I’ve moved past the stage of pretending that this pandemic won’t reach Scotland; I now accept that this is a serious crisis, which may even come to define our era. Rather than dwell on the daily stats i.e. my own prospect of survival – I’ve been wondering if this disruption has any possible benefits.
In the first place, I think the pandemic will expose both Johnston and Trump; they are both brilliant populist campaigners and self-promoters – but with so many lives at risk, the voters will want ‘grown-ups’ in charge. Also, our magnificent NHS is not sustainable unless we each reduce our demands and expectations; the pandemic may advance this realisation. Also, technological progress will gradually make it necessary to give every citizen some money, independent of any work they do; the expected relaxation of sick pay rules could ‘familiarise’ such mechanisms. Of course, in the face of anticipated death tolls, any benefits are marginal; as ‘lockdown’ spreads, so will fear; those who can, will try to steady the ship.
Personally, I feel fortunate that the prospect of ‘self-isolation’ has no major concerns for me; I have a country cottage and garden – good heat and food – I don’t feel the need for much more – lucky laddie. Over many years, I’ve accumulated dozens of pot plants, which I ‘browsed’ on Sunday. Most are still winter dormant, but in one nine-inch pot, seven different species of tiny plants have self-seeded: a wee miracle. I’ve brought it indoors for a while – this example of the triumphant life force: a timely metaphor.
Only three days after I wrote the intro-column (above), the national sense of urgency has risen noticeably; it’s difficult to find anything in the media that is not about the virus and its damage to the economy. Ian Macwhirter writes: “poverty kills people too” – that we need to put the economy onto a kind of war footing – with deep state involvement. Money needs to get into people’s pockets, and fast; what we did for the banks in 2008, we now need to do for the people. Like me, he believes it will come to some kind of universal payment to needy citizens – to prevent a spending lockdown. (Ian Blackford’s letter to PM) What’s already happening to airlines, restaurants hotels etc could destroy the economy within a couple of months.
This is a powerful ‘social distancing’ graphic.
A Local Governance Review was jointly launched in December 2017 by Scottish Govt and COSLA; new legislation was intended around the sharing of power between Central and Local Govt. and communities. This is a May 2019 summary of related community consultation called Democracy Matters. Thursday 12th March (last week) was meant to be the launch of the next stage of the Democracy Matters conversation – the piloting of some new models of community governance – but, at the last minute, the launch was postponed, over some disagreement! COSLA President, Alison Evison, is known as a doughty defender of the powers of Local Govt. against a ‘centralising’ Holyrood: but ‘amid their jousting’, Community empowerment gets lost; repeated delays place this initiative in danger of simply petering out.
The relative merits of large and small housing associations is an important debate for the direction of travel of Scotland’s third sector: it’s about the integrity of local economies. I’m strongly biased in favour of the small, locally-owned model – which matures into a generic ‘anchor’ organisation for the development of a particular locality: housing as the core of multiple social enterprises. Good analysis by Mark McLintock of Main St Consulting – he’s more objective than me.
Bernie Saunders seems certain to fail to win the Democratic nomination for president, but his followers are not about to go away. ‘The Future of Socialism in America’ – an engrossing longer read in the FT mag.
I learned much from this interview (2010) with my favourite Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh
“Love, in Buddhism, always begins with yourself, before the manifestation of the other person in your life…True love does not just choose one person. When true love is there, you shine like a lamp. You don’t just shine on one person in the room. That light you emit is for everyone in the room. If you really have love in you, everyone around you will profit—not only humans, but animals, plants, and minerals. Love, true love, is that. True love is equanimity.”
Over and above the primary concerns for people’s wellbeing over the months ahead, our sector is also facing a time of uncertainty and disruption as a result of the coronavirus. In response, many national bodies are taking a lead in seeking to respond to some of the challenges that inevitably will lie ahead. Scottish Govt announced on Wednesday a series of funding initiatives to support the sector over the coming months. As more details emerge, we will be in touch with SENs and their members with updates on these initiatives – how/where to apply; core criteria etc. Much of the information will be found on SCVO’s newly established Covid-19 Third Sector Information Hub. Over the weeks ahead, Senscot, like so many others, will be operating a ‘home-working’ policy. Whilst this will have an obvious impact on what we are able to do, all staff are available online/by phone etc – and we will look to share as much new and relevant information as we possibly can. For updates on all of the above, see new Webpage
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
This week’s Big Issue Magazine is a special edition that has been produced in association with the Social Enterprise Academy and its school across the globe. Following the success of last year’s 16 page supplement highlighting the social enterprises set up in schools across Scotland, this year’s version is an expanded 24 page supplement – covering not just schools in Scotland but across further afield – with a spotlight on new projects in such places as London, Australia and Malawi. Try and make a point of buying a copy this week!
Community Land Scotland (CLS) has added a new page to its website – with a specific spotlight on renewing and repopulating rural Scotland. Last week, CLS presented findings from their recent research to MSPs – which indicated almost one third of communities showing an increase in residents; those of working age; as well as those under 16 years of age. Many of these increases are being attributed to the vital role of community landownership. Calum MacLeod (CLS) stressed to MSPs the importance of retaining both the Scottish Land Fund and the Rural and Islands Housing Funds at their current level.
The Social Enterprise Mark in England is approaching its 10th anniversary. Senscot was involved in the initial steering group – but chose not to fully sign up – preferring to set up our own SE Code in Scotland. Here are some interesting reflections – 10 years down the line – and includes a video from US social entrepreneur, Eric Lombardi (47mins).
Frontline News: Ross McCulloch (Third Sector Lab) hosts a Zoom call Fri 20 March 11am to help folk think about delivering info, support and other services online using livechat, video etc – see Zoom Invite:
Just Enterprise – the business support programme for social enterprises – has provided these helpful updates on their services during these uncertain times – including some changes as well as new additions:
This week’s bulletin profiles a new charity hub in Stirling – that is offering high quality office space, low cost meeting room hire and enjoyable event spaces for charities and social enterprises. The Barracks Conference Centre is the second such venture by the Robertson Trust – following the opening of Robertson House in Glasgow six years ago. Based in Stirling, The Barracks opened in December 2019 and already has a number of well-established organisations as tenants, such as Dyslexia Scotland; Enable Scotland; Forth Environment Link; and Stirling Voluntary Enterprise. As well as office space to rent, The Barracks also has the Robertson Conference Suite – with a capacity for 170 delegates.