Senscot Bulletin: 23.02.18

Dear members and friends,
Like myself, Julian Barnes will be in his 70s; like ‘The Sense of an Ending; (2011) his latest book is about an old guy reflecting on his life; I was hooked from its opening lines: “Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only question.” Barnes says that our personal response to this question is the ‘critical’ story of our lives – ‘The Only Story’.

Reflecting on this millennium, many might consider that internet technology has contributed most to human progress – but I disagree: I believe neuroscience has brought more essential understanding of ourselves. We know now, that the physical architecture of the infant brain – the opening, or not, of neural pathways – is determined by the quality of parenting (attachment): that the love/care we receive – becomes our capacity to commit to others. Our tortured love stories may have little to do with free choice.

The baby learns that when it cries it will be fed, cleaned, comforted etc – or it learns no such thing; we leave infancy (at two years?) with some primary orientation on life – which will emerge in the stories we tell – how hopeful they are. I really enjoy Barnes’ writing – his elegant prose – his psychological acuity about the human heart – but I think in this story he was too negative. Hope without enough critical thinking is naivete – but critical thinking without enough hope is cynicism. Too bleak Julian.



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 (donors) or organisations (associate members) who simply wish to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or donate, see members page. Numbers for 2018 are now at around 90 – 10 places to fill. Check members page in case we’ve missed your name out. Our ‘membership call’ runs until mid-March.



On Monday, Channel 4 News broke a story – that already this year, twelve people have died in Dundee from drug abuse; that Scotland has more such deaths than anywhere in Europe. I was close enough to the early years of the Big Issue in Scotland to gain some understanding of the ‘vendor’ population – the individuals who live on, or near, the streets of Scotland’s cities. Many were ‘passing through’ and did so successfully – but those least likely to ‘move on’ had suffered harrowing childhoods; had a variety of mental health issues; self-destructive lifestyles like substance addiction – and, most critically, a fragile grip of life itself: their death-rate was horrific. The word ‘destitution’ comes to mind; we now learn that Scotland has more destitute citizens who kill themselves than any European country; are we okay with that?



It has been demonstrated – particularly by Preston City Council – that targeted procurement by a town’s major institutions and local govt. – can return millions to the local economy; last week, shadow chancellor, John McDonnell acknowledged ‘the Preston Model’ while launching Labour’s Community Wealth Building Unit. The Unit will focus on creating methods to develop sustainable local economies – vital services delivered by locally-owned co-operatives and community enterprises – underpinned by the commitment to procure everything possible within the regional economy.



The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is now seventy years old; it states, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. On Monday 19th February – over 100 charities and civil society organisations (including Senscot) joined forces to launch a new Scotland Declaration of Human Rights – calling for leadership to maintain rights, regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations. The signatories share concerns about the potential loss of protections outside the European Union – want to establish Scotland as an unequivocal world leader in equality and justice.



NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.

JOBS: The Larder West Lothian, Social Investment Scotland, Care Opinion, People United for Banton, Community Enterprise, The Pollockshields Trust, One Parent Families Scotland, Bridges Programmes

EVENTS: Grow your social enterprise: Tourism growth and innovation workshop, 26 Feb; Digital Data into Action, 27 Feb; Buy Social Academy: Creative Industries, 27 Feb; Rural Heritage & Commerciality, 28 Feb

TENDERS: Car Wash/Valet at Station(s) – Abellio ScotRail, Intensive Family Support Service – Fife Council, Review of the effectiveness of current community ownership mechanisms – Scottish Land Commission. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Senscot yesterday attended a meeting around the notion of the Buy Social model rolling out in Scotland. The meeting was hosted by Social Enterprise Scotland (SES) who were asked by Scottish Govt to co-ordinate the thinking around the implementation of this or other models as part of the SE Strategy and Action Plan. Attended by local and national representative organisations as well as some of the national support agencies, this is the starting point of a longer and wider conversation and consultation exploring if Buy Social or another type of raising awareness campaign is appropriate and/or desirable for the SE community in Scotland – to help them build their ‘markets’ – generating more customers for their products and services. SES, supported by Social Value Lab, will be taking this process forward during 2018.



Scottish Communities Finance (SCF) has now set up an online application and payment system for its new Community Bond. If you’re interested in supporting the Bond Offer – but have not got round to ‘investing’, you can do so by following these links to online application form and payment system. This week, an email was circulated to all those who are members or engaged with SENs – inviting them to consider purchasing a Community Bond. If each organisation were to buy a single Bond (£50), SCF would reach its target of £75k.



According to the European Commission – life threatening pollution affects more than 130 cities in Europe (including the UK) – causing 400,000 deaths each year and costing 20bn euros in health spending. Nine EU members, including Germany, Spain, France and Italy – have just failed a January 30th deadline to meet EU limits on nitrogen dioxide and fine particles; they’ve been given extra time to propose urgent measures – or face legal action. ‘Car nation’ Germany has surprised neighbours with a radical proposal to reduce road traffic by making public transport free – to be tested this year in five German cities.



One of the most popular and effective Govt programmes for our third sector has been Community Jobs Scotland (CJS). This week, at SCVO’s Gathering in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon announced another round of funding for CJS – pledging 700 new jobs for young people. Now in its seventh year, CJS has seen more than 8,400 people being placed in jobs with third sector organisations – with many SEN members participating in the programme.

Still at the Gathering, amongst the scores of workshops, was one, hosted by the Third Sector Governance Forum, that sought to explore key themes of good governance with a view of developing a Scottish Governance Code. Now is a good time to let folk know that, as part of the SE Action Plan, Senscot Legal is already on the case and will be publishing its own Governance Code of Practice in March 2018. The document will be relevant to both social enterprises and wider third sector organisations alike and, as well as being available in both hard copy and electronically, will also include a supporting website. The site has a holding page for now – but will be further populated in the weeks ahead.



This week’s bulletin profiles a community-run cinema – based in Aberfeldy – that was recently featured in the Senscot Briefing –  Cinema and Community Regeneration. The Birks Cinema, established in 2013, provides a varied and dynamic range of screenings, from first runs of hit blockbusters to arthouse films and live opera streams. Birks has emerged as an important ‘anchor’ with the Aberfeldy and surrounding community – providing a range of activities that include a Gaelic café; a licensed bar and cafe. In addition, special events and screenings are organised for additional support needs children as well as people living with dementia, while film-making workshops help develop the skills of young filmmakers.



These are the opening lines of Julian Barnes latest book ‘The Only Story’ – in which he sets out his stall. Intriguing but not, for me, convincing.


“Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question. You may point out – correctly – that it isn’t a real question. Because we don’t have the choice. Who can control how much they love? If you can control it, then it isn’t love. I don’t know what you call it instead, but it isn’t love. Most of us have only one story to tell. I don’t mean that only one thing happens to us in our lives: there are countless events, which we turn into countless stories. But there’s only one that matters, only one finally worth telling. This is mine.”


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210