjoyable than to be in communion with another human being.  This has nothing to do with technique.  Once it is there it is a field – a sort of force field that is not to be discovered within the investigative competence of science.  So I will have to call it spiritual.  It is the tuning in to a spiritual field that is always there.  It has to do with attunement – two instruments getting in tune with each other – harmonising.  It is quite an experience.  In Christian terminology the name they have given to this healing force is the Holy Ghost.  Holy means healthy and spirit means ghost. There is a healthy spirit that exists in us and between us and that is the only healing power that exists as far as I know.  It exists not just between us as a single species – but throughout the whole of creation”. 


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