Senscot Bulletin: 23.09.16

Dear members and friends,

I strongly disagree with the view that Jeremy Corbyn lacks leadership;  he’s certainly not interested in the media game (may not even know the rules) but he has many of the qualities prized in my favourite book – the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu: clarity of belief, patience, humility, perseverance…. wonder if he’s a Taoist. What is clear, is that during his past year of ‘failure’ – he has changed UK politics and grown Labour into Europe’s largest political party. Even separate from Corbyn however, one senses that something is on the move; all manner of disparate campaigns and protests – across dozens of themes and issues are converging into a ‘social movement’. It seems to be about young people, with fresh hope for political change, looking for a focus: Corbynistas. Indyref 2014 was propelled by this same hope.
            The Labour party was established over 100 years-ago, to defend the interests of working people (labour) against unrestricted market forces (capital). To win office, Blair and Brown gradually abandoned the core mission and values of their party; as a consequence UK social democracy is now being dismantled – particularly in England. The Corbyn uprising simply wants to return Labour to its founding principles – standing with the powerless against global corporations that threaten our very democracy. Demands for a blueprint of how the ‘restored’ Labour party would prosper, miss the point. As Václav Havel famously wrote: “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well – but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out”.


A rise in the number of people attempting suicide in Scottish prisons, brings a flicker of short term interest in our deplorable criminal justice system; compared with Scandinavian countries, the way we treat sentenced prisoners is about 10 years out of date. A small core of career criminals (some of them scary) need to be incarcerated – but this will be less than a quarter of our 7652 people in custody. Then half of inmates can be considered to have mental health problems; the remaining quarter, in prison for the lack of  more sensible support services. I’m increasingly convinced we should be modelling our future on the Nordic countries.


Harry Leslie Smith was born in 1923 and has written extensively about the great depression of the 1930s – before Britain had a health service on welfare state. With the Labour party locked in what may be its terminal internal battle, it does no harm to remember the poverty which endured in the UK before 1945; the necessity of an effective party of the left – to protect social democracy. Smith’s Guardian Piece.


Last Friday morning, at the east end of Edinburgh’s Princes street, there was a long queue outside what used to be Woolworths; my friend said it’s the Apple shop releasing a new iPhone; there must be a whole world of sophisticated technology which doesn’t touch my life. Enjoyed this articleby Aditya Chakrabortty about Apple – which, he says has a bigger cash pile that the US Govt – but symbolises a broken economic system.


I write this with an ironic smile rather that any badness – but I readlast week of Donald Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf course, established so vehemently, being effected by the sand dunes shifting – (which of course is what sand dunes do). Even in our own wee gardens we can feel the ever encroachment of wilderness – nature’s marvellous life force. But it works both ways; Gullane hill (a lump of rock) was coated in sand centuries ago, by an extraordinary 2 week sandstorm; it now boasts 3 great ‘natural’ golf courses.

Finland’s comprehensive education – ranked the highest in Europe – is very different from ours. It is driven by a commitment to equality; school selection and streaming by ability are outlawed; no formal exams until 18; competition, privatization and league tables do not exist. Perhaps most critically, children don’t start school until they are seven; but what happens before – kindergarten, is considered even more important. This article made me wish Scotland had Finland’s education system.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Atlantis Leisure, Resonate Together, Ideas for Ears, Lesmahagow Development Trust, Community Transport Glasgow, Assist Social Capital CIC
EVENTS: The Scottish Land Reform Conference 2016 – What Next for Land Reform? 23 Sep; Train the Trainer, 23 Nov; Scottish Rural Parliament 2016, 8 Aug; "Beyond the Rainbow", 30 Sep
TENDERS: Expression of Interest form for the Wise Group bid for Work Able Scotland, Learning & Skills Service (Prisoners) – Scottish Prison Service, Complex Needs Employability – The City of Edinburgh Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Senscot in partnership with Social Firms Scotland, Local SENs & TSI’s (Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Highlands) and Highlands and Island Enterprise are organising a Learning Exchange Visit for social enterprises across the North East. The visit will take place on Thursday 3rd November Senscot and is being hosted by, Elgin Youth Café,  there will be an opportunity to choose from a wide range of sessions relevant to social enterprises including – business sustainability; asset transfer; partnership working; employability, tourism; food poverty and much more. The visit is open to social enterprise operating across the area – for more information and sign up details see here.


Reminder: The 2nd John Pearce Lecture takes place on Monday 3rd October at the Deeprose Lecture Theatre on Glasgow Caley Campus. Pauline Graham (CEO of Social Firms Scotland) will give her reflections and perspective on past and current issues affecting the social enterprise sector in Scotland. With the impending SE Strategy for Scotland – due for publication in the autumn – the role and contribution of social enterprise to communities across Scotland has never been more topical. The event is free – see registration form – and it would great to see a strong turnout from across the sector.


Kinghorn Community Land Association (KCLA) owns various small plots of land in and around the town for the benefit of the local community. The Association has now acquired a site on the eastern bank of Kinghorn loch (great views) where they plan to create an exciting eco-cemetery. The present Kinghorn cemetery is full – and if Fife Council grant planning consent – work will begin raising the estimated cost of £250,000. The new facility would be run as a social enterprise.


Following a series of stories hostile to asylum seekers in the Daily Express – a letter of concern was drafted jointly by the chief executives of the Refugee Council, the British Red Cross and Refugee Action; predictably the Daily Express didn’t want you to read the letter so here it is in full. It ends “Stirring up hostility against asylum seekers is as unwelcome as it is unsavoury in a country with a proud tradition of protecting refugees”.


Welcome news this week that a funding stream has been created by the Scottish Govt. specifically to help develop community ‘anchors’ – independent community led organisations which support smaller grassroots groups in their area. The new fund will be jointly administered by the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) and the Scottish Community Alliance (SCA).


In its countless diverse forms – the campaign for Scottish independence gradually remobilises; a Radical Independence Conference will be held in Glasgow next Sat, 1st October. Provocative speakers.


This week’s bulletin profiles a Cultural SEN member that has quickly been establishing itself as a home for new theatre writing in the Highlands and Islands as well as managing the popular Lunchtime Festival Season and The Wee Theatre Festival. Play Pieces Arts Ltd was formed in 2011 and has since grown and developed by making theatre accessible to audiences and theatre makers in the Highlands. This has resulted in support for 18 companies and artists to create work in the Highlands and seen over 1000 people enjoy performances – in spite of having no core funding. Recent highlights include performing 5 shows simultaneously at 5 iconic locations on the Isle of Skye and securing support from VAF to create 20 Event Experience training opportunities for young people in the Highlands


In 2007, at the age of 88, Doris Lessing was awarded the Nobel prize for literature; this is from her speech.


"The storyteller is deep inside every one of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is ravaged by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise. But the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us – for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative……Ask any modern storyteller and they will say there is always a moment when they are touched with fire, with what we like to call inspiration, and this goes back and back to the beginning of our race, to the great winds that shaped us and our world".



That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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