Senscot Bulletin: 22.06.18

Dear members and friends,


According to this Sunday Times article, Stephen Noon, one-time special advisor to First Minister, Alex Salmond, is training to become a Jesuit priest. Having chosen a life of poverty, chastity and obedience – he says he struggles a bit with poverty; a future without money or possessions or status or independence: a rare calling. In Camphill villages, people with learning difficulties and special needs, are fully integrated into community life – no division between carers and cared for. BBC 2’s recent programme from Newton Dee, near Aberdeen – gave a moving insight into how demanding/rewarding this really is; providing care, through shared living, must be as good as it gets – anywhere in the world – but again, these are rare people.

More normally, Scotland has many thousands of voluntary charities, social enterprises, community projects etc – which every day, quietly attend to the needs of vulnerable citizens. The mainstream economy would likely regard many of these operations as ‘financial basket cases’ – but this means nothing; much third sector activity is perfectly comfortable being financially ‘off the grid’. By its own account, Scottish Govt supports the third sector because of our contribution to the country’s economy; but surely this is a failure to understand what we do – or recognise how society organises itself. In our shared concern for a successful economy – we look to the drive and invention of the commercial sector to deliver. The third sector is society’s response to the other ‘deepest thing’ inside us all – kindness: “To tame the savagery of man – and make gentle the life of this world”.



A second fire at the Glasgow School of Art is too much of a coincidence for me – I fear it will prove to have been the deliberate act, of a sick mind.  This glorious building, came to represent the pride of ‘we can do the best’ – a bench mark going forward for our nation’s creative aspirations; for Scotland, particularly Glasgow, its loss feels like bereavement.  I’m not much bothered who eventually gets the blame for this tragic loss – the important discussion is about what happens now.  Forget the cost – we have the records to do a meticulous restoration – or should we go for a brand-new interpretation? Oliver Wainwright has an interesting take.



Donald Trump’s decision to remove the children of those who enter the US without permission, was abhorrent to any understanding of humanity; the level of outrage caused him to back down.  Good BBC piece.  I’ve always assumed that international stability is maintained by a liberal consensus – of which the USA is an important custodian.  Trump’s bare-knuckled assertion of America First, is alienating many of the USA’s traditional allies; it’s not clear how he can be restrained nor the intended shape of his new world order.  Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece, asks “if Trump wants to blow up the world order – who will stop him?



‘Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore’ –  is the title of my second selection of column pieces; it’s from Naomi Shihab Nye’s lovely poem – Kindness.


“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.”

Next Wednesday (27th June), the 2nd SE Action Plan Reference Sub-Group will be held at the Charteris Centre in Edinburgh. The Sub-Group, hosted by Senscot, Social Firms Scotland and Scottish Community Alliance, acts as a forum for frontline social enterprises and membership-led organisation to discuss issues around the SE Action Plan and how it is progressing. The first meeting in March – as well as giving an update on general progress – focused on Branding and Business Support. The focus of Wednesday’s meeting is on social investment and the impending SE Intermediary Review. The existing Social Growth Fund – £8m administered by SIS – ends in March 2019 and it is important that the sector has an input into the approach to social investment as we move forward. Also, the session on the SE Intermediary Review will consider the characteristic required for an appropriate Intermediary support infrastructure for our evolving sector. We have space for a few more folk to attend. If you’d like to come along, you can book here.

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

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding

With the announcement last week of the Programme for the SE World Forum (SEWF) in Edinburgh this September, it is good to hear that bursaries will now be available (£50 – plus VAT). To be eligible for a bursary, you will have to meet at least two of the following three criteria – member of a local or thematic SEN or Intermediary partner; 10 employees or less; and have an annual income of less than £200k. Also – to note – one bursary place per organisation – and places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. To apply for your place – see bursaries. This link goes live at 12 noon today – Friday 22nd June 2018.



Last year, Scottish Govt collaborated with the Robertson Trust and Sportscotland to produce research on the Sport for Change agenda. Further to the report’s recommendations, a new fund has been launched to help the sector better address the needs of Scottish communities through sport and physical activity. The Changing Lives through Sport & Physical Activity Fund will see two-year grants (£30k – £70k) available to organisations meeting key criteria – with £1m being available in total. More info’ on fund here.



Frontline News: Moray SEN this week held its re-launch event. First established back in 2009 – the SEN will continue to be supported by TSI Moray; Machrihanish Airbase was bought by the community in 2012. Today the site employs over 200 people – see their inspiring video; DTA Scotland’s 2018 Annual Conference is in Aberdeen on 2nd/3rd Sept – see full Programme and Booking Forms; Glasgow SEN held its first AGM since being formally constituted last year – see annual report; The Democracy Matters Community Engagement Fund is now open to communities and third sector orgs. Closing date 14th Sept;



What do you think is needed to raise the profile of SE in Scotland? Would a collective brand be the way ahead? Social Enterprise Scotland and Social Value Lab are carrying out a survey as part of the SE Action Plan. They are keen to hear from as many SEs as possible. Survey only takes about 10 mins to fill in.



At our SE Conference in December, Dragons’ Den winners – Weekday WOW Factor and Lingo Flamingo –

Shared their plans for a jam-making project for people living with dementia. With their plans in place, they are now looking to connect with community gardens in Glasgow and Ayrshire for picking berries.  If anyone can help or point them in the right direction – please contact Pasna at



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise which is in the middle of a community share offer to protect its future. The Oban Communities Trust (OCT) was founded in 2015, after the local Rockfield school faced the threat of demolition. Hoping to preserve it for community use, the trust raised nearly £2m to transform the school into The Rockfield Centre – a bright, modern, cultural community hub. Community consultation identified four key themes for the hub: arts & culture; history & heritage; enterprise & education; and community wellbeing. You can read more on the share offer here.