Senscot Bulletin: 22.07.16

Dear members and friends,



Although I favour the Scottish Greens – I feel rising irritation at the determination of politicians and the media to convince us that ‘Corbyn’s not a leader’; I find the Guardian’s insistence particularly annoying. A recent study by the London School of Economics found that 75% of (812) press stories about Corbyn failed to accurately report his views; I can’t remember such a sustained attack on any politician. – relentless.     
Were I ever so unfortunate as to become famous – I like to imagine that I would have the courage of Corbyn’s distance from the media. Their understanding of ‘leadership’ is the glib, smooth performance of a Blair or Cameron – playing the well-rehearsed game. But it’s a ‘rigged game’ – which protects the establishment elite at the expense of everyone else; Corbyn won’t play – so how can he be a leader.
The free market revolution of Reagan and Thatcher, has shaped western society for 40 years – to such an extent that swollen corporate power now subverts democracy. But the living standards of ordinary people have continued to decline; among the alienated there is growing recognition that the long standing neo – liberal orthodoxy is petering out; an ‘awakened’ public has the potential to become ‘organised civil society’ – a force of indeterminate power. A subset of civil society, the Labour membership, chose Jeremy Corbyn to make their party once again a vehicle for the advancement of working people. The ferocity of the opposition he attracts would suggest they chose well.  


If I had a vote in Labour’s leadership elections it would go to Jeremy Corbyn – but not because he’ll unite the party; if the Blairites decide to leave – that’s fitting; they stole the party in the first place, for their own ends. My support for Corbyn is on the basis that he has returned Labour to its radical roots – has awakened a political movement which reaches deep into our communities and appears to be growing. I find his deadpan style refreshingly independent – without deference to established elites or the diktats of global capitalism. If my view sounds ‘unlikely’ that’s probably because it is: I think we’re looking at a very unlikely uprising. To understand better what’s going on, I’m checking the reviews of Corbyn: The strange rebirth of radical politics–by Richard Seymour


As the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in England prepares to invite bids for the replacement Work programme – their third sector is trying to secure changes to a procurement process which heavily favours the big corporate providers. In Scotland, things are better, because from April next year employment support services will be devolved and a new Scottish service will replace the DWP programme. This report explains. In Scotland generally, Govt. is more accessible and through the Employability SEN, Social Firms Scotland and Senscot have had some engagement with the relevant officials; they shared current thinking around a ‘Scottish approach’ to future employability services – identified some of the challenges and explored solutions – there are some encouraging signs.


Last year I attended a seminar in Edinburgh at which Jos de Blok from the Netherlands spoke about the Buurtzorg model of community nursing which he founded in 2006. Impressive. Teams with a max. of 12 nurses share a caseload of around 50 patients in a local area. Because the teams are self-managing (a key element) job satisfaction is high and Buurtzorg has grown to 850 teams with more than 10,000 nurses – many part time. This article in Nursing Times says that a dozen organisations in the UK are looking at this model – with a couple ready to pilot versions shortly.


Staying in Holland, where Iread recently that, prisons are half empty or deserted – with proposals to close 8 by 2021; alternatively they’re discussing an option to hire out empty cells to countries like Belgium or Norway. Scotland, by comparison, has one of the highest European rates of imprisonment; of the various social issues I’ve followed, out of interest, over a 50 year period – penal reform shows the least progress. At the recent Scottish election, the Howard League reviewed the various party manifestos – but wider social and educational policy has more impact on rates of imprisonment that penal reform – the ‘attainment gap’ thinking. This Icelandic academic suggested last week that an independent Scotland might see its future in closer ties with the Nordic countries; this has its attractions.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Furniture Plus Ltd, Transition Extreme Sports Limited, The Church of Scotland, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Community Land Scotland, Fife Forum, Pain Concern, Transition Extreme Sports Limited
EVENTS: Creative Writing For Fearties, 23 Jul; In Focus: Membership & Friends, 28 Jul; Drama Queens: Play Reading for Pleasure, 28 July; Women’s Heritage Bike Ride, 13 Aug;
TENDERS: Wild Film Festival Events Manager – The Southern Uplands Partnership, Intranet & Website Solution – Maryhill Housing Association, Stirling Skills & Employability Pipeline (SSEP) Challenge Fund. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Many of our members have asked us about the future of European Structural Funds and in particular the impending ESF programmes relevant to tackling poverty and the social economy. We received a helpful response from Scottish Government Third Sector Division this week regarding EU funding programmes.  The message is that programmes in the planning remain unchanged and hope to open for business very soon.  In general terms, here’s what Structural Funds Division are saying: “The European Union brings clear benefits to Scotland, including access to European Structural Funds. As the First Minister has made clear, the Scottish Government will now explore all options to secure Scotland’s place in the European Union so that these benefits can be preserved. The European Structural Fund will clearly be a key part of those negotiations.” See more


The latest stage of consultation to inform the development of a Social Enterprise Strategy for Scotland is just about complete. There is still time to contribute your views into the strategy process here and an opportunity to engage in the conversation at Final strategy document will be published in the autumn.


A Sports bundle for SKY TV costs roughly £47 monthly – most people are like me- they either can’t or won’t pay that. As a result, the viewing figures for last weekend’s Open were about a quarter of the BBCs previous levels: at the Sunday climax, 1.1 million compared with 4.7million. For several years, across the UK, Golf has been experiencing a fall in participation; this has coincided exactly with the advance of SKY’s monopoly of televised golf. If 75% of children are unable to even watch it – how does anyone imagine they’ll want to take up the game? I hope golf’s ruling body has some kind of strategy.


I gave up reading about social investment (SI) ages ago – most of it is just nonsense – especially stuff from the USA. But occasionally a reader sends an article which tells it as it is – like this by Jake Hayman writing in Forbes magazine. He gives 3 examples where SI could be useful, do no harm, ‘nice to have’ – and then 3 examples where SI is growing, but is dangerous and works against the values of the third sector. He believes for instance that ‘payment by results’ contracts are dodgy arrangements which can lead to the commoditising of people’s lives; I agree with him.


A number of emerging social enterprises are focusing on approaches that help address the challenges of coping with dementia for individuals, families and society at large. This week’s bulletin profiles another of these – that has the novel approach of using the teaching foreign languages as its means of doing so. Lingo Flamingo, based in Glasgow, provides tailored foreign language workshops to vulnerable adults to help battle against Dementia, brain ageing and other forms of mental illness. Their workshops are geared to improve the communication, cognitive development and inter-personal skills of vulnerable citizens. Workshops are also tailored to fit the individual needs of learners – with age appropriate teaching strategies taking into account as well as visual, hearing and physical difficulties.


This is a para. From a pulp novel I’m reading by Lee Child – featuring Jack Reacher his wandering adventurer.


“I think millions of years ago we were all living in small bands. Small groups of people. So there was a danger of inbreeding. So a gene evolved where every generation and every small band had at least one person who had to wander. That way the gene pools would get mixed a little… I think ninety-nine of us grow up to love the campfire, and one grows up to hate it. Ninety-nine of us grow up to fear the howling wolf, and one grows up to envy it. And I’m that guy”




That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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