Senscot Bulletin: 20.11.15

Dear members and friends,
I don’t much remember dreams – but a recent fragment stays with me: I’m about 6 years old – in the bedroom of my mum’s mum – my Glasgow Nonna. The room has a large walk-in cupboard – where the family keep the cigarettes and confectionary for their chip shops. The rich aroma of tobacco and chocolate – dominated by Fry’s chocolate cream; in the dream I realise that this aroma has always evoked for me feelings of love and safety. I am reminded of a piece by Alan Bennett about the particular smell of his grandmother’s dresser. Must find it.


            Bennett, a working class Yorkshire lad, got to Oxford on a bursary – then a first in history. He likes to present himself as hapless – but don’t be fooled by the shy cosiness – the mournful voice; even aged 81, he’s sharp and radical. Bennett is easy for me to like; despises Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair; a fan of Philp Larkin; he refused a knighthood – and sustains a simmering anger at the British establishment. But it’s as a writer that Bennett touches my life – and although a gifted and prolific intellect – it’s his eye and ear for the minutiae of ordinary life that I admire.


            One of the joys of reading – is to come across a thought which we believed was particular to ourself – the sudden feeling of connection. This is Alan Bennett’s gift – to identify incidents from mundane, everyday life – which affirm our shared humaness; like the fond remembered events (and aromas) of childhood.


In 2001, when the Twin Towers came down, had the USA been able to exercise restraint, they had the opportunity to lead the world to peace. Instead, Bush and Blair launched their disastrous crusade to ‘subdue’ Islam – and ignited a holy war against our western way of life; the horrors of Paris demonstrate again the cycle of violence at work in the present world. The terrorists of Islamic state want us in the west to come to hate Muslims – to close our borders to them – to escalate warfare; the most important thing is that they don’t get their way. As Lesley Riddoch writes: “We cannot hide away – we can only choose to break the cycle of violence or fuel it”. Media images of some of Syria’s most vulnerable refugees being welcomed in Glasgow this week made me smile; who would you nominate for this task before Glaswegians?


Architect Malcolm Fraser’s practice was one of the most prestigious in Scotland for 22 years – but, in August, it went into liquidation. Fraser has written an impressive, but deeply saddening, article (short) for Rattle magazine – criticising the dysfunctional procurement climate for his profession; but most of all he regrets that our country has lost touch with the joy in the craft of making things: “The primary business of modern Britain is the slew of financing and financial instruments, deals and legal structures, asset trading and bundling, marketing and spin doctoring that underpins our neo-liberal economy”. This is worth a read.


A very strong rumour circulates (intentional leak?) that the comprehensive spending review on 25th November will announce a cut of £320m in the amount of money the BIG Lottery is able to distribute to charities and community groups. Apparently, this amount will be diverted to compensate for Govt cuts to culture and sports organisations. In Scotland, such a cut would mean a reduction from £70m to £40m in funds available for frontline voluntary services like pensioners’ clubs, girl guides etc – which would amount to nothing less than a crisis in our sector.


“What does it mean to have a ‘free’ media when the nation’s TV channels, news outlets, radio stations, search engines and social media platforms are owned by a handful; of giant corporations”.  A big new report from the Media Reform Coalition unpicks ‘Who owns the UK Media’: Rattle, the source of the Malcolm Fraser article above, is typical of many brave attempts to create alternative media platforms in Scotland. My sense is that the survival of our democracy is at stake.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust, Tailor Ed Foundation, Glasgow Bike Station, Edinburgh Steiner, The Wise Group, Community Land Scotland, Kirkconnel and Kelloholm Dev Trust
EVENTS: Social enterprise: another route to start up, 24 Nov; Bride and Prejudice, 26 Nov; Tips for Girls – Women Only, 27 Nov; Story Café – Crime Fiction Special, 3 Dec; "Aladdin", 20 Dec;
TENDERS: Community Connecting – The City of Edinburgh Council, Contract for the Provision of a Sign Language Interpreting, Translation and Guide Support Service – NHS Forth Valley, “Positive Futures” Research & Evaluation project (2015-2018) – Venture Trust and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Early in October, Senscot commissioned Social Value Lab to do some research on the work of the thematic SENs. With the recent growth in membership and the increasing range of policy developments taking place, we have been keen to get a better idea on how to maximise the support/benefit to SEN members with the resources we have available. As well as this piece of work – due for completion soon – we will also be taking into consideration feedback from last week’s SE Conference and Ceilidh; the ongoing dialogue re the SE Vision document; findings from the SE Census; and, we hope, discussions with other intermediary bodies in terms of how social enterprise can best be supported. This is particularly relevant with the emergence of a new Govt Strategy in spring 2016 – in a climate that many observers are predicting will see a reduction of resources across our sector.


Yesterday’s SCRT Conference – Social Finance; Social Investment; Social Banking: What makes them Social? – saw around 100 folk gather to hear contributions from around the globe on social finance. The Conference was opened by John Swinney – encouraging our sector to ‘proceed until apprehended’- followed by an impressive list of further speakers. The afternoon session concluded with CEO, Rod Ashley ‘re-introducing’ Airdrie Savings Bank (ASB). He cited their founding mission statements (1835) that ASB would be a ‘safe home for your money to promote the care and welfare of society’ and ‘funds raised locally should always be available for local use’ and that these principles will act as the cornerstone as ASB seeks to become the ‘bank of our sector and for our sector’.


Iain MacWhirter, who is more knowledgeable than myself about international affairs – wrote an extraordinary piece in the Sunday Herald attacking the European Union – questioning the Scottish consensus to stay in. His main objection is the democratic deficit – that the EU is run by unelected bureaucrats. He says that the Greek crisis also demonstrated a domination by German central bankers – who put debt repayment before human need. Whilst these objections have some validity – for me, they are overwhelmingly outweighed by the benefits of being part of a single market of 500 million people; and the freedom to roam in sunlit countries.


Never been much interested in political party infighting – but Alex Bell wants SNP to do a bit more of it and his piece has caused a stir. Lallands Peat Worrior (also SNP) thinks his piece lacks ‘emotional intelligence’; handbags at 10 paces.


Last week’s bulletin featured a profile on  – a national car club that operates as a social enterprise. Co-wheels have been in touch wishing to roll out an offer to Senscot members who might wish access to their local Co-wheels Car Club.  The offer is Free Membership (normally a one off £25) plus £10 of start-up driving credit. To take advantage of this, members need to complete an application on line at their website, and insert the code Senscot1 in the promo code box.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise, based in Dumfries and Galloway, which aims to create unique community based cinema experience centred around enjoying old favourites or a more recent blockbusters. Driftwood Cinema takes its mobile cinema experience to a multitude of rural venues across Scotland; community halls, schools, commercial spaces and the great outdoors. In addition, Driftwood runs workshops that help people to record the social events and everyday life, using their smart phones or video cameras, editing them and then showing them on the big screen ahead of the main feature; building up a social archive of life and living in these areas. Driftwood has been supported during its development stage by the School of Social Entrepreneurs.


‘Burnout’, the spiritual exhaustion of frontline ‘people’ workers – has held a career long interest for me – both for myself and colleagues. Parker Palmer here expresses the theory that burnout occurs when we give something we don’t possess – violating our own nature in the name of nobility.


"When the gift I give to the other is integral to my own nature, when it comes from a place of organic reality within me, it will renew itself – and me – even as I give it away. Only when I give something that does not grow within me do I deplete myself and harm the other as well, for only harm can come from a gift that is forced, inorganic, unreal."


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,