Senscot Bulletin: 22.01.16

Dear members and friends,

            Four fewer Xmas cards this year – only absent one that bothers is my cousin Freddo’s – known him all my life – he never misses.  In the late 1950’s we were best mates; Scotland had an ‘Italian community’ then – we jumped about together – dances, parties, coffee bars – ‘bella figura’ (fancied ourselves).  His annual card links in my mind to my Italian origins; this feels important.
            An exhibition is running at Register House in Edinburgh called ‘the Scots Italians 1890 – 1940’; it seems that in 1933, when Mussolini was riding high, he initiated a census of Italian migrants around the world.  The Scottish ‘censimento’ (1400 families counting around 6000 people) has been carefully preserved and affords a unique snapshot of my birth community.  I find it moving that the families of both my mother and father are featured prominently – like ‘who do you think you are?’ on TV.  80 years later, there are an estimated 50 thousand descendants of this census integrated into every aspect of Scottish society.  My dad considered himself a Scots Italian – but those of us born here feel mostly Scottish: this is no disrespect to the courage of the generations who made the move; I’m very proud to be an Italian Scot.
            The day after I take down my Xmas cards – a neighbour chaps the door to apologise; hands me an envelope delivered to him in error – then forgotten.  It’s Freddo’s card – the pleasure it brings is special; it sits alone on the mantle – smiling at me.


It is entirely reasonable if the SNP considers the goal of independence to be its overarching mission – but for many of us the ongoing shaping of Scottish society is equally important.  The way land ownership is legislated – to favour ‘the people’ or an elite – affords a glimpse of ‘the soul’ of a political party.  At Wednesday’s stage 2 debate on the Land Reform Bill, the SNP supported amendments which bring real hope of openness over who owns Scotland.  As originally drafted, the bill drew howls of disappointment; Lesley Riddoch thinks that the strength of public feeling caused the govt. to think again. Patrick Harvie urges a further ban on tax haven registration.


Each year, Senscot invites financial donations from readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin.  Traditionally, around 100 individuals give an average of £25 to become full company members. Senscot’s board is elected by and is accountable to these members. We also invite donations from individuals or organisations who simply want to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or to donate, see members page .


Ahead of the World Economic Forum at Davos – Oxfam published a report last week warning about runaway global inequality; the richest 1% now own more than the rest of us combined; a tiny 62 people own as much as the poorest half of the world’s population. The speed at which the inequality gap widens, makes inevitable economic and political instability and Oxfam calls for an urgent three pronged approach: Crack down on tax dodging; increase investment in public services; boost the income of the lowest paid. It’s three years since David Cameron told Davos he would lead a global campaign against tax avoidance – it’s time for him to deliver.


The story we linked to last week about the elite PR ‘jolly’ graced by our First Minister – came to light a year after the event, through a FOI request; mostly it was down to the investigative journalism of The Ferret (see profile). As a supporter of independence, and an admirer of Nicola Sturgeon, I was greatly disappointed by the realisation that we still have a political culture which supports the purchase of power and privilege; I thought we had moved on from Westminster’s poisonous lobbying industry. This piece by James McEnaney in Bella Caledonia captures my view.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Re-Union Canal Boats Ltd, StepUp Shoeshine CIC, Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Barony Housing Association, The Larder Cookery School, Amos Scripture Care Trust,
EVENTS: Intro to Web Design, 25 Jan; Market Research Techniques, 27 Jan; Unincorporated associations – Risks and solutions, 28 Jan; Tendering for Practitioners, 2 Feb; Charitable Trading Seminar, 3 Feb;
TENDERS: Queen’s Park Govanhill Parish Church – Trinity Building Feasibility Study, Employer’s Equality Action Fund – Skills Development Scotland, Employability Skills Pipeline Service – South Ayrshire Council & more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Over the coming months, Scottish Govt will be preparing a new strategy for supporting social enterprise and the third sector at both a local and national level. This strategy will be informed by the findings of the SE Vision 2025 document – and also by the impending evaluation of the work of Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs). Key to the SE Vision is the acknowledgement of the existing and future roles of local SENs in providing SEs with peer support, mentoring, collective representation and strategic engagement at a local level. Over the years, the SENs have encountered a number of challenges but, today, there are 17 operational local SENs – in both rural and urban areas – providing this critical support and representation to over 900 locally-based social enterprises. Local SENs will be looking to build on progress made over the last decade – and playing an increasing role in supporting local economies, local decision-making, and local services delivered by local providers – ‘building a new economy’.


Senscot will be holding its 16th AGM on Friday 4th March at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh (10.30 – 1.30pm). Prior to the AGM, we will be hosting a discussion session looking at “the implications – challenges, opportunities and risks – for social enterprise and the third sector in playing an increasing role in public service delivery”. Our keynote speaker on the day will be Barry Knight from Centris – the Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Policy Ltd. Barry has, in the past, worked as an advisor to UK Govts on economic development and the third sector. To book your place – see Booking Form


Social Value Lab (SVL) published its ‘Better Business, Better Scotland’ Report – the first of its kind in Scotland – a survey of 1000 businesses across Scotland. SVL Director, Jonathan Coburn says: “The face of business in Scotland is changing and the notion that business is simply about making money no longer holds true. There is an emerging generation of business leaders whose personal values are reflected in how they do business – and a public that is more ethically motivated and less tolerant of corporate negligence and/or corrupt practices.” Couple of headlines: 52% see a clear business case for investing in community, social and environmental issues; 29% felt the sole responsibilities of companies was to maximize profit; 89% felt they were delivering on their social and environmental responsibilities; and, only 4% of CEOs are women.


The Scottish Govt has rightly earned plaudits for its efforts to open up procurement opportunities to our sector. The same cannot, however, be said for its approach to some large scale procurement processes that effect households and communities across Scotland – i.e. Scottish Water ; Calmac/Serco. With the forthcoming implementation of the latest EU Public Procurement Directives, Scottish Govt is now in a position to exclude certain companies – i.e. those not meeting their tax obligations; or those breaching environmental, social and labour laws – from winning public contracts. This letter from Action On Procurement to Cabinet Secretary, Keith Brown (Infrastructure, Investment and Cities) is urging the Govt to take responsibility for these decisions – as opposed to leaving it to the discretion of individual public bodies. Further article in today’s Herald.


This week’s bulletin profiles The Ferret – an online investigative journalism for Scotland and beyond. The Ferret is a registered co-operative and has places reserved for both journalists and subscribers on the board.
Its aim is to build a community of like-minded people who want to run their own national or local investigations; campaign groups with specific areas they’d like to investigate; citizens who care about the future of Scotland, Britain and the wider world. They aim to do this through offering supporters news, resources, training and events. The Ferret is a subscriber to the SE Code of Practice.


I find Margaret Wheatley’s writing helpful – particularly her insight that we should try to distance ourselves from expectations of ‘successful outcomes’ – from ‘absurd heroism’. This quote and extract are from her latest book: ‘So Far from Home’.


“Let us walk away from that ‘absurd heroism’ and focus instead on people in front of us, our colleagues, communities and families. Let us work together to embody the values that we treasure, and not worry about creating successful models that will transform other people. Let us focus on transforming ourselves to be little islands of good caring people, doing right work, assisting where we can, maintaining peace and sanity, people who have learned how to be gentle, decent and brave ….even as the dark ocean that has emerged continues to storm around us”.



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