Senscot Bulletin: 23.06.17

Dear members and friends,

A reader sent me a 12 minute TED talk by USA psychiatrist Robert Waldinger; he’s talking about his role as the fourth director of the longest study of adult life ever done – 724 men tracked bi-annually for 75 years – to explore what keeps people happy and healthy.  The lesson from thousands of pages of surveys is not about wealth or fame or hard work – it’s simply that people who are more socially connected to family, friends and community – are happier, healthier and live longer; it seems happiness is mostly about our relationships.
            I also enjoyed this interview with a successful New Zealand social entrepreneur called Roy Avery.  He points out, that early in the evolution of our species – everything was a social enterprise; the earliest ‘villages’ were formed by people working together to survive – developing facilities to be used by everyone – the commons.  Working for the common good was the norm – until ‘scale’ distorted everything; now money is deployed more for private than community benefit.
            A film on BBC Alba this week showed how on Barra – life is still lived according to community values; we see the eleven hundred islanders – living small and slow enough to deeply feel their community.  Watching the film, I imagined that, if I were young again, I would choose this ‘shared’ way of life…  But, of course, most young people leave the islands – in pursuit of imagined wealth or fame; it takes the wisdom of later life to appreciate what really matters. Perhaps it has always been thus – always will.


The world is moving too fast – news, surprises, tragedies – we need some calm; we won’t even know till Thursday if the DUP bribes are sufficient to secure the Queen’s Speech vote; it’s all so sleazy. But behind all the noise and turbulence, it’s clear to see that neo-liberalism – the economic and social dogma of the last 35 years is crumbling; even the recent Tory manifesto railing against ‘selfish individualism’; my sense is that the tide is turning. We can’t yet see the shape of the future – which is unsettling; it is largely ‘alternative’ to the chatter of mainstream media – but a social movement, led by the young, is swinging the pendulum back to social democracy.


In 2016, Massimo Bottura was voted the number one chef in the world – mainly for the reputation of his three Michelin – starred restaurant Osteria Francescana – in the northern Italian city of Modena. But Bottura (54) operates another restaurant – Refettorio Ambrosiano – from a derelict theatre, next to a church, in one of the more blighted suburbs of Milan; here, food deemed unsuitable for sale in supermarkets, is cooked by a rota of volunteer chefs to feed the city’s poor and homeless. It’s easy to be cynical about this kind of flashy, over publicised benevolence – but Tim Adams’ article takes a positive look.


Readers who have been around since the beginning of Senscot – may remember that the bold leadership of Steve Wyler played a critical role in the birth of DTA Scotland; Wyler’s ‘no nonsense’ style is now addressing the field of social investment (SI) where, to be frank, there is much nonsense. He said recently: "If you are working in a poor community and you require a small scale loan and you can’t provide security, the social investment market just isn’t there for you". While the SI establishment might dispute some of Wyler’s stats – there is general support for his position – that this sector needs new strategies – new intermediaries who understand front line needs.


Elizabeth Barker – a charity worker and now a Lib Dem peer – has sparked a good discussion by comparing the relative benefits to a poor community of having local charities or a budget supermarket. A few years ago an Aldi opened in Linlithgow – which has since expanded and which I visit every week; I’m in constant admiration at their business model which can offer household staples – particularly fresh local fruit and veg – at such low margins. No low-income community should be without the service of an Aldi or Lidl; our third sector does not have a monopoly on delivering social benefit; there is much we could learn from these operations.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Community Ownership Support Service, Development Trust Association Scotland, WorkingRite, Social Enterprise Academy, Calman Trust, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, Social Investment Scotland
EVENTS: Curry & Ale Cook and Dine Night, 23 Jun; Your Story, 29 Jun; Shared studio spaces available at Out of the Blue Abbeymount Studios, 1 Jul; Social in the Gardens, 2 Aug;
TENDERS: Provision of Education Transport Contracts – PSV – Perth & Kinross Council; Advocacy Services for Children and Young People – North Lanarkshire Council; Youth Services – Aberdeenshire Council and more.  Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Senscot’s Feasibility Study into the Italian Consortia model is due for completion over the summer months. The Study is exploring how, through a collaborative approach, SENs and their members could play a greater role both in delivering services in local communities; speaking with a stronger voice both locally and nationally; and increasing their sustainability. This article in New Start Mag cites the new JRF Report (see below) – giving examples from around the globe, where the social economy plays a far greater and more valued role than it does in the UK. Themes common to the examples mentioned include: local Leadership; supportive ecosystems; long-term partnerships with the sector at a local level; and a far more flexible approach to local procurement. As our new SE Strategy and Action Plan begin to gain traction, these examples give us something to aspire to.


REMINDER: Today (5pm) is the closing date for applications for our two new posts with the Partnership and Procurement Hub. The posts being advertised include an additional Hub Co-ordinator (see – application pack) as well as a Hub Support Officer (see – application pack). Interviews for both posts will take place during week beginning 3rd July. For further info, contact


New report from JRF (Joseph Rowntree Foundation) about the effectiveness of the social economy at creating jobs for people marginalised by poverty. The report’s definition of the social economy is interesting: "The social economy constitutes a range of organisations that have a core social mission, including social and community enterprises; voluntary and community sector organisations; housing associations; co-operatives and mutuals; informal self-help initiatives; social finance and support providers; and alternative business models." The last category ‘alternative business models’ attracts most debate; creating social benefit (Aldi) doesn’t make you part of the social economy.


Scottish Govt announced yesterday the findings of phase 2 of its Enterprise and Skills Review. The main outcome is the establishment of a new Enterprise Agency – the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency –  to meet the distinctive economic needs of communities in the South of Scotland. It appears the new agency will take on a similar role to that of Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) that has always had the additional ‘strengthening communities’ remit which Scottish Enterprise does not. This is a move that has been lobbied for by many people over a number of years. The only question is why it will take three years to set up?


“Billy Connolly is in the early stages of a disease that he knows, and we know, will eventually silence him. Yet his courage and humour was evident last week in a BBC Scotland programme that recorded his reaction to a special gift the city had bestowed”. I borrow these words from Kevin McKenna. After the first war, my mother’s family (the Di Ciaccas) settled in Glasgow – which became part of my upbringing; though not Glaswegian, I have more than a visitor’s appreciation of the generosity, courage and stoic humour of Scotland’s greatest city. Like most Scots, I’m proud and grateful for Connolly’s comic genius – we wish him well.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise set up by the Centre for Stewardship in Falkland, Fife.
WoodWorks is a new programme for enterprising and creative young people (16 to 25 years) who are inspired to learn about and work with wood or with woodlands. Their aim is to develop new ways of supporting young people to turn their ideas into practical action. Young people will get the chance to connect with the natural world, establish their own wood-based enterprise, and to realise their potential by adding value to Scotland’s woodland resources. WoodWorks is hosting a four-day celebration – next weekend (29th June- 4th July). If you in the area – try and pop along. Remember to book in advance.


Jean Monnet (1888-1979) is regarded by many as the chief architect of the European Union. Never elected to public office, he worked behind the scenes – ‘less competition’, he said:


"There will be no peace in Europe if the States rebuild themselves on the basis of national sovereignty, with its implications of prestige politics and economic protection …….. The countries of Europe are not strong enough individually to be able to guarantee prosperity and social development for their peoples. The States of Europe must therefore form a federation or a European entity that would make them into a common economic unit…….The sovereign nations of the past can no longer solve the problems of the present: they cannot ensure their own progress or control their own future. And the Community itself is only a stage on the way of the organised world of tomorrow”.



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