Senscot Bulletin: 20.05.16

Dear members and friends,

Casablanca (1942) is one of my all-time favourite films – which I still watch from time to time; I know much of the dialogue by heart.  One of the great scenes is in Rick’s Café – when all the customers stand and sing La Marseillaise – drowning out the anthem of the ‘nasty’ German soldiers.  The scene closes on the passionate face of a young French girl who defiantly, and tearfully shouts ‘vive la France’.  Apparently this woman was called Madeleine Le Beau, who has died in Spain aged 92.
            It seems that Casablanca features on more ‘best film’ lists than any other title – but it’s not obvious why; examined critically the film is full of clichés – even corny.  In this essay about Casablanca, the Italian writer Umberto Eco counts the clichés and suggests that, to some extent, the film ‘made itself’: “If not actually against the will of its authors and actors, then at least beyond their control.”  I don’t consider this fanciful – the creative process is influenced by unconscious forces we don’t understand; but an intellectual analysis misses the point here – myself and others return to this favourite because it makes us feel good: “of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world she walks into mine” – what a line!
            My newsfeed informs that Madeleine Le Beau lived in Estepona – the part of Spain I visit – and that she broke a hip bone in a fall; it also says that she was the last surviving cast member of Casablanca.  Thank you Madeleine – your rendition of La Marseillaise will always inspire us.


John Swinney is an exceptional politician and it will be absorbing to watch him grapple with the education portfolio; closing the ‘attainment gap’ is our biggest challenge and it now has our best minister. Senscot is interested in local democracy and community enterprise and I might have chosen a different minister for this brief; but the portfolio is shared with Jeanne Freeman who looks like she doesn’t mess about. With Greens’ Patrick Harvie and Andy Wightman now ‘inside the citadel’ – community democracy can expect more ‘air time’; readers who share our passion for this subject will enjoy this short piece from SCVO’s Martin Sime – who doesn’t want Scotland’s missing tier of local democracy to result in any externally imposed uniform structure: “at best untidy and uneven self-directed local solutions”.


This evening (20th May) Scottish Woman’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland are holding a ceilidh in Portobello, Edinburgh – to celebrate 40 years of pioneering work.  I can remember the late 1970s – when the first Rape Crisis Centre opened in Glasgow – and then Edinburgh; accompanied by scoffing from the male establishment.  The recognition and influence which this movement has achieved is a tribute to generations of dedicated women; a true cause for celebration.


The previous item – about the establishment of a support network for women experiencing violence – is typical of third sector interventions, in that it could never have depended on loan finance.  Senscot has long argued, that the self-financing model on which Big Society Capital (BSC) was conceived – is irrelevant to all but a tiny minority of third sector organisations.  The English Charity Finance Group has added its voice to the growing insistence that BSC’s operating model needs to change.  This interview with BSC’s CEO suggests that it will sail on – servicing what he calls the ‘for profit social sector?’

‘The Glasgow Effect’ refers to the phenomenon that more people die prematurely in Glasgow than can be accounted for by poverty alone; for many years academics and practitioners have tried to understand why this should be. A report published this week by Glasgow Centre for Population and Health (and others) says that the Scottish Office implemented urban planning policies which it knew to be damaging to the long-term health of Glaswegians. Prof Tom Devine of Edinburgh University calls the conclusions ‘chilling’: “They reveal that to a considerable extent the key causes of the Glasgow Effect were in the realms of public policy.


On 6th June, the citizens of Switzerland will hold a referendum, on whether every citizen should receive a monthly state income, estimated at £1700; this would almost certainly mean a tax rise and the vote is not binding. Although it’s a long way off – the aspect of this utopian dream which most appeals to me is that it would release everyone to pursue their personal creative impulses. I quote E.F. Schumacher: “a job in which one finds no personal satisfaction destroys the soul”.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: West Lothian Social Enterprise Network, Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust, Abertay Students Association, Social Investment Scotland, Ullapool Community trust, Impact Business Leaders
EVENTS: "To Serve is to Resist", 21 May; 2 Million Voices: Listening, Learning and Leading Change, 23 May; In Focus: Trusts & Foundations, 26 May; Community landownership briefing session, 1 Jun;
TENDERS: First Minister’s Reading Challenge Website – Scottish Book Trust, Road Safety Scotland – Theatre in Education Programme – Transport Scotland, Museum Display Object Mounting Works – Fife Council, Sport & Leisure Provision – Stirling Council and more.  Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Diane Cameron left us last month to take a new post at Ardroy Outdoor Centre . We’re pleased to report that Diane’s been in touch and is enjoying her new role – even the sun has come out since she started!  We’ve now completed the recruitment process for her successor and to announce Alan Johnston as the new SE and Sport Co-ordinator – taking up post on 1st June. Alan currently works for Senscot as Partnership and Procurement Co-ordinator and will bring a wealth of experience in sport, business and public sector to his new role. Alan will be in touch with Sport SEN members and stakeholders in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can contact Alan at .


CRNS has announced this week the formation of a consortium that includes 18 of their member organisations with a view to putting together a tender to provide a Reuse Lot on the SXL framework that will seek to cover 24 local authority areas. The consortium has been supported by Alan Johnston – our Partnership and Procurement Co-ordinator – with CRNS operating as lead partner. This is a hugely significant development for the reuse sector at a number of levels and they are determined to make the most of this opportunity. We wish them well.


Bookings for Community Enterprise’s ‘Where Community Meets Enterprise’ event are going very well with only around 30 places still available (out of 120). The event – 24th June at Norton Park, Edinburgh – will look at the nature and scale of "community enterprise" within Scotland’s growing family of social enterprises. Many community-based enterprises retain their original focus of serving and re-investing profit in their own communities – with limited aspiration to grow outwith their core purpose and local area. This event will ‘celebrate’ the critical role they play in local communities. To join the ‘celebration’, see Booking Form


The third sector is distinct from the private (for profit) and the public (the state).  While our charity regulator (OSCR) is clear about the private sector boundary – when it comes to the status of the Council’s arms-length external organisations (ALEOs) – the whole thing becomes messy.  The latest ‘mess’ is called Jobs and Business Glasgow (JBG) – currently mired in a police investigation.  This piece in TFN news argues that ALEOs are not independent of Councils and should not be registered charities.


This week’s bulletin re-visits a social enterprise in Fife – first profiled in June 2007. The Ecology Centre, based at the Kinghorn Loch in Fife, uses nature and the environment as a tool to improve quality of life. It seeks to enable young people to experience and learn about the natural world, provide fulfilling volunteering opportunities for all ages and abilities and offer unemployed adults training opportunities. Originally set up in 1998, The Centre was finally able to buy 5 acres of land on behalf of the community in 2014 and, the following year, secured a BIG Lottery grant to build their own bespoke building. The new Centre is now up and running  – with a range of facilities – and they are now inviting social enterprises and businesses from across Scotland to make use of their  unique venue, The Nest, to host their event, either stage workshops, training days, conferences as well as social occasions.


Reading again E.F. Schumacher and struck by how ‘modern’ his wisdom is:


“Modern man does not experience himself as a part of nature but as an outside force destined to dominate and conquer it. He even talks of a battle with nature, forgetting that, if he won the battle, he would find himself on the losing side…… An attitude to life which seeks fulfilment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth – in short, materialism – does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited…… Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation to man, a peril to the peace of the world or to the well-being of future generations: as long as you have not shown it to be ‘uneconomic’ you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper.”  


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