Senscot Bulletin 20.02.15

Dear members and friends,

            “Kathy had once been a policewoman and had lost her job when she married a cheap little crook called Johnny Horne – to reform him.  She hadn’t reformed him, but was waiting for him to get out of jail – so she could try again.”  This is pure Raymond Chandler – even doing cynicism with style.  The passage reminds me of the years I spent as a ‘detached’ youth worker – running with a particularly ‘wild bunch’ – mixed memories.
            In my (idealistic) late 20’s – I became aware of the seductive, brutal culture of street gangs – which ruin young lives.  I (recklessly) determined to get closer to this world – and gained uneasy acceptance on the edge of the dominant group.  Looking back on that period is uncomfortable for me – I got a bit ‘too’ detached – lost my bearings; the moth that gets too close to the candle…
            Although the appetite for street work is far behind me – I never joined the cynics; when I come across enthusiastic youth workers – I’m full of admiration.  As the flame dies in us auld yins – fresh generous young people step up to the mark – new carriers of the light; that’s just the way it is.  Raymond Chandler takes a less sentimental view of this ‘continuity’ – this is the end of ‘the Big Sleep’.  “On the way downtown I stopped at a bar and had a couple of double scotches.  They didn’t do me any good.  All they did was make me think of Silver Wig, and I never saw her again.”


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 (now at 72). Senscot’s board is elected by and is accountable to these members. 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 more (final three weeks).


All humans have the impulse to help each other – even Adam Smith recognised this in his writings.  What we call the third sector, is where as a society, we organise this universal impulse into voluntary action. It’s where we seek to protect our activities from the encroachment of the state or the markets.  Yet, in our time, ambitious bankers would make us a profit yielding asset class for their investments – no thanks.  And ambitious politicians would have us prepare conscript youngsters for the jobs market – no thanks.  The social capital which our work generates is not an added frill – but is absolutely essential for the cohesion that makes our society work.  Please leave us to get on with it.  Show more respect. See more


The stories of tax avoidance which continue to leak into the public domain – reinforce the view that British society favours a mean and greedy elite.  The DWP has 3,250 staff investigating benefit fraud of £1.7 billion.  By comparison, HMRC has only 300 staff investigating tax evasion of £70 billion.  It seems that the spiv culture of the City of London now permeates the British Establishment.  See more.


The assumption that there is no alternative to austerity for Europe – is challenged in a book: ‘Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, by USA economics professor Mark Blyth.  In this interview, he explains his thinking; although it’s obviously complicated – I think he favours postponing debt repayments – protecting public services – reducing the influence of bankers.  I’ll vote for that.  See more.


Here’s a new term – ‘The Democratic Sector’; on March 5th – 10am-4.30pm – Edinburgh Yoonie invites us to a free event at Pollock Halls called Democratic Sector Day; an encounter between people doing public participation work in Scotland. To become influential, this ‘sector’ needs to organise – find leadership. See more. On the same day – after this session – you can stroll through the Queens Park to the Parliament – where Lesley Riddoch is hosting a Nordic Horizons event featuring Uffe Elbaek, the Danish MP and social entrepreneur. Also a free session. See more.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Midlothian Voluntary Action/Social Enterprise Alliance Midlothian, Bloombox Salads, Stepping Stones for Families, Transition Stirling/Fintry Development Trust, Edinburgh Community Food, Forth Environment Link
EVENTS: Aberdeen Roadshow, 24 Feb; Advanced Leadership Practice, 25 Feb; An Introduction to Selling, 25 Feb; Community Land and Buildings Seminar, 6 Mar; Participatory Leadership Training, 8 Mar;
TENDERS: Business Support – Project 81 Youth and Community Enterprise, Specialist Residential Dementia Care and Support – Scottish Borders Council, Supply and delivery of fresh fruit, vegetables and potatoes – Orkney Islands Council and more.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Following the circulation of the SE Vision 2025, we are hosting a meeting for SEN Chairs and Co-ordinators to feed in their views on the document. Date set is Thursday, 5th March (10.30 -12.30) at our offices in Manor Place, Edinburgh. Our feedback has, in the main, been pretty positive – with some caveats: how do we practically go about improving relationships with local authorities; relationships with local Interfaces and their SE support function; will actions being proposed genuinely filter down to a local level; is the role of SENs and their potential being fully appreciated; and, is this not an opportunity to address the issue of ‘overlapping’ intermediaries. The session will give an opportunity to talk these issues through. For more SENs News, see here.


Job Advert: Closing date is next Friday, 27th Feb for applications for our Health/Community Food SEN Co-ordinator’s post. The post, funded through Scottish Govt, will seek to provide ongoing support to both the Health and Community Food SENs and Roundtables. For an application pack etc, see more


SCRT has been successful is securing the post of Financial Research Assistant via SCVO’s Business Growth Graduate Internship Programme. This is a paid position (for 13 weeks) and will assist SCRT in establishing an online database of the current financial products and services available to third sector organisations. The online resource will help review and guide third sector organisations in sourcing the right financial products and services for them. The closing date is next Friday – 27th Feb 2015. See details 


The Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum (SURF) has been running its ‘Alliance for Action’ pilot in two communities that experience particular social and economic challenges – Govan and Gallatown (Kirkaldy). The objective of this initiative has been to explore the evolving context and practical options for achieving more participative and sustainable community regeneration. SURF has now produced an interim report on its work to date and will be developing a further proposal to build on the success and scope of the Alliance for Action approach. See Report


No-one any longer disputes that more equal societies work better than those with wide income disparity – and the living wage movement is gathering momentum. But I have reluctantly accepted that the imposition of a maximum wage is also necessary to bring down ratios. Even in the USA – certain states concede preferential public contract bidding to corporations with restricted top-to-bottom pay ratios (e.g. Rhode Island 1:32). Iain McKenzie – MP for Inverclyde – writes about his maximum wage campaign. See more


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Inverclyde that seeks to provide high quality therapeutic interventions to the people of Inverclyde in a safe and confidential environment. MindMosaic Counselling and Therapy, based in Greenock, was established by a group of professional people who had identified a need for a provision of high quality counselling and psychotherapy services in Greenock, Gourock and Port Glasgow. Despite Inverclyde being an area of high deprivation, there are no cost free generic counselling services, no GP counselling provision and no counselling in schools provision available. MindMosaic aims to redress this imbalance. See more


In his later novel ‘The Long Goodbye’ – Raymond Chandler permits Marlow an unusually full personal statement – bleak:


“I’m a licensed private investigator and have been for quite a while. I’m a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged, and not rich.  I’ve been in jail more than once and I don’t do divorce business.  I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things.  The cops don’t like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with.  I’m a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers or sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, nobody will feel that the bottom has dropped out of his or her life.” 


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