Senscot Bulletin: 21.02.20

Midmorning, the Edinburgh/Glasgow train is quiet; at Falkirk, I’m joined by a smart woman in her 60s who introduces herself as Annette; as she talks I connect, that we were community workers together in the 1980s. Annette remembers me ‘as someone who believed passionately in what we were doing – that it really mattered’; with a sardonic smile, she enquires about the current state of my soul, thirty years later. I’ve always enjoyed such conversations – the fluctuations of hope and cynicism in the human soul/psyche. In Glasgow, we go for a coffee.

Later, I recall telling her, that my most consistent source of affirmation (bedtime reading) over thirty years, has been Raymond Chandler’s philosophical private eye, Philip Marlowe; I’m wondering again why Marlowe ‘steadies’ me. I enjoy that he’s a ‘loner’, with no interest in wealth – words like courage, integrity, honour; but his overwhelming appeal is that no-one will ever defeat him; invincible. Chandler once wrote: ‘In everything that can be called art, there is a quality of redemption’. Marlowe has this.

The Stockbridge district of Edinburgh has a couple of specialist charity bookshops; I visit their ‘antiquarian’ shelves, in search of ‘that’ book (an early edition of one of Chandler’s seven Marlowe novels – published between 1939-1958). Nae chance! The story of humankind’s struggle with the forces of darkness, has not changed throughout recorded story-telling – only in style, and Chandler ‘nailed’ that for me: “Down these mean streets must go a man who is not himself mean, tarnished or afraid…”. Yes, Annette – I think I still believe the whole shooting match


‘People with chaotic lifestyles, sharing drug-taking equipment’, have sparked another major HIV outbreak in Glasgow. Too easily we’ll lump this in with the city’s deaths from alcohol/drug abuse, homelessness, suicides etc – the ‘Glasgow Effect’. The late Alasdair Gray wrote in Lanark, ‘Let Glasgow flourish by telling the truth’: we must be honest about the problems in our midst – that Glasgow has so frequently been unable to provide the conditions that are good for health and flourishing. Why do so many of Glasgow’s population live so close to despair and death; the opposite of well-being. This is Prof. Tom Devine’s take; his intro to Carol Craig’s influential, ‘The Tears that made the Clyde’.


Welcome report from Scottish Govt called Social Capital in Scotland – examining the social connections within our communities which contribute to our support and well-being. This executive summary gives a feel of how Scotland’s doing. The Community Empowerment indications are the least impressive – that four out of five people feel a lack of influence over what happens in their community. Scottish Govt’s faltering empowerment strategy is a real worry.


This piece says that the Chinese built a 1000 bed hospital in 10 days; This, that they opened a 39km bridge in 2018 (equivalent of the mooted Irish crossing) linking Hong Kong to mainland China. They offered this week to build the English high-speed railway – quicker and cheaper. When I think about Scotland’s botched buildings and ferries etc – I realise how crap our public procurement is; simply not good enough. History proves that we can muster the workforce – the present crop of leaders is wanting.


The Artlyst website has an article by Clare Henry called ‘Glasgow School of Art: a burnt-out toxic culture’. It’s an alarming tale of how, even in our most respected institutions, things can unravel horribly – leaving the School in danger of takeover by Glasgow Uni. Crucial interviews this week for a ‘saviour’.


Raymond Chandler’s description of Philip Marlowe says much about the author and those of us who admire his creation; romantics.

“Marlowe is a lonely man, a poor man, a dangerous man, and yet a sympathetic man.  I think he will always have a fairly shabby office, a lonely house, a number of affairs, but no permanent connection… No one will ever beat him, because by his nature he is unbeatable.  No one will ever make him rich, because he is destined to be poor.  But somehow, I think he would not have it otherwise, and therefore the idea that he should be married, is quite out of character.  I see him always in a lonely street, in lonely rooms, puzzled but never quite defeated…”

Fife SEN was the first local social enterprise network (SEN) to be established in Scotland – back in 2004 – built very much on the back of the success of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, then based at BRAG Enterprises, near Lochgelly. The SEN has not always had an easy ride over the years – but ongoing support from BRAG has continued over the years – more recently via funding from Fife Council. However, in spite of having in place a national SE Strategy and Action Plan, a consistent approach to supporting local SENs across the country has remained elusive. Fife SEN has managed to remain active and regularly attracts 30-40 folk to their quarterly meetings. However, BRAG’s funding from Fife Council looks to be coming to an end next month.  Their next quarterly meeting is on Tuesday 25th February at the Ecology Centre in Kinghorn. Everyone’s hoping it won’t be their last.

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

Glasgow SEN this week announced that, GSEN Director, Elizabeth Docherty, is moving on after 8 years in post. Elizabeth will be a huge loss to GSEN, its members – as well as the wider SE community across Scotland. It’s hard to sum up what Elizabeth has achieved during her time with GSEN – but this letter to members from GSEN chair, Mark McRitchie captures very well her contribution – both professionally and personally. Everyone at Senscot passes on their very best wishes to Elizabeth on her next adventure.


On the topic of the ‘Social Capital in Scotland’ Report (see above), four SENS participated in a pilot last year – to demonstrate their social capital/impact –  using Assist Social Capital’s Unlocking Potential (U<P) model. See Key Findings and Full Report. Assist Social Capital is now offering a 20% discount on using the  U<P model to first three SEN members to get in touch. At £1000 for the licence alone – with additional days dependent on individual orgs capacity etc – it may be a bit prohibitive for some. However, with increasing pressure to be able to demonstrate social impact etc, it may very well be the perfect tool for many others.


P4P publishes its latest ‘guest blog’ this week – by May Millward from Scottish Mediation. May discusses how mediation can benefit partner organisations to resolve disputes and help build positive relationships for the future. Scottish Mediation is the professional body for mediators in Scotland and aims to promote a wider understanding of the appropriate use of mediation in conflict management and prevention. See May’s Blog.


Frontline News: ApparelXchange is hosting Scotland’s first sustainable fashion networking event at their  store in the St. Enoch Centre, Glasgow –  on Friday 28th February (4-7pm). See full details and to sign up:

The Wise Group is planning to move from its Charlotte St HQ in Glasgow – saying ‘they could and should be in our communities, where need and impact is greatest’. CEO Sean Duffy writes about their new horizon:

Senscot – under the P4P banner– has been selected for the North Ayrshire Council (NAC) Business Support Consultancy Framework. This is part of NAC’s Community Wealth Building approach. See more details:

The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) is now recruiting for its new Start-Up Plus Programme. Closing date – midday on Wednesday 18th March 2020. More news on SSE’s Trade Up Programme soon.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new community hub in Edinburgh that has emerged out of the former Broomhouse Centre (previously profiled in March 2010). The Broomhouse Hub – known as Space – has been developed to accommodate a range of community initiatives and now provides a purpose-built, flexible space assisting the hub to more fully meet the needs of the local community, its members, employees, volunteers and partners. Based in south west Edinburgh – Space’s services include a Café (plus outside catering), Youth Services, including Young Carers and Youth Befriending, a Dementia Service (The Beacon Club), Adult Carers & Vintage Vibes in partnership with LifeCare.