Senscot Bulletin 22.05.15

Dear members and friends,


            Been here a week now in glorious weather for May – lots of reading and walking – eating in great restaurants.  This is a specially pampered part of the costa – designed for the wealthy – it’s easy to pretend that there is no austerity – but there is of course.
I was originally attracted to Andalucia by the golf courses and the climate; the club which became our’ ‘gang hut’ opened in 1975 – when a membership cost £1000; the same membership now costs 36,000 euros.  This is the original clubhouse, but over the years, the entire complex has seen major upgrades – to international standards.  The slightly ‘slippery’ crowd of my era, has been replaced by more substantial money; I’m writing this on the restaurant terrace – observing the ‘smart set’ – with the self-satisfied air of someone who preceded all this.  Woman at the next table is talking about a priest who is ‘doing the rounds’ – organising emergency food and medicines for the poor; says this club has a group making monthly contributions.   Even with the economy in dire straits – ‘top end’ facilities like this continue to prosper and improve.
Before leaving, I stroll round the golf shop – polo shirts at 100 euros.  The assistant smiles and says it’s good to see me – a familiar face from long ago; it must be 10 years since we met – says she’s been here 34 years.  I enjoy her recognition – an affirmation of someone I once was.  Shakespeare: “and one man in his time plays many parts”.


The Scottish Govt (since 2007) has prided itself on its openness and accessibility and its commitment to community participation and civic engagement. However, Holyrood’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee questioned the ability of the Govt’s flagship Community Empowerment Bill to deliver on its promises without a change of mind-set amongst public authorities. In short, they would have to be ‘more open to communities themselves setting the agenda, coupled with support to communities to help them access these new powers’. In response, our Govt has come up with an innovative proposal – working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – to deliver the U Lab programme across Scotland. We are being invited to participate in a programme that Govt hopes will help transform the relationship between communities, public authorities and businesses across Scotland.  The U Lab programme will run in Sept/Oct 2015 – at no cost. It will be interesting to see if this bold move by Govt captures people’s imagination.


Senscot adheres to the ‘Scottish model’ – that a social enterprise is an asset locked entity – evolved from the values and culture of our third sector.  Versions of SE which reach London from USA colonisers, like Skoll, Schwab, Ashoka etc. – come out of a different culture – where SE is as likely to operate for private profit – as not.  This piece from the USA offers a glimpse of both left and right wing perspectives – and warns of the consequences of SE being captured by a reactionary political agenda.  This longer essay, from the Stanford social innovation review, argues that in a growing number of countries – the private sector is becoming over dominant – that society now needs a more effective and influential third sector, to bring balance.


The blunder made by Argyll and Bute Council – in blocking the community organisation of the Castle Toward Estate – continues to escalate.  The ‘people’s council’ group – will host a meeting in Oban on June 6th – address the issue of Scotland’s oversized, remote, high handed councils.  The mountain village I visit in Spain holds its council elections on Sunday – it has 261 voters.  I won’t pretend that aspects of localism aren’t open to abuse – but Scotland’s council areas are the largest and most remote in Europe; there is a missing tier of local democracy.
Another example of citizens refusing to accept the dictats of a ‘distant’ council has been well researched by Kevin McKenna in the Observer.  The parents and citizens of Milngavie don’t accept the reasons given for the closure of St Joseph’s primary school – they seek to remove it from the council and run it themselves.  Quite common in England, this funding model is new up here – and it will be interesting to see how the Scottish Govt. responds to this precedent.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: Community Enterprise, West Lothian Drug & Alcohol Service, Raploch Community Partnership, East Kilbride & District Shopmobility, Sports Leaders UK, WHALE Arts, Remade in Edinburgh, Senscot
EVENTS: Launch of Enterprising Third Sector Support in West Lothian, 28 May; Arts & Communication training 1&2, 29 May; Wild Food Forage, 7 Jun; B Corp for Lunch Edinburgh, 9 Jun;
TENDERS: European Structural Funds Glasgow City Employability Pipeline – Glasgow City Council and Counselling Services to Reduce Alcohol and Drug Misuse – The City of Edinburgh Council, Dementia Awareness and Support – Scottish Borders Council and more.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: The SE Vision 2025 Steering Group met this week to consider feedback from a series of consultations that have taken place over the last couple of months. These meeting have included SEN members; Housing Associations; VAS; Scottish Enterprise; Scottish Govt Third Sector Division; and others. General consensus has overwhelmingly welcomed the document and – although there are areas that could be given either greater emphasis or clarity – it provides a good basis from which to identify the priorities for our sector over the next five/ten years. Further work (and discussions) will continue over the summer months – with SEs; public authorities; and others – as a new SE strategy for Scotland begins to take shape.


Reminder: The Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015 is still ongoing – nearly 1000 SEs having already participated in the online survey (see link above). If you get the chance to fill it in – it takes around 15/20 minutes to complete – your participation would be very much appreciated. See more background


The number of Credit Unions in Scotland continues to go. There are currently 110 – Glasgow being our CU Capital with over 30. Credit Unions offer an appealing package – they are local, democratic, offer low-interest loans, no hidden charges. Although they may differ in size, this ‘offer’ is basically the same. While the banks have to maximise profit, credit unions focus on service. Recently, the Church of Scotland launched its own credit union as a “fairer” alternative to banks and payday lenders – with a potential membership of 60,000 people. Here’s a story in the National focusing on the development of credit unions.


With such overwhelming popular support – there is a danger that the SNP will become complacent; next year’s Holyrood elections need to produce effective opposition.  On the right of the SNP, Ruth Davidson is well in command of here brief – but the left is less coherent.  Labour doesn’t know what it’s for – which leaves the Greens and some impressive citizen platforms: Bella Caledonia, Commonweal, RIC etc.  Scotland needs a Jimmy Reid-type character – it’s in our psyche – to stir things up.


Scottish Govt intends to introduce its Land Reform Bill before the summer recess. This week, Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, told the Scottish Land and Estates conference in Edinburgh that the Govt wanted to see much more land brought into community ownership and that, following their recent consultation, there was clearly strong public support for land reform – with 70% of respondents (out of 1100) supporting the Govt’s proposals.


This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow-based social enterprise set up by two friends that ‘re-imagine’ retro and vintage pieces of furniture to sell in their shop. Treemendus not only revamps old pieces of furniture but also runs workshops for young people giving them both the skills to upcycle furniture –  including painting techniques; ageing and distressing techniques; and how to wax your furniture to seal the colour in – and also the skills to run an retail outlet. They then have the opportunity to stay on with Treemendus or use their new-found experience to secure other employment. Treemendus has been one of the participants in Firstport’s ‘Beyond the Finish Line’ initiative.


The Sun – by Mary Oliver – the American poet, described by The New York Times as "far and away, [America’s] best-selling poet"


"Have you seen anything in your life more wonderful that the way the sun, every evening relaxed and easy floats towards the horizon and into the clouds or the hills, or the rumpled sea, and is gone – and how it slides again out of the blackness, every morning on the other side of the world, like a red flower streaming upward on its heavenly oils, say, on a morning in early summer, at its perfect imperial distance – and have you ever felt for anything such wild love – do you think there is anywhere, in any language, a word billowing enough for the pleasure that fills you, as the sun reaches out, as it warms you as stand there, empty-handed – or have you too turned from this world – or have you too gone crazy for power, for things?"



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