Senscot Bulletin 24.04.15

Dear members and friends,


            We don’t fully understand it – or fully believe it – but it appears that we Scots are about to sack Labour – and send the SNP to represent us at Westminster.  This has angered the English and the PM has threatened to change the rules – to curtail our MPs.  With each passing week I feel more remote from election frenzy – enough already.  The collapse of Tesco – into losses of £6.4 billion – was a timely reminder of how our economy is run: a distrusted, low investment business sector – too many of our people in insecure low wage jobs.  The UK supports a failing model of capitalism – which places no value on any social or human mission.
            Just imagine if the Bullingdon boys get themselves back into power – in dealings with Scotland the gloves will come off. When Nicola said she would welcome full fiscal autonomy – they produced the £7.6 billion figure – placing Scotland’s economy somewhere between Liberia and Eritrea.   In Neal Ascherson’s words: “a powerful glacier of opinion is moving through Scotland – broadening and scooping up bits of old landscape…. the roads to Westminster may soon be under the ice.”  Some respond to change by crunching the numbers – the Barnett formula etc; but for others of us the numbers are secondary – we want to make a better society – and that’s about hope.  The writer and statesman Vaclav Havel said: “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well – but the decision that something makes sense – no matter how it turns out.”


The Guardian journalist James Meek is a doughty champion of social democracy – and wrote the book Private Island: Why Britain now belongs to someone else.  In this confident piece, he argues that the essence of the British state is a set of transformational national networks: water, education, health, postal, welfare, housing, transport, energy.  Their original founders – both social democrat and conservative – understood the benefits of a housed, healthy, literate population.  The fundamental principal is that the networks must be universal – funded from progressive taxation-the rich paying more.  But after 1979, the Thatcherites shifted the tax burden to flat fees on the increasingly privatized networks-the poor paying more.  The question now arises – what is govt. for?  Does it protect, provide, shelter, guide, and build?  If not – what is a nation?  Privatization is the key to the election.


Because of the success of agencies like With Kids – providing child therapy in schools – the demand for therapists continues to grow.  When the highly regarded Play Therapy course at Notre Dame in Glasgow ended a few years ago – it left a significant gap in the Scottish landscape.  The good news this week is that With Kids, and a Scottish University, are working together – to bring a new Masters level Play Therapy course to Scotland.  Information sessions for prospective students will be held in Glasgow and Edinburgh.


The book about social enterprise, which has had most influence on me, is Social Enterprise in Anytown (2003) by the late John Pearce; for me it’s the nearest thing to the SE official manual.  At the recent Social Audit Network (SAN) Conference – a lifelong friend of John’s Alan Tuffs, gave a personal memorial lecture about his life and work.  For those who knew John – we link it here.


The American crime drama – The Wire – ran from 2002-2008; I thought it was marvellous and keep the box set at home. It was set, of course, in Baltimore – the latest American city to erupt in violence following the death of a black youth at the hands of the police. Unless you visit the USA, it’s difficult to appreciate the extremes of discouragement and anger experienced in what President Obama call, ‘impoverished black communities’. If the black underclass withdraws its consent from the police – the situation becomes ungovernable.


NOTICES: If you wish to publicise any stories or events please email these to us. To publish vacancies or events on both the Senscot and The SENs websites click the respective links.
JOBS: Greener Kirkcaldy, Tayside Re-Users, Royal Caledonian Curling Club, The Caraven Project, Wevolution, Mid Argyll Community Pool, Kilwinning Community Sports Club, DTA Scotland
EVENTS: Community Shares Scotland – Edinburgh Roadshow, 1 May; Portobello Market, 2 May; Citizen Wellbeing Assembly Scotland, 25 Jun; Nesta Spotlight on Crowdfunding, 20 Oct;
TENDERS: Provision of Asset Based Community & Stakeholders Engagement Services – NHS Grampian, Material Recycling Facility Offtakes – Glasgow City Council, Composting of Organic Green Waste – East Ayrshire Council and Development of a Digital Strategy – Dumfries & Galloway Housing Partnership Ltd. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: This week, Diane Cameron, SE & Sport Co-ordinator, represented the Sport SEN members at Holyrood in a Sport for Development focused meeting with Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health.  Attending with a number of partner organisations, she was encouraged by the increasing recognition of the use of sport as a tool to make change, and is optimistic for further progress in this area; something which is reflected in the Active Scotland Framework . This document identifies key areas in which sport and physical activity can contribute to national priorities. This week, we also welcome our new SE & Health Co-ordinator, Mary Sinclair. Mary will be getting out and about over the coming weeks. You can contact Mary at




Paul Krugman is one of the most respected economists in the world; this is the conclusion of an essay he published in the Guardian this week:" Harsh austerity in depressed economies isn’t necessary – and does major damage when it is imposed”. It becomes increasingly clear to me that present UK austerity is aimed at a permanent reduction of the state – towards a USA-style economy with greater extremes of rich and poor. Krugman argues that this is a political decision; that other, less drastic, measures are available.


SCRT has produced its 3rd e-bulletin this week – including articles on charitable bonds; the Ecology Building Society; a new crowdfunding fund; and an article listing the 20 things wrong with charitable foundations.


As reported a week or two back, Senscot is working with DTA Scotland, Social Firms Scotland and the Scottish Community Alliance to try and ensure that our community and social enterprise sectors are able to access relevant and appropriate information and advice on the new EU funds due to come on stream later this year. In doing so, we have been trying to build connections and networks in Europe – including attendance at a recent ‘Social Economy’ event in Brussels – see report. What is proving difficult is that, in European eyes, we are very much seen as the UK – and the UK ‘voice’ mainly appears to be represented by the British Council – which, of course, promotes a brand of social enterprise very much in keeping with its own interests and that of the UK Govt – where ‘profit with purpose’ is the new mantra.


At election time, Social Enterprise Scotland (SES) is in the habit of performing the thankless task of collating all parties’ various references/commitments to social enterprise etc and making them available in an accessible, easy-to-read format. Duncan Thorp (SES) has done the business again – with this helpful guide.


This weeks’ bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in East Lothian that, we believe, is a first in Scotland – in that it has been set up by a local SEN – Social Enterprise in East Lothian(SEEL). At Home in East Lothian (AHiEL) is the trading arm of SEEL and was set up in January of this year with the aim of providing quality care at home service for older people across East Lothian. AHiEL now employs 14 staff – 10 of whom are care workers – providing care at home services either via referrals from East Lothian Council or, alternatively, can offer a range of services 365 days directly to private clients. See more.


I have long been an admirer of Margaret Wheatley – particularly her ideas around the emergence of new social movements; I’d love her take on what’s going on in Scotland just now.  We link to something she wrote about what she called ‘fearlessness‘.


"In late 2004, the Ukrainian people protested a fraudulent election that had denied them the president they knew they had elected, Vladimir Yushchenko. They wore orange scarves and waved orange banners, becoming known as the “Orange Revolution.” Their tactic was simple: Go into the streets and stay there until you get what you need. Refuse to give in, don’t stop protesting until you accomplish your goal. Their example of persevering protest inspired citizens in many different countries (as far away as Ecuador and Nepal) to take to the streets and stay there until they got what they needed."


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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