Senscot Bulletin: 19.10.18

Dear members and friends,

The Scotsman ‘Food and Drink’ writer, Stephen Jardine, posted his column on Saturday from Picinisco – “the tiny Italian town that’s given Scotland so much”. Nota Bene: that includes me. Nestled in the Abruzzi foothills of the Apennines, Picinisco has just over a thousand residents – but there are an estimated 36,000 Scots, who, like myself, are descended from these ‘pairts’. Both nonno Demarco and nonno DiCiacca were conscripted to fight on the merciless Italian front of the First World War; on demobilisation they quickly moved to Scotland – Demarcos to Edinburgh – DiCiaccas to Glasgow; my mum and dad got hitched in the 1930s. Jardine’s piece informs, that next year has been chosen to hold centenary celebrations of Scotland/Picinisco connection. I think 1919 is exactly the year my lot came over.

My grandparents were economic migrants – lacking the basics for a tolerable life; one hundred years (and four generations) later, it’s a different story. Open borders have brought prosperity across the European community; Brits now move to Italy, Spain, France etc (better weather). But the Scottish govt. is very clear – people, with the circumstances and the spirit of my grandparents, will always be made welcome in Scotland.

December 1992, the Meadows in Edinburgh, William McIlvanney addressing some 30,000 marchers for ‘Scottish Democracy’; Neal Ascherson records: “In a tone of tremendous pride he said: ‘Scottishness is not some pedigree lineage. This is a mongrel tradition.’ At those words – for reasons no one quite understood – the crowd broke into cheers, which lasted on and on!” I’m grateful and proud to be part of this.



On Tuesday, former PM John Major gave the Michael Quinlan Lecture; this extract makes clear that he considers the Brexit decision a ‘colossal misjudgement’ – which will diminish both the UK and the EU – damage our wealth, and limit the prospects of our young: “those who promised what will never be delivered, will have much to answer for.” He says that the UK is presently a buffer between the Franco/German steamroller and the small nations – that our departure will destabilise the EU. We shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of the open, harmonious borders we enjoy. I’m not thinking of protocols for the free movement of goods, services, capital; I mean the human relationships of friendship and goodwill; it’s the ‘social capital’ that really keeps things moving. Will ‘Brits abroad’ become less welcome?



The global ‘impact investment’ fraternity gathered in New Delhi recently to promote their industry – which seeks to address social problems, while earning market rate returns. I just can’t get comfy with this – that the essential premise of a just society should be subject to market preferences – and an important book mirrors my unease: ‘Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World’, by Anand Giridharadas. How, he asks, can we achieve social justice through a system that perpetuates vast differences in privilege – and then tasks the privileged with improving the system: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”. Good book review.



I was shaken this week by the story of progressive Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi being ‘eliminated’ by the Saudi regime. If the stories are true, this is an act of outrageous savagery – which calls for a considered and proportionate response. Sadly, we meet people who have ‘given up’ – only see the cynicism and hypocrisy – don’t believe that anything we do makes a difference; but there are levels of savagery to which we must never acclimatise – or we degrade our own humanity. I don’t care how many zillions they spend on UK armaments – such thuggery invites worldwide horror and must be condemned.


Two writers whom I admire, recognise the distances between people.

“Once the realization is accepted, that even between the closest human beings, infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow; if they succeed in loving the distance between them, it’s possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters to a Young Poet.

“Wouldn’t we all do better not trying to understand, accepting the fact that no human being will ever understand another, not a wife with a husband, nor a parent a child? Perhaps that’s why men have invented God – a being capable of understanding. ” Graham Greene: The Quiet American.

Partnership for Procurement (P4P) was established to provide support to the third sector to access public procurement and other contracting opportunities. Last week, P4P launched a series of short videos profiling the Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing (SCHW) consortium. SCHW is made up of organisations which are embedded in their communities, have established trust and respect and are governed by boards of local people in their communities – check them out on the P4P YouTube page. P4P is also looking for submissions for its Partnership Opportunities page – if you are looking for partners for an upcoming tender or project, you can get in touch with the P4P team here or by emailing Remember to visit the P4P website for a range of resources/toolkits, including regular tender updates.

Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding


It’s all change at GSEN HQ this month, as Elizabeth managed to secure the network its first office space in Glasgow. GSEN join network member Wasps Studios in a shared office space overlooking the courtyard in the stunning 19th century Briggait building. Wasps Studios still has a number of office spaces for cultural organisations and social enterprises left to let, so if you’re looking for a new home, find out more here. The excitement doesn’t stop there though, as GSEN is also looking to expand its operations with the recruitment of a Membership and Business Administrator. The role will look to expand and engage with the membership to fully understand their needs and influence GSEN activity. Please share with your networks and, if you’re interested, you can apply here.



Frontline News: The Blankfaces, a Glasgow-based clothing brand which aims to tackle homelessness, was one of 20 social enterprises to benefit from the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund this week. Founder Gerard McKenzie-Govan received a £12,500 award from Firstport’s Build It programme to help grow his business. The Blankfaces bring fashion students and the homeless community together to collaborate on design, giving those facing housing insecurity a platform to tell their story. Among the other recipients was Borders SEN member Eat Sleep Ride CIC, who picked up a £25,000 award. The next deadline for Build It awards has been set for Thursday 31 January 2019.



The Scottish Government highlights in its Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2026 that “public contracts are among the most accessible in the world to SMEs and social enterprises”. While new legislation has opened up opportunities to tackle inequalities, promote innovation and create jobs, you can join Social Firms Scotland at an event which will debate what real progress has been made – Procurement: The Art of the Possible. Speakers at the event will include procurement commissioners, the P4P team, and a number of front-line social enterprises. Friday November 16, Glasgow. Registration is free.



Earlier this month, several Community Food SEN members attended a seminar on Understanding Food Insecurity in Scotland. Organised by A Menu for Change and NHS Health Scotland, the seminar focused how this can be measured, to then provide evidence that can be used to inform policy and enact change. We heard by video link from Prof Valerie Tarasuk (University of Toronto) on the learning for policy and practice development in Canada, from the Scottish Government on Insights from the Scottish Health Survey, and from Dr Mary Anne MacLeod on how A Menu for Change is using research to make change. Contact for more information.



This week’s bulletin profiles a community-owned caravan and recreation park located in the village of Johnshaven – just north of Montrose. Wairds Park Campsite has pitches (fully serviced with electricity and running water) for 15 caravans and 16 tents – and facilities that include showers, toilets, laundry room, food preparation area and a disabled toilet. In addition, Wairds Park has a range of sporting activities available to visitors that include tennis, bowling and 18-hole putting. The land on which the Park is located was gifted to the community back in 1923 – and has now evolved into a major asset for both the local community and visitors alike. You can read about other examples of community-run tourist facilities in our recent Senscot Briefings – ‘Community Tourism – the role of social enterprise’.