Senscot Bulletin: 21.09.18

Dear members and friends,

Full credit to Tory Leader, Ruth Davidson, for sharing her experience of mental illness; how, like any illness, it teaches us about ourselves – to help make adjustments – plan our lives.

I’ve recounted before in this column, that in May 1984, I found myself on the floor of my front room sobbing uncontrollably; feeling waves of the ‘terror of annihilation’ against which I had no defence; thought I was going mad. During the crisis weeks, I attended Edinburgh’s Andrew Duncan clinic – then weekly appointments with a psychotherapist – for three years. Her ‘attention’ and skill, helped me understand that I was back with feelings experienced in childhood – which could only be disarmed by re-visiting them. This was scary of course, but with her help, I got a sense of the amount of ‘dark stuff’ I routinely banished to my unconscious – started unraveling it.

Reflecting on my earlier life, I have the sense that only a part of me was living it; the crisis of mental illness introduced me to my ‘wounds’ – in as much as I have ‘accepted’ them, it feels like there is more of me ‘consciously present’; I’m grateful to my illness for bringing me closer to the inner peace of surrendering to the ‘now’. Someone wrote: ‘Life is only comprehensible through a thousand local gods’ – watching a child’s solitary play – sitting under a favourite tree – the coping stones on an ancient wall – the smile of Lisa, who waits tables in my local chippie…Worship all you can see – and more will appear”.



Instead of interminable Brexit, I wish there was more political debate about these trillion-dollar corporations with phenomenal computing power. Gripping essay by Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens) in last Saturday’s Guardian Weekend Review. His central point is that – through data collection, artificial intelligence and bio-engineering – corporations and governments will soon know us better than we know ourselves; will be able to ‘hack’ human beings – predict and also ‘re-engineer’ our choices. He sketches some scary implications for liberal democracy. Harari’s piece correctly predicts that people like myself – who believe that the human spirit goes far beyond genes, neurons and algorithms – will simply dismiss this challenge; but, in truth, he’ s got me at least thinking about it – and it should certainly be a priority for our politicians.



Senscot sits in Scotland’s third sector; I don’t know the percentage, but a significant number of colleagues are from church/faith-based organisations; in these times of disparagement, their contribution is often undervalued.  It is totally appropriate that Archbishop Welby – primate of the Church of England – wants to put ‘crooks’ like Wonga out of business – because they extort from the poor.  A decision by his trustees to purchase the Wonga loan book would bring direct engagement with the chaos, pain and despair of 200 thousand poor people.  In its symbolism, of where the church wants to position itself – this decision has major implications.



All across Scotland – right now, today – thousands of locally-owned organisations are working for the betterment of their communities; what we refer to as the community sector; 90% of this activity is ignored by the national media – not considered important.  A rare exception to this is Lesley Riddoch – who is not only a gifted broadcaster/journalist – but has, for many years, reported (and campaigned for) local empowerment.  This is a piece she did for the National, about the tiny community of Strontian on the Ardnamurchan peninsula – which has just set about building its own new Primary school; I find ordinary folk who ‘just get on with it’ inspirational.



JK Rowling doesn’t make a secret of her experience of mental illness; I have direct knowledge that her Foundation supports child mental health charities.


“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced… It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different…that hollowed-out, cold absence of feeling… I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What’s to be ashamed of? I went through a really rough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that.”


As part of its ‘Programme for Government’, Scottish Govt has committed to developing a Cultural Strategy for Scotland – that will ‘commit to long term change through collaboration and integration across culture, communities and policy development to ensure that culture’s empowering and transformative power can be experienced by everyone’. Senscot and Cultural SEN members are contributing to the consultation – submitting the following response. Over 40 Cultural SEN members participated in a recent survey – with the final Strategy document due for publication by the end of the year. Our joint response welcomes the Strategy (and its supporting Action Plan) – with its potential to reach into communities across Scotland and the social and economic impact it could have – not just on the cultural life of a community – but on the health and wellbeing and education of both young and old. Its success, like other Govt Strategies, will be measured on its ability to reach as many of these local communities as possible – not catering just for the sector’s elite.

Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding

As readers will be aware, Glasgow has now launched its own SE Strategy – a partnership between Glasgow City Council and Glasgow SEN. The Strategy will be overseen by a Board of 15 – representing different stakeholders. 4 of these places are allocated to Glasgow-based social enterprises (trade reps) – who meet the SE Code of Practice criteria. The closing date for applications is Sunday, 26th September. If you like to put your name forward and play an important role in developing the SE sector in the city – see application form.



Scottish Community Finance Ltd, the financial arm of SCRT, is now inviting applications to its new SEN Bridging Loan Fund. The Loan Fund is open to SEN members specifically looking for short-term bridging finance. An average loan is expected to be around £5k – and, all being well, applications can be turned round within 5 working days. See full application form – or, for more info, contact

SCRT itself has evolved over the years and in the run up to its AGM in November has provided members with the following update.



Date for your Diary: Another big day coming up in Dundee – following the opening of the new V&A. The city is hosting the inaugural Tayside and Fife Social Enterprise Conference – bringing together four separate local authorities along with Dundee SEN and PKAVS. The focus of the event is Inclusive Growth – they hope to welcome 150 delegates to the Apex Hotel on 24th October 2018. Tickets for SEs are £30.



The Community Capacity Resilience Fund (Round 4) is now accepting applications. The Fund offers between £1k-5k to eligible third sector orgs to deliver projects/activities that support individuals and communities to mitigate the impact of welfare reform and poverty. Closing date – 26th Oct – see full details.



This week’s bulletin profiles a property services company based in Glasgow that operates as a social enterprise. Building Futures specialises in property renovation; painting and decorating; home improvement; and end of tenancy/void services. One of Building Futures’ specific aims is to prepare women for careers in the construction industry – where they have been traditionally under-represented. Over the past year, they have created more than 20 training and workplace opportunities for socially excluded individuals – and are looking to increase this to at least 100 by the end of 2019. As a social enterprise, all profits are re-invested to provide free training and paid work placements for women to gain skills and obtain a wide range of employment within the construction industry.