Senscot Bulletin: 19.05.17

Dear members and friends,
When I was adolescent, a schoolmaster told me I had ‘an unusual ability to get the job done’.  The ‘action man’ version of myself which gradually emerged was not entirely comfortable – certainly bold and inventive – but also wild and profligate; the power of making things happen in the ‘public world’ was seductive.  We constantly meet people – who in spite of all their talk – you just know nothing’s going to happen here; I’ve always sought to understand the essential qualities of people who ‘just do it’.
If you’ve ever attended a gathering of psychotherapists – attuned to our inner world – you may have observed their determination to consider every possible perspective – resulting in decision paralysis.  Do certain personality types choose certain professions?  Is ‘making things happen’ a personality type? Someone who has taught creative writing for ten years – said this week that the most telling quality for a writer is a capacity to summon the energy.  Is ‘making things happen’ simply a function of energy?
            One of the blessings of old age is that interest in doing stuff in the public world wanes.  Wednesday, sitting in a chair in sunshine – planting out sweet peas – suddenly joined by a very agitated woman of my age.  ‘I’ve seen a cuckoo’ she says – she’s overwhelmed; ‘Gosh’ I say, ‘a cuckoo’.  Truth is, I wouldn’t recognise a cuckoo – so, unlike this lady, I don’t cherish my yearly ‘first sighting’ – but I envy her and that’s where I’m trying to go: events in the ‘public world’ yielding place to nature’s seasonal miracles.


Several of my friends and acquaintances were part of the wave of enthusiasts who joined SNP following the 2014 indyref; I’ve heard them speak of feeling ‘let down’ by subsequent events and often wonder if anything could have been done to continue the amazing political engagement which then gripped our country.  Independence as a nationalistic yes/no is too easily attacked – but I believe that a grass-roots movement, around devolving power to citizens and communities, would have kept the pot simmering.  This New Statesman article distinguishes between the SNPs brand of centralist, nationalistic independence – and the more radical version of the Scottish Greens; where a self-governing Scotland is seen as a step towards a post-national world; a step towards passing power down to communities.


Jeremy Corbyn has produced a most impressive manifesto; whoever wins this election – we have, at long last, a clear outline of how a modern left-of-centre Party could consolidate social democracy in this country; we have a new benchmark. During Blairism, the main excuse ‘non voters’ gave, was the similarity of the parties – well, they’re different now! In spite of all the press barons being Tories – I start to feel ‘the audacity of hope’; that people will choose governance for the many.


I’m critical of the Scottish Govt’s reluctance to share bad news – it makes them seem dishonest. This article, in the Daily Record (10th May), says that in Lothian, two GP practices have already closed – another will in June; and that seven have been taken under Health Board control. This article, in the Times (12th May), says that because of the doctors’ recruitment crisis – trials are underway whereby patients calling their own GP will be assessed by the triage service of NHS 24. If our GP services are really so close to crisis – there should be an urgent national discussion which transcends political party bickering. Our govt. must stop behaving as if this is some shameful personal tragedy; there are millions of citizens out here with the will and wit to fix things – but have the courage to tell us our options.


In July 2015, I attended a seminar in Edinburgh at which Jan de Blok from the Netherlands spoke about the Buurtzorg (neighbourhood care) model of community nursing which he founded in 2007.  I was most impressed by the devolved, bottom up structure: teams of ten, self-organising district nurses – fully responsible for the health and social care of around fifty people in their homes.  This Guardian update piece recounts the international spread of de Blok’s model; this includes pilots around Scotland – one of the most advanced by Cornerstone, the homecare social enterprise.


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


JOBS: Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Dunoon Burgh Hall Trust, Social Enterprise Academy, Scottish Waterways Trust, Shettleston Housing Association,


EVENTS: The Bike Station Community Hub launch, 20 May; Social Enterprise: Start-up Awareness, 24 May; Supporting Communities Through Social Enterprise: Bringing Your Ideas To Life, 1 Jun;


TENDERS: Provision of Fresh Fruit & Vegetables – Aberdeenshire Council; Mental Health and Well-being Link Worker Pilot – North Ayrshire Council; Interpretive Interactives for HES – Historic Environment Scotland and more.  Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Senscot welcomes Scottish Govt’s commitment to developing a National Strategy to tackle Loneliness and Social Isolation. In response to this, we invite SEN members to join us in making their contribution to shaping and informing the Strategy. We are hosting a joint SEN discussion on the Strategy – taking place on Wednesday 7th June at our Glasgow office (43 Bath Street), between 1.30pm – 3.30pm. The event will give members the opportunity to identify key messages they want flagged up at a national level. It is also our intention to develop our own policy briefing on ‘Loneliness and Isolation’ in Scotland – outlining the work that SEs do to tackle this issue; providing case studies of best practice; and identifying relevant policy areas. To sign up, see link above – or email


Our Govt’s recent SE Strategy and Action Plan, affirm the Voluntary SE Code of Practice as the benchmark for social enterprise in Scotland – asset-locked. Some colleagues argue that profit-distributing businesses – ‘mission-led’; ‘socially responsible’; ‘profit for purpose’ etc – could damage our brand – but I don’t agree – so long as it’s made clear that they are not social enterprises – and are not directly funded through the Govt’s Third Sector Division. Even Cliff Prior, CEO of Big Society Capital understands this: “We are very careful not to dilute the distinct place of the social enterprise brand – which is why we apply different titles; we’re not saying that this is part of social enterprise – it’s a different thing”.


Whilst the SE Code may be accepted as the benchmark for social enterprise in Scotland, the perspective from other parts of the globe (and UK) can differ. In this respect, a couple of articles this week are worth a look. First up is – WTF is Social Enterprise – taken from the Australian online Mag, Social Good Stuff, with some ‘definitions’ of SE from international colleagues. Second article is a more challenging and cautionary piece in the Guardian – from an American viewpoint – on an approach (referred to as ‘reductive seduction’) taken by some western-based social entrepreneurs etc in developing countries – that, it appears, can create more problems than they solve. These approaches are worth bearing mind as our Govt – via its Internationalising Social Enterprise Strategy – looks to encourage SEs in Scotland to build international links.


Firstport – our SE start-up agency – is now in its 10th year. Since 2009, it has been administering the Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund – via a range of separate programmes. This month, it has announced a raft of new awards – last week, LaunchMe – supporting eight emerging SEs; and, this week,  announcing awards to four female social entrepreneurs via their Build It programme. The Social Entrepreneurs Fund has made 482 awards to date – distributing £3.4 million across Scotland. In April 2017, the Scottish Govt announced that the Social Entrepreneurs Fund will double to £1m for each of the next three years.


This week’s bulletin profiles a trading subsidiary set up by one of Scotland’s best known charities – Penumbra – providing a more effective and accessible approach to mental health assessment. I.ROC Wellbeing offers an online toolkit that has a set of measurement tools that are designed to be more ‘meaningful and measurable’. It has also been designed with flexibility in mind, with the personal outcomes of the individual placed at the heart of its mission. Already there has been considerable international interest in IROC from Spain, Holland as well the United States and Canada. The I.ROC toolkit has been developed in partnership with Abertay University in Dundee. Here’s a helpful 60 second video as a simple guide.


During the counterculture (hippie) movement of the 1960s – I found Herman Hesse’s novel Siddharta – went on to enjoy lots of his stuff; his ‘quest for enlightenment’ theme still resonates – find this a comforting quote:


“If what matters in a person’s existence is to accept the inevitable consciously, to taste the good and bad to the full and to make for oneself a more individual, unaccidental and inward destiny alongside one’s external fate, then my life has been neither empty nor worthless.  Even if, as it is decreed by the gods, fate has inexorably trod over my external existence as it does with everyone, my inner life has been of my own making.  I deserve its sweetness and its bitterness and accept full responsibility for it.”


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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