Senscot Bulletin: 19.12.14

Dear members and friends,
             Today’s bulletin – the one before the festive break – is always the least read of our weekly emails; so many of us winding down our work now – facing towards home and families. I have long felt that this is the most natural of holidays – to mark the ending of an old, tired year – and to charge our batteries for the ‘a guid new one’: there is deep psychological resonance in the tale of this renewal. Dickens tells it well with old Scrooge; his harrowing encounters with his past, present and future selves; and then redemption – as he becomes reconciled with his own hope and generosity. This transformational theme hovers around the festive break – but few of us have the courage for radical change.
            Before wrapping up 2014 – we should acknowledge that our referendum was a gamechanger; an entire nation debating politics – exploring what it might become; the notion of winners and losers doesn’t help us understand what happened – is still happening. What’s new is that civil society has created its own spaces and networks – where politics happens away from the arranged circus of the main parties. Under the radar – these groupings explore mergers and alliances. In the mainstream – London sends a ‘bruiser’ north to sort out Scottish Labour; but our electorate is just as likely to send Alex Salmond south with a raiding party to noise up Westminster. A remarkable thing happened in Scotland last September – momentous – no-one knows how it will play out in 2015 and beyond. As Tiny Tim says, “God bless one and all of us”.       
Some say that the Scottish Labour Party is a spent force – the branch office of a party attuned to the politics of the south of England. Jim Murphy has been duly elected as the new leader – and has picked his team for the decisive contests ahead. He is a clever operator with a formidable reputation – Labour is fighting for its very survival in Scotland. Alex Salmond is fighting for Scottish independence – if he can go down to Westminster with, say 20, Scottish seats – he may well wield critical influence. These are two sluggers – don’t be surprised if the gloves come off; feelings run deep – it won’t be pretty. In the May 2015 general election – our electorate will deliver an important verdict to the Scottish Labour Party. See,  
One of the more promising fruits of the whole indyref phenomenon has been the emergence of the Common Weal think tank – initially from the Jimmy Reid Foundation – then its evolution into a free standing social network. Common Weal continues to evolve, with the launch this week of CommonSpace – its brand new digital news service in Scotland; this positions it nicely to build its following. The link is their version of what CommonSpace aspires to become; an alternative news service; an aggregation of the best opinion pieces out there; a way to keep the impressive movement for change energised. Their piece says: “When we return for full service on 6th Jan, we should have things nicely polished.” See,
The spread of local shops run by communities and making food available to people who find themselves in crisis poverty – have obvious virtuous connections. This week saw the launch of the UK’s first two social supermarkets – in Yorkshire and London; these serve a specific geographical area – develop a ‘membership’ who can purchase quality food and 70% discount. Also heard good programme on Radio 4 about the continental model of ‘social solidarity shops’ (150 in Belgium alone) which are less concerned with recycling out of date surpluses – more emphasis on the cultivation and distribution of locally grown fresh produce. The vibe suggests this movement will grow. See,
Senscot campaigns against the growth of a ‘social sector’ which operates for private profit – too confusing for the public. This year we walked away from unLtd which has become a leading English champion of such private/social ventures. See,
Saving money on grants to community based care projects is the most foolhardy economics for local authorities; because well run projects can prevent family collapse – which is massively expensive in human terms and to the finances of the statutory sector. Lesley Riddoch writes compellingly in the Sunday Post about the case of the Easterhouse Alcohol Information Service (AIS) which faces closure.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: RAMH, With Kids, Remade in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Cyrenians Trust, Bloombox Salads, The Caravan Project/ Family Holiday Co-operative,
EVENTS: Leading Growth for Aspiring Leaders (Award in Leadership), 04 Feb; Media Training (Public Sector, Charities, NGOs & Social Enterprises), 04 Feb; Pre-Start Leadership, 05 Feb; Social Impact Measurement, 19 Feb; Advanced Leadership Practice, 25 Feb;
TENDERS: CashBack for Communities: Delivery Partner, Scottish Government; Tender for Digital Communications Manager, Love Loch Lomond; Local Authority Communications Resource, Zero Waste Scotland; 
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: As this is the last SENs News of 2014, it’s time to reflect on activity the last twelve months – relating to both local and thematic SENs. Significantly, membership and engagement with the SENs has grown by approximately 50% – from 470 in Dec 2013 to almost 700 today – and reflects not only the benefits of SENs to grassroots SEs but also an increasing presence and influence at a local level. Particular highlights have include Edinburgh SENs Social in the Square; the GSEN Trade Show; Dundee SEN SE Mapping Report; the 10th SE Conference and Ceilidh; further Joint Thematic Roundtable events; engagement with Sustainable Sport for Communities Fund; Tourism Activity (full report);  supporting SE contribution to the impending Health and Social Care Integration programme; and participation in the European SEN. All these activities – and more – will remain on the agenda in the year ahead. For more SENs News, see
 Following the launch of The Scottish Community Re:Investment Trust ( ), one of its first activities will be to host a one day Crowdfunding masterclass in January. The Masterclass will be led by Theresa Burton, co-founder and CEO of Buzzbnk (, and will be targeting third sector organisations looking to launch crowdfunding campaigns (lending and/or reward or donation models) in the near future. If you would like to participate, contact for details. Also available now is Airdrie Savings Bank’s Anchor Savings Account – set up with SCRT – as our first product seeking to harness the resources of Scotland third sector. See These accounts are open to both organisations and individuals.
 This year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh was the 10th that Senscot has hosted and – in the eyes on many – one of the more successful events. The event was first run in 2005 and specifically designed for grassroot SEN members to meet up and share their experiences. This year, over 140 folk attended, representing 17 SENs – making up 72% of attendees. Here’s this year’s report,
Plans are already afoot for 2015 – which will see some significant new developments. Watch this space!!
 The first tranche of successful applicants to the £1 million Legacy 2014: Sustainable Sport for Communities Fund was announced this week. 21 organisations (11 in strand1 and 10 in strand 2) will receive, between them, over £530,000 for the development of local sporting facilities for use by local communities – as well as contributing to their longer term sustainability. The Fund has been established by the Scottish Govt and The Robertson Trust and is also supported by Social Investment Scotland (SIS), sportscotland and Senscot. See more,
This week’s bulletin profiles a Fair Trade shop – based in George Street in Edinburgh. Hadeel aims to provide a sustainable source of income for craftspeople working with social enterprises in the West Bank, Gaza, as well as in Galilee and Negev. Its work also helps to sustain infrastructures, as many of the producer groups also provide health, education and emergency services in their communities which lack any form of local government which might do this. Hadeel is owned by the Scottish charity Palcrafts – with surpluses gift aided to Palcrafts which distributes small development grants to its producers. For more, see
Meg Bateman is one of the most popular contemporary Gaelic poets; raised in Edinburgh, she now lives in Skye. This poem is translated from the Gaelic by the author.


After the Funeral


The widow stands at the door and leans her head against the wall. All is quiet. The guests are fed and mostly gone, and the sea and the town are grey, grey, with the fishing boats silently putting out. She hears the talk of the women in the kitchen and the old men with their drams discussing a life well lived. ‘It’s been kind of a happy day,’ she says, looking at her boys, each with his something of his father in his face.
Suddenly the sun stabs out bars of lemon-yellow light over the fields of glowering corn, dragons of mist are whisked up and away across the bay, and as she turns back to the house you can still see in her face the dead man’s love for it all.


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