Senscot Bulletin: 24.04.20

Leading journal of medical professionals, the Lancet, has produced a review, based on research evidence, of the potential psychological impact of the present lockdown.  This 150-word summary identifies negative effects, including stress, confusion and anger; it also identifies the main ‘stressors’ during long isolation and how they might be mitigated: e.g. separation from loved ones, infection fears, financial loss, etc.  The potential benefits of mandatory mass quarantine need to be weighed carefully against the possible cost to mental health and national morale; the ongoing support of the general population is not a given.

Parts of our national infrastructure, weakened by austerity, have been exposed by the pandemic as unfit for purpose – most notably the massive gaps in our care for the elderly.  Imagine yourself in a quarantined home, your friends dying around you, no available testing, your carers without PPE, deaths not even officially counted; we are party to a national disgrace.  There are 814 private care homes in Scotland (58% of the market).  In our future ‘wellbeing society’ the provision of care and compassion to the elderly will be the province of our public and third sectors – all care workers being trained and paid to NHS levels: “There are certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honour”.

On a positive note, the pandemic has also shown us, that when motivated, governments can do what they like with money – that so called ‘budget deficits’ are an abstraction.  The ending of destitution, by making sure that everyone has a at least a basic wage – just got closer.

*The Deficit Myth: ‘Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of a Peoples Economy’: by Stephanie Kelton.


When he was appointed chair of Big Society Capital (BSC) in 2014, Harvey McGrath was explicit – that debt finance is only suitable for a small sub-set of the social sector (in practice less than 1%); true ‘social’ investment is a grant, or patient ‘blended’ finance.  This has always been Senscot’s position, and is also the position of this article, looking at the current financial crisis in our sector (by three stalwarts: Niamh Goggin, Helen Heap, Richard Litchfield). With an effective monopoly of the supply of social investment capital in the UK – BSC’s business model has comprehensively failed our sector.  With the current departure of CEO Cliff Prior, the time has come for fundamental change. Interim CEO is Stephen Muers.


Weeks ago, I wrote that the pandemic would ‘expose’ Johnson and Trump – that their political quackery would fall to medical science: here’s the Salon online Mag on Trump and Polly Toynbee on JohnsonJanan Ganesh’s FT column considers that ignorance of science will no longer be ‘cool’ for anyone.


Writing this bulletin each week, I’m aware of the balance between freedom of expression, and the rights of people not to be unfairly defamed.  Like most people, I’m relieved by Lord Clark’s ruling that MSP Andy Wightman’s comment about Wildcat Haven Enterprises was ‘responsible journalism’: good call.


I was mighty impressed and encouraged by Andrew Marr’s interview with Oxford Uni immunologist Prof Sarah Gilbert – about the race for a Corona vaccine. (13 mins). What a pleasure to listen to someone, with such a grasp of her subject – without duplicity or political or commercial guff – a scientist.


BuzzFeed News claimed this week, to have been leaked plans for the UK govt’s three stage exit strategy to ease the lockdown; the article reads credibly but includes so many caveats that timings remain vague. It was helpful that, yesterday, Scottish Govt. published its Framework for Decision-Making.


One for the Old Boy’ by Charles Bukowski.

‘He was just a cat – cross-eyed, a dirty white – with pale blue eyes. I won’t bore you with his history – just to say he had much bad luck – and was a good old guy – and he died – like people die – like elephants die – like rats die – like flowers die – like water evaporates and the wind stops blowing. The lungs gave out last Monday. Now he’s in the rose garden – and I’ve heard a stirring march playing for him inside of me – which I know – not many – but some of you would like to know about. That’s all.’

Last week, we mentioned the growing popularity of our series of thematic SEN meetings (via Zoom). This week has seen a Cultural SEN meeting on Wednesday; a joint thematic SEN meeting is scheduled for this afternoon (over 30 participants) between 2-3pm; and the Employability SEN meets on Wed, 29th April (12.30 -1.30 pm). If you’d like to participate, please contact . As well as offering important peer-to-peer support at this time; these meetings – as well as the various local SEN meetings – are providing important feedback on the issues facing SEN members in responding to the current crisis – and also in beginning to frame actions that will be needed in the future as the sector looks towards its longer term recovery. With most of Scottish Govt’s main funding streams now ‘live’, our focus over the coming weeks will be very much on sector requirements in the year ahead – what will be the needs of frontline social enterprises; how current resourcing of the sector may need to be revised; and what services the national support agencies should be providing to the sector. We will continue to feed this information to Scottish Govt as they consider their approach in the months ahead. For all the latest info on funding, support etc, we refer you to our own Resources Page – and well, of course, as SCVO’s Third Sector Information Hub.

STOP PRESS: Scottish Govt has announced a second phase of the Third Sector Resilience Fund.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, partnership working is more important than ever due to more limited resources, or to meet a new or changing demand. With that in mind, today P4P launches a new guide – Collaboration during a Crisis. If you’re urgently looking for 1-to-1 support to develop a new partnership to respond to this crisis, get in touch with the team by emailing P4P has also produced this handy infographic which summarises the most recent guidance issued by Scottish Procurement.


Glasgow and Cultural SEN member, Fablevision Studios will be conducting a programme of video interviews via Zoom with social enterprises across Scotland –  to get some idea of what they are doing and how they are adjusting to the current lockdown situation. All they require from participants is a name, email address and contact number. From a practical point of view – you could use a laptop/desktop/phone camera etc. Thereafter, it is just a matter of finding a quiet, bright, well-lit location free from distractions. If you’d like to participate, contact Ed or Lou at


Frontline News: Cultural SEN members may like to know, phase 2 of Creative Scotland’s Bridging Bursary is now open. Phase 1 saw over 800 applications for circa £1.5m. Phase 2 has an additional £2m available:

School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE)  – deadline for applications for latest round of its Trade Up and Scale Up Programmes is now approaching – Thursday, 30th April. Application process is fully online – see links:

The SE Academy – as part of its COVID 19 Response and Recovery Programme – is offering fully-funded  learning support programmes to social and community enterprises and other membership-led orgs:


As we continue our focus on how social enterprises are collaborating with others in supporting the most vulnerable in our communities, this week’s bulletin profiles the work of the Food for Good Coalition in Glasgow. The FfG Coalition is made of social enterprises, food professionals and other organisations that are involved in the sourcing, cooking, storing and distribution of good food. They have been very active in secured discounted foods and community spaces that have closed during the crisis – and supported by a network of over 50 chefs and volunteers preparing to cook and deliver. They have been running a crowd-funding campaign to help buy vital cleaning supplies, source ingredients and to support those giving their time to cook and distribute the food to those who need it.