Senscot Bulletin: 24.03.17

Dear members and friends,

Human progress has always been driven but utopian visionaries – ‘partly mad’ individuals who dared to think the earth could be round or humans could fly to the moon – crazy stuff.  Scientific progress has its own accumulating dynamic – becoming uncomfortably fast; I’ve always felt more drawn to the artists or social reformers who, of necessity, start from scratch; in particular, I’ve a lifelong fascination with the legend we know as Francis of Assisi.  There are two insights which this extraordinary individual shared 800 years ago – which remain as important today: he had a ‘Buddhist’ conviction of the unity of all natural life – a lyric love of all creatures; and he believed that the issue of wealth and poverty divides humankind: the instruction to his followers was to ‘be with’ the poor.
            Although I avoided it for months – knew I had a responsibility to see I Daniel Blake; watched half of DVD but got upset – saw remainder next day.  The film’s enduring message for me is however, a hopeful one – captured in the triumphant solidarity between Daniel and Katie with her two kids: ‘if you want generosity – look to the person who has nothing’.  I was reminded of linesfrom Ursula le Guin’s ‘The Dispossessed’: “I’m trying to say what I think brotherhood really is.  It begins – it begins in shared pain”.  If we’re prepared to look at the reality of poverty around us (and it’s not easy) there are people out there who tell it the way it is; Ken Loach is a true prophet of our times.


The primary political theme for me just now is not independence – we’ve got two years to dissect that one; I’m more preoccupied with the slide of the UK into a one party state – a harsh state, stripped of  public services. I stayed longer than most with the hope that Jeremy Corbyn leads a social movement – about to surface with a blueprint for advanced social democracy: this looks increasingly unlikely. I find myself looking towards the Nordic countries for models (and partners) to inspire and shape the future.  The aspirations of the Scottish Govt are not ‘cloud cuckoo land’ – in Northern Europe they are ‘bog standard’. See ‘end piece’ and this article by Adam Ramsey in Open Democracy.


Professor Richard Murphy – a controversial number cruncher – helped me understand in this piece that there is very little separate financial data for Scotland – because Westminster doesn’t consider it important enough to generate it; the GERS figures on which our ‘notional’ deficit is calculated – are extrapolated from overall UK-wide numbers. Murphy thinks it extremely unlikely – that Scotland’s 8% of UK population can be responsible for 17% of the UK deficit. He says GERS should be dismissed as ‘another example of Westminster’s contemptible attitude to all things Scottish’.


Throughout my life, I’ve done everything in my power to avoid even thinking about the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland; by my reckoning, the level of bitterness made the situation hopeless. Regardless of what outrages Martin McGuinness was responsible for in his violent days – it’s important to recognise when someone makes such a public and influential decision to change direction – to promote democracy rather than terror. The image of himself and Ian Paisley laughing together was monumental. This tribute is from Alastair Campbell who was around during the Good Friday process.


In 2016, the Brexit and Trump outcomes were completely unexpected – bowled me over – I had no idea that so many people were dissatisfied; afterwards I assumed they were racists or idiots.  These sentiments – of a liberal leftie who never leaves his comfort zone – were what caused Alice Thwaite to found the Echo Chamber Club.  If you self-identify as a liberal progressive – she’ll send you a weekly selection of articles from outside your usual networks – with a view to you being less cut off.  With specific regard to indy ref 2, I’m going to listen better to no voters. 


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Museums Galleries Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust, Victim Support Scotland, Senscot, BRAG Enterprises, Huntly and District Development Trust
EVENTS: Connect and Collaborate, 28 Mar; Breathing Space Callander 10k – Spring 2017, 05 May; Understanding and working in complexity for non-profits, community groups and change makers, 16 June;
TENDERS: Dumfries & Galloway ESF Stage 1&2 Provision – Dumfries and Galloway Council; Edinburgh’s Domestic Abuse Service Redesign – The City of Edinburgh Council; Print and Fulfillment Services – Link Group and more. Join Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Senscot joined hundreds of social entrepreneurs and sector stakeholders at the SE Exchange, hosted by Social Enterprise Scotland, on Tuesday in Edinburgh. The event kicked off with a speech from Jeane Freeman MSP, who spoke of a “shared mission between government and business with the goal of boosting productivity, competitiveness, employment, fair work and workforce engagement and development. Goals that so many of our social enterprises are already striving towards”.Senscot spoke to a few familiar faces to get a feel for what the Exchange means to Scotland’s SE community and what they hoped to get from the day. See short video comments from a range of social enterprises on our Twitter feed.


Closing date for applications for our Partnership and Procurement Hub Manager post is next Friday, 31st March. The P&P Hub Manager will oversee a team that will seek to provide practical support to SEs and third sector orgs in identifying and responding effectively to emerging tender and other business opportunities through the development of partnerships and consortia. To apply, see application pack.


Since 2010, Senscot has had an office base in Bath Street in Glasgow. Initially set up as a base for Senscot Legal, the Bath St office has been home to Senscot staff as well as staff from organisations we work loosely with. Sadly, due to increasing space requirements (see above) – we are now on the look out for new premises in Glasgow city centre. Minimum requirement is approx. 1500 sq ft. If suitable, we would be open to sharing with others in the sector. Any contacts/info etc welcome – please contact


We were sad to receive a press release this week from Re-Union Canal Boats that their trading arm, Capercaillie Cruisers Ltd (CC Ltd), will cease trading in October 2017. Re-Union became the majority shareholder of CC Ltd in 2009 and, along with private investor, Tim Ford, they have together overseen its growth from 16 to 21 boats – with the holiday hire boat business booming in recent years. However, a series of issues have arisen in their negotiations with Scottish Canals. In light of these, the Board has reluctantly agreed to cease trading at the end of the summer season – but is open to offers from interested parties in taking over the business.


Although in my opinion, some kind of UBI (universal basic income) will become inevitable – it’s still years away. What we know as the ‘gig economy’ however is already happening all around us: all across the world – millions of independent, self-employed workers – mustered for paid ‘gigs’ by online/on demand platforms. The current New Statesmen carries a longer piece exploring some of the implications of this trend for the quality of future work.


The Edge Fund is a small grant funding body that seeks to support work run by and for communities facing discrimination and injustice. They fund work carried out by individuals and grass-roots groups across the UK and Ireland that may find it difficult to get funding elsewhere. Their first funding round for 2017 is now open – closing on 17th April is looking to distribute around £40k to 30 grassroots groups. See previous awardees.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new enterprise, based in Glasgow, that is host to Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course. Pinkston Watersports is a flat-water basin with bathing quality water – and also has meeting rooms and storage facilities for use by local clubs and groups. Pinkston is an official Glasgow 2014 Legacy project (operated by the charity, Glasgow Watersports Ltd) and is looking to offer both the local and wider Glasgow community a unique venue for organisations looking for wet and dry facilities. One of their clubs – Pinkston Paddle Club – is run entirely by staff from local youth clubs.


The World Happiness Report for 2017 – released this week on behalf of the United Nations – shows that once again that the Scandinavian countries are the world’s happiest nations: Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland taking the top five places. American political scientist Benjamin Radcliff recently used statistics to show that:


“The differences in your feeling of well-being living in a Scandinavian country (where welfare programs are large) versus the US are going to be larger than the individual factors in your life. The political differences trump all the individual things you’re supposed to do to make yourself happier – to have a fulfilling personal relationship, to have a job, to have more income. The political factors swamp all those individual factors. Countries with high levels of gross domestic product consumed by government have higher levels of personal satisfaction”.


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