Senscot Bulletin: 20.12.19

Dear members and friends,

Reading plenty stuff about the election – but my head refuses to ‘go there’ – too painful; I’ll ‘sidle-up’ to it during the break.  UK governance just got significantly harsher – especially for the poor and vulnerable; in January we need to assess, not only how harmful, but how ‘dangerous’ this man might be for our democracy and basic human rights; then we’ll need to roll up our sleeves.   Some years ago, I adopted a maxim: ‘then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore’; I still hold to it, but when you’re up against people who occupy a dog-eat-dog universe – its challenging.  Corbyn and McDonnell refused to play dirty – got obliterated.  But, in the long term, its only worth the struggle if we create something tangibly better.  Let’s pause.

This Sunday, 22nd December; is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere; our planet’s axis determines that at 4.19am, the sun will reach its most southern point in the sky; Rejoice!  Sunday is the turning-point from which daylight starts to build again.  For reasons I don’t understand, this annual event ‘lifts’ me more than most people: the tired ‘spent’ year yielding place to a new one; the restoration of light/life; primordial symbolisms, deep in the human psyche make this a natural festival; a time to pause and chill-out with friends/family.  I’m already switched-off; rather than national politics, I’m debating whither Lego’s ‘toy story’ kit, will be too advanced for a 3½ year old.  Senscot will be back on Jan 6th – all guns blazing.


When/if the momentum for independence builds to 60%, then it will happen, and there’s nothing Westminster can do about it – they know that; if momentum stalls, it won’t happen; the decision is with the Scottish people – always was. The new ‘English’ Govt could hardly be better designed to show the widening gap between the direction of travel in our two countries. I feel no separation from English people – no moral high ground – they’re the same as us; but I feel a deep repugnance for the divisive cruelty of the Conservatism which will continue in the UK. The Scotsman’s Dani Garavelli writes with feeling.


I find myself increasingly impressed with the political commentary of the Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole. On Tuesday he wrote: “The UK is now a very fragile construct. That has been placed in the hands of a man with the delicate touch of a chicken strangler”. The pillars of stability have cracked.


While the BBC often makes errors, particularly with regard to Scotland (too London-biased), it is a publicly-owned national institution – which enjoys widespread regard and trust. If the Tory Party really intends a war on the BBC, Channel 4, media scrutiny in general – it will trigger major resistance.


Other rumours, around what Govt plans to do with its shiny new majority, relate to a radical shake-up of the civil service. This anonymous comment from someone in a Whitehall department makes three predictions – which I think are too optimistic; old scores will now be settled.


So called ‘impact investment’ boasts that you can do good – and also make pots of money in the process; but this Financial Times article refutes this. It shows how the pursuit of market returns actually defeats the whole purpose. Unless social value is ‘in exchange’ for profit – it would have happened anyway. Impact investments that really make a difference – involve investors accepting sub-market returns. Of course, Anand Giridharadas tippled to all this a while ago


This poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, was important to my realisation that ‘It is only kindness that makes sense anymore’.

‘Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.  You must wake up with sorrow.  You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.  Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say, ‘It is I you have been looking for’, and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend’. See full poem.

Best wishes for the festive period,

The last SEN Weekly Review of this year picks out some highlights from 2019. We kick off with our Report from the recent Community Wealth Building Conference which attracted over 140 delegates attend. Recent months have included a series of local gatherings across Scotland – identifying the Key Themes from frontline SEs to help shape and inform the next SE Action Plan. 2019 has also seen the emergence of new SENs in North Lanarkshire; Highlands; Arran and Angus. Over 900 SEs are now members or engaged with local SENs. However, work still remains to be done to achieve a consistent funding model that will genuinely ‘extend and strengthen’ local SENs across Scotland. Other highlights include: an Impact Evaluation of SENs; Senscot Briefings – on Community Cafés and SE and  Heritage; a new Pockets and Prospects Programme for 2019 – also see 2018 Report; new SE Action Plans in Glasgow and Angus; Community Enterprise’s Map of our SE eco-system; and, of course, the SE Census 2019;Closer to home, P4P has continued to produce a series of blogs – as well as this Impact Report. Around 120 social enterprises and third sector orgs have benefitted from the services of Senscot Legal – see their series of blogs. 2020 will be another important year for SENs and their members with the new SE Action Plan due out in April – including the outcome of the current SE Review and how it will impact on frontline social enterprises.

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

This week has seen the launch of another SE Academy Hub – this time in Wales – taking the number of SE Academy Hubs to over a dozen across the globe – from Australia, China and Pakistan to Zambia, Rwanda and Canada. The new Welsh SE Academy will be operated by Creating Enterprise, a subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy Housing Association, and will work in partnership with the Wales Co-operative Centre delivering programmes across South Wales.


The number of assets in Scotland coming under community ownership continues to grow – according to new statistics recently released by Scottish Govt. As of December 2018, 593 assets (land or buildings) were now owned by 429 community groups – with 37 assets coming into community ownership during 2018 itself – seeing an increase of seven per cent on 2017. See further details.


This week sees P4P’s final blog of 2019 – where Neil Young discusses his recent study visit to Daegu, South Korea. Neil attended the 1st Daegu x Glasgow Social Economy International Forum alongside Duncan Thorp (SES) and Gary Meek (Glasgow Council on Alcohol). Read Neil’s account of his visit.


Frontline News: December Sport SEN Newsletter out this week – covering Scottish Govt’s consultation on Youth Justice; Cricket tackling social inclusion; and Projekt42’s plans for a community sports hub in Leith:

Communities Leading in Tourism Programme – deadline for applications now extended to Monday 6th Jan:

Glasgow City Council’s Co-operative and Social Enterprise Fund is now open to co-ops and social enterprises in the city. The Fund offering awards up to £15k has a closing date of 31st January 2020:

WLSEN has produced this interesting infographic – showing the reach and contribution of their members.


This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow-based organisation, set up in 1998, to address the under-representation of black and minority ethnic communities working in housing and other professions in Scotland. PATH (Scotland) has been providing high quality training and opportunities which are tailored to the needs of individuals – and enabling participants, when experience is gained, to compete effectively for employment within housing and other professions. PATH’s core activities include three-year traineeships in collaboration with Registered Social Landlords or Local Authority Housing Departments – as well its popular Leadership Programme. In spite of some challenges with funding, PATH continues to provide an increasingly important service both to our BME community as well as to employers throughout Scotland

Best wishes and hope everyone enjoys the festive break,