Senscot Bulletin: 20.04.18

Dear members and friends,
South African novelist JM Coetzee wrote: “Become major.  Live like a hero.  That’s what the classics teach us.  Be a main character.  Otherwise what is life for.”  I recognise in these words, something of myself as a young man.  By the end of my teens, I behaved like I had more energy than most people; from whatever childhood turbulence, I was a ‘driven’ spirit – sometimes ‘manic’.  Thankfully, my young self is a receding memory – except that last week there was a kind of ‘reunion’.

During the 1980s, I was part of an extraordinary flowering of community development, in Edinburgh’s Wester Hailes housing estate; for locals and for those of us getting paid – it was a powerful experience of working together successfully; hundreds joined in.  Last week, one of that old gang throws a big birthday party – find myself chatting with people I haven’t seen for 30 years.  Hearing how their different lives are unfolding, I reflect that none of us has changed much; except that age adjusts our priorities – clarifies what’s important.

Betty, at the party, remembers my passionate conviction, that my final homeland would be Andalucia – a rural ‘finca’, looking down across the Mediterranean.  Smiling, I tell her that this dream has left me – just faded away.  I remember a beautiful passage from the final interview with Chilean writer, the late Roberto Bolano: “My two children are my only homeland.  And in second place, maybe a few instants, a few streets, a few faces or scenes or books – that live within me.”



Rough sleeping is the public face of Tory philosophy – which makes distinction between ‘deserving poor’ and ‘indolent scroungers’.  In Finland, virtually no-one sleeps on the street – because they house everyone; not as a reward for beating your addiction – or proving you can maintain a tenancy – everyone deemed as ‘deserving’.  The basics for a decent life – health care, housing, heat, food etc – are regarded as fundamental human rights; which comes down to the distribution of wealth in a society; which comes down to its dominant political philosophy.  The ancient Greek poet Aeschylus (500BC) summarised the challenge: “to tame the savagery of Man – and make gentle the life of this world.”  ‘Savage’ is a good word for rough sleeping.



Through a ‘freedom of information’ request – the Ferret has calculated that, over three years, Scottish Enterprise (SE) has invested £50m in private companies that have folded.  It’s certainly appropriate that the Govt’s main economic development agency should have this option – but we need to know, that alongside theselosers – SE also picks some ‘winners’ – and what is the ratio.  It would also be good to know if our third sector – asset-locked to promote the public good – enjoys the equivalent generous access to ‘high risk’ public funds.



Because of malls, online shopping etc, High St shops in Scotland continue to struggle and close (circa 290 in 2017); the core public spaces in our towns, which connect and animate citizens, are losing momentum. Accepting that we will never get back to the previous level of retail – other, non-market strategies are required to save the soul of our High streets. This article from CommonSpace looks at future town centres, as moving away from such a retail focus – towards more general community hubs, arts and performance spaces, creches etc; the realm of civil society, the social economy and the towns’ own Development Trust.



In 1948, short of labour after the war, Britain invited migration from the Caribbean; some children, who came on parents’ passports, never got documentation – and now, over fifty years later, are being deported which is totally disgraceful. These are people who worked across all sectors, paid taxes, raised families – normal citizens. In the Commons on Monday, furious MP, David Lammy branded the situation a ‘day of national shame’ – blamed the Tories for the hostility towards migrants: “Let’s call it what it is – if you lie down with dogs, you get fleas – and that’s what happened with far-right rhetoric in this country”.



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

JOBS: WHALE Arts and Tasting Change, East Kilbride Credit Union, The Ripple, Forth Valley Social Enterprises, Lifelink, Mid Argyll Community Enterprises Ltd, New Cumnock Development Trust;

EVENTS: Maryhill Pedal Power – Connecting Cycling, Energy and Waste, 21 Apr; Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens UK Conference:24 Apr; Learning Lunch @ The Circle, 25 Apr;

TENDERS: Collection, Treatment, Recovery/Disposal of Tyres – Aberdeenshire Council, Digital Tourism Scotland Programme – Scottish Enterprise, Associate Trainers (Health and Wellbeing) –  Edinburgh College


The SENs Weekly Update: Tourism in Scotland has been hitting the headlines this week, with news of a £150m investment in scotch whisky tourism from Diageo, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Visit Scotland. Scotland’s historic attractions have also been in the limelight, attracting five million visitors in a single year for the first time. The final part of a media triple whammy was the Scottish Government’s announcement of a £6m global ad campaign to boost Scotland’s image across North America and China. Tourism has always been a valuable asset to the Scottish economy although the beneficiaries can sometimes be concentrated in particular areas of the country. Our most recent Briefing – Community Tourism: The Role of Social Enterprise – examines the important contribution of locally-led initiatives – ensuring a more equal distribution of the benefits tourism can bring to many more communities across Scotland.



As part of last year’s SE Action Plan’s ‘early actions’, Senscot Legal has produced a new document – Governance Guiding Principles for Social Enterprises, supported by Scottish Government. Senscot Legal has consulted with organisations across the sector to produce this guidance – including OSCR who have assisted with specific guidance for charities. The ‘Guiding Principles’ – which include seven key principles – provide practical governance advice and resources tailored to fit all sizes of social enterprises – and can also easily be applied to the wider third sector.



The countdown is now on for the SEN Community Bond Offer – which closes on Monday 7th May. This is a unique opportunity for SEN members to demonstrate their mutual support for one another – for the sector; by the sector. How about joining investors like Brag Enterprises; Dundee SEN; Inspiralba; CFINE Aberdeen; DTA Scotland; The Melting Pot and others –  in showing your support. To do so, see details.



There is divided opinion in various quarters about the merits of Arms-Length External Organisations – aka ALEOs. Are they, as they claim, truly independent of local authorities and providing valuable local services – or are they essentially just means for Councils to cut costs via reduced rates (through charitable status) –  often offering inferior pay and conditions compared to Council employees? Last week saw news that Glasgow City Council is bringing two of its biggest ALEOs back ‘in house’. Unison, Scotland’s biggest public sector union, is now calling on the City Council to do likewise with its other seven.



Duncan Thorp from Social Enterprise Scotland writes regular articles for the Scotsman newspaper – talking up the role and potential of social enterprise within the Scottish economy. A recent article on the SE Census 2017 has caught the attention of colleagues across the Atlantic. The US-based Nonprofit Quarterly has picked up on Duncan’s article and – as well as extrapolating a number of the stats to give US parallels – focuses on a number of the differences in SE practice between US and Scotland. Particular attention is given to the inclusion of co-ops and credit unions in the SE movement in Scotland and the importance of the SE Voluntary Code of Practice – based on the principles of common ownership and democratic governance.



This week’s bulletin profiles the only carpet re-use social enterprise in the North-East of Scotland. Carpetinc, one of three subsidiaries of Aberdeen-based Instant Neighbour, was set up to help enable those on low incomes to have access to good quality flooring, lowering heating costs – whilst combining social welfare activity with environmental action – re-using carpets that would otherwise end up in the landfill. As a social enterprise, all Carpetinc’s profits go towards Instant Neighbour’s core activities that are all designed to helping those in most need in the city. All their carpets are competitively priced with a delivery and fitting service – undertaken by professional carpet fitters.



From ‘The Poor had No Lawyers’ by Andy Wightman (see reviews)


“Land is about power.  It is about how power is derived, defined, distributed and exercised.  It always has been and it still is thanks to a legal system that has historically been constructed and adapted to protect the interests of private property.  The few counter balances to this, such as the defence of public rights to foreshore or to burgh commons, have been significant but limited in scope.  Ultimately, the dispensation of land we have today is the product of centuries of vested interests organising things to their own advantage.  We are thus living with both a legacy and a culture that have become so ingrained as to be almost invisible and have been subject to only the most cursory and short-term critique”.


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210