Senscot Bulletin 24.04.15

Dear members and friends,
Several of my oldest friends and relatives are business people; they sincerely believe that the economy is founded on the likes of them, being left to make money – with minimum interference.  It seems only natural to them – that the wealth of the world should accrue to the victorious elite; Darwin’s law.  The friends I see more often though – tend to share my own ideal – of a world in which everyone has a common cause with everyone else; where all enjoy mutualised services; a society with high social mobility.  Cameron and Miliband represent only approximations of these ideologies – but in twelve days’ time, UK citizens will decide whom they prefer on the bridge – for what is expected to be a difficult voyage.  It’s a close call.
Often in Scotland I find political discourse unpleasant – comment spiteful and personalised.  Our two main political tribes – SNP and Labour – are, in policy terms, almost identical – and yet harbour a visceral hatred for each other – which spills over.  A tiny political class – a few hundred people – is poisoning representative democracy in our country.  In Norway, 1 of every 81 citizen’s stands for council elections – compared to one in 2071 Scots; a whole missing tier of democracy.  Before the year is out – we’ll be back into bitter Labour/SNP rivalry, for the Scottish Parliamentary elections.  Can we expect anyone to campaign for the rebirth of local democracy – for replenishing our political stock with a fresh citizen army?  I’m afraid our political class – both tribes – like things the way they are.


Our Nicola seems to have captured the hearts of voters across the land – the whole UK is rapt; David Cameron’s increasingly hysterical defamation of the SNP – may be having the opposite effect than he intends. Lesley Riddoch says here that, under Nicola, the SNP has adapted faster than the others to the new political environment; that “her confidence is compelling”. At 56 pages – the effort invested in the SNP manifesto is impressive: (some pleasing mentions for our sector). After its launch this week, Nicola hung back, unexpectedly – to chat for 40 minutes with the press corps. Some hardened political correspondents –  quietly captivated.


Everyone we speak to is appalled at the drowning of those poor souls in the Mediterranean; for me, it’s the thought of being locked in the hold of a sinking boat. The UK withdrew from search and rescue support – because it might encourage more crossings and more deaths. People fleeing starvation and civil war don’t change their minds because it’s dangerous; in their position, I hope I’d get on a boat. Desperate people are dying – as Europe dithers. Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle’s take.


I attended the first gathering of the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) in November 2012 – eclectic mix of around 900 ‘leftie’ activists. To the surprise of some – RIC continues to flourish – playing its part in Scotland’s historic democratic revival. As a broad radical movement of the left – RIC has produced this pamphletmaking arguments against austerity. Clearly left of the SNP – it will be interesting to see what showing this movement makes in Scotland’s parliamentary elections next year.


For the past year – perhaps a bit longer – the medical practice where I’m registered has been showing signs of stress – too much work for too few doctors. It helps that this problem is now being openly discussed – with GP professional bodies warning that Scottish practices have recruitment problems – and patient services are suffering. Let’s hope that Shona Robinson and her colleagues are giving this their urgent attention. In an Observer feature this week, Scots writer and comedian Al Kennedy is pessimistic: "In many areas the NHS has passed beyond the point where it can operate effectively". She has decided on private health insurance – but says she is ashamed.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: Penumbra, WorkingRite, Community Energy Scotland, Scottish Community Safety Network, Blake Stevenson Ltd, Kilwinning Community Sports Club, Greener Kirkcaldy, Greener Kirkcaldy,
EVENTS: Northern Streams 2015 – Festival of music, song & dance from Scandinavia & Scotland, 25 Apr; Edinburgh Roadshow, 1 May; Portobello Market, 2 May; Nesta Spotlight on Crowdfunding, 20 Oct;
TENDERS: East Ayrshire Works Employability Pipeline Framework, Alloa Skatepark Project – Clackmannanshire Council, CPD Connect Website – NHS Education, Online Technical Resource Library – Scottish Borders Council and New Horticultural Training & Community Centre – Inverclyde Association for Mental Health. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: NEW JOB: Having piloted this initiative over the last year, in partnership with Social Firms Scotland, Senscot is now looking to recruit a ‘Partnership and Procurement Support Co-ordinator’. The work, during the pilot, was successfully carried out by Joan Riddell. The postholder will offer practical support to social enterprises looking to work in partnership and/or in identifying and responding effectively to emerging tender opportunities being presented through current public service reform. You can download full application pack here. Closing date – Monday 18th May 2015.


REMINDER: The Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015 is underway. This census is seeking to capture the size, scale and reach of SE in Scotland – for the first time. This is an important milestone for SE in Scotland. Over 600 SEs have already participated in this part of the process so far. It would be very much appreciated if you could take 15/20 mins to register your information. Here’s some background


The Conservative Party’s manifesto pledge to extend the right to buy – one of their flagship policies from 1980s – is, they say, part their commitment to ‘help working people’. What is different this time round is that as opposed to selling off state-controlled council housing, they are now proposing to give discounts (at least 35%) for England’s 1.3m housing-association tenants to buy their homes. Many Housing Associations across the UK embody the spirit of the third sector, acting as anchor organisations within their respective communities. Such a move has to be resisted. See more


Couple of events in Edinburgh worth attending if you’ve got General Election fever. The Grassmarket Community Project (GCP) is running two General Election–themed film nights over the next two Mondays – 27th April and 4th May. First up is Ken Loach’s ‘Spirit of ‘45’ and then, on the following Monday, ‘A Very British Coup’. Both showings are FREE.


Over the last couple of years, SCVO has led a campaign in Scotland to boycott the Workfare Programme – which basically compels people to work for their benefit. This week, Brian Tannerhill, former CEO of McSense, expressed his disappointment that the organisation he founded in 1988 has been participating in the programme. The devolution of employment support programmes is a key tenet of the Smith Commission. The quicker these are put in place the better.


Big demand for mentoring at the moment. Last week, we put out a last call for recruiting and training mentors for the new Village SOS programme – taking place in Glasgow (29th April) – Inverness (30th April).
And this week, we hear Bad Idea are looking for 25 mentors from the business/SE community for their ‘Ideas – Making It Happen’ competition with school leavers on 11th May at the Pierce Institute, Govan. If interested, contact Calum Stewart at


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise that is going to become the hub for Scotland’s emerging Circus community. Full Cirqle, based in Portobello in Edinburgh, expects to be home to seven circus companies and up to 50 individual members working in circus, theatre, parkour, music, film, yoga, pilates and physical therapies. If you fancy a whirl on the trapeze, Full Cirqle will be welcoming the wider community to learn, train and participate with them. Full Cirqle has recently run a successful crowdfunding campaign that has allowed them to kit out their new premises (subletting from Out of the Blue) with the necessary equipment in place for their official launch next month – 10th May. See more


Scotsman Ian Jack is a Guardian columnist of a strong indyref ‘NO’ persuasion. This long, well researched journalistic piece is more measured than most about ‘the Nicola factor’ – but acknowledges that something extraordinary is underway in Scotland.  This is the ending.

"The most famous event ever to happen in Glasgow’s George square-was on 31 Jan 1919-when, fear of revolution, brought out the troops.  But had that crowd threatened the future of the state and its standing in the league table of the great powers? Not really. Had the imprisoned trade union activists who later became radical MPs, the celebrated Red Clydesiders, threatened it? Not really. Had the vast anti-Polaris marches of the 1960s threatened it, with all their acts of civil disobedience and folk-singing optimism? No again. The United Kingdom sailed on. Only now, with the west of Scotland nearly expunged as an economic force, does the political will of its people keep the rest of the country awake. Here is the queer thing, the thrilling thing and the frightening thing. Among the food banks and the trampled front gardens of the big housing schemes, poor people here have begun to feel they have power.”


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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