Senscot Bulletin: 24.06.16

Dear members and friends,

            Every day I leave stale bread on my bedroom windowsill – for several families of Jays, nurtured over the years; a ‘relationship’ has developed with the smallest, scrawniest one who stands and stares at me through the glass.  Sometimes, if there’s no bread, he taps on the window to tell me to get some – which I do because it’s so amazing.  Living alone, in the middle of nature, carries this risk of ‘going native’; as it gets warmer, my days increasingly respond to the needs of the garden – where I spend hours.
            Important for my pastoral tranquillity, is the absence of communication technology; I use email constantly, but no mobile, no texting – no connection with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.  I celebrate the existence of social media as a ‘commons’ – enabling the humblest to organise and challenge elite power; but it’s all too ‘agitated’ for me.  In a parallel world, last week, Microsoft paid 26 billion dollars for LinkedIn – giant corporations wrestling for control of all our data; but I don’t allow any of that into my head.
            In his poem ‘A Mistake’, Czeslaw Milosz reflects on how the inevitability of death can be seen to mock our daily lives; I like the hopeful ending: “But a paraplegic in my street whom they move together with his chair from shade into sunlight, sunlight into shade, looks at a cat, a leaf, the chrome steel of an auto, and mumbles to himself ‘Beau temps, beau temps’.”  I aspire to be like that blessed person – easily in touch with the wonders of the mundane.


I rose this morning to the devastating news that Britain has chosen to leave the European Union and the Prime Minister is to stand down– i’m still dazed; it’s so sad that the brave European project is further weakened. As predicted, Scotland chose emphatically pro Europe, so Nicola Sturgeon’s judgement against another indyref – will come under new pressure. The bitter divisions in the UK must concern us all; it took the savage murder of Jo Cox – one of the best of us – to bring the realization that political debate has descended into unacceptable levels of coarseness and venom. If we are to negotiate the very difficult times ahead – the realm of public discourse needs to recover its dignity and restraint. I’m still dazed.


Good piece by Joanna Blythman about how the basic business model of the giant supermarkets encourages us to buy too much food – creating excessive waste; she says we must look and learn from the burgeoning grassroots initiatives that aim to re-localise and scale down our food chain.  A bright new example is Scotland the Bread – a collaborative project to build the capacity of community-scale artisan bread making using the best Scottish grown wheat; they have just launched a £30K share issue for working capital.


Among the most effective boosters of local economies are community energy projects; while the obstacles are challenging – the rewards can be generous.  Congratulations to Aberdeen Community Energy (ACE) on the start of the construction phase of their Donside Hydro scheme – the first community Hydro in Scotland.


Campaigners for land reform in Scotland are to keep up the pressure by again staging the ‘Our Land’ Festival.  The organisers are calling on activists and communities to organise their own events as part of the festival which starts August 11th. An opportunity to call for bolder measures from politicians.

Some large charities and housing associations, in their pursuit of ‘volume, scale and reach’ are prepared to ‘walk over everyone’ and are no better than Serco or Capita.  Paul Streets, CEO of Lloyds Bank Foundation, gave this opinion at a panel debate in London last week – presumably referring to the English scene. But there are those of us who believe that Scotland also needs to discuss how the ‘big beasts’ are preferred in the procurement process over better connected and better value  small local enterprises. Senscot thinks it’s time to focus our thinking on this one – towards some kind of collaborative initiative.


An area of policy where I believe the Scottish Govt is ‘off the pace’ – it’s failure to introduce a kindergarten stage for all children aged three to seven – as proposed by the Upstarts campaign. Interesting piece by psychologist Suzanne Zeedyk who believes that we Scots have a Presbyterian fear of frivolity.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Impact Business Leaders, Remade in Edinburgh, RAMH, Workingrite, Penumbra, Douglas St Bride’s Community Group, New Caledonian Woodlands, Pain Concern, CHAP, Glengarry Community Woodlands
EVENTS: Merchant City Women’s Heritage Walk, 2 Jul; Protests and Suffragettes: Strong Women of Clydeside Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, 2 Jul; In Focus: Membership & Friends, 28 Jul;
TENDERS: Community Consultation – Balerno Village Trust, Community Based Support for a Social Enterprise – East Ayrshire Council, African Health Project – NHS Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire Works Employability Framework – East Ayrshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.

The SENs Weekly Update
: Kim writes:  Renfrewshire SEN is one of the most recently established SENs – on the go for a year now. Renfrewshire SEN and its members receive support from the local Third Sector Interface, Engage Renfrewshire which provides a range of one-to-one support and development as well as levering in support from national SE support providers including Just Enterprise, COSS, Firstport, Senscot and Senscot Legal.  The SEN now has 25 active members working across a wide range of themes including fuel poverty, education, community engagement and employability. This week they launched a short video, produced by one of the members, Create Paisley. See VIDEO


Senscot is working in partnership with the Homeless World Cup (HWC), hosting a series of workshops – showcasing sport SEs and other community-based sports organisations. The three workshops include a wide range of presentations from Sport SEN members – as well as contributions from the SFA; Hibernian Community Foundation; RBS; Sportscotland; the Robertson Trust; NHS Health Scotland; Glasgow Life – amongst others. All three workshops are free to attend – running from 5- 6.30pm. You can sign up here.


This morning, in Edinburgh, around 130 folk are gathering at the Community Enterprise symposium – ‘Where Community meets Enterprise’ – highlighting the distinctive and invaluable contribution community-based enterprises are making in local communities across the country. The event has clearly struck a chord with many in our sector. Amidst the ‘hype’ that surrounds social enterprise, the overwhelming majority of our sector do not have aspirations to ‘scale up’ – but to retain their original focus of serving and re-investing any profits in their own local communities. This event celebrates the work of those organisations.


This week, Senscot welcomes a new member of staff. George McConnachie joins us as our new Partnership and Procurement Co-ordinator. George replaces Alan Johnston – who is now our SE and Sport Co-ordinator. George joins after a number of years working with the Isle of Coll Development Trust. Once he finds his feet, you can contact George at


Everyone’s favourite Awards ceremony took place last week in Edinburgh. The Social Enterprise Academy School awards, with John Swinney again in attendance, saw over 200 young people, representing 32 schools from across Scotland, take the opportunity to showcase their work. Here’s a list of award-winners.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that is at the vanguard of Scotland’s growing band of Scottish-based SEs operating internationally. Assist Social Capital (ASC), founded by our former colleague, Colin Campbell, has been making its mark in a number of international arenas. Most recently, through its engagement with UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme, ASC has, with the support of Scottish Govt, developed the SE & Biosphere Reserve (SEBR) Development Framework document which was adopted as part of the 10 year strategy at their recent World Forum in Lima, Peru. This work will be promoting the SE model to over 600 biosphere reserve communities in 117 countries across the globe.


The intelligent design that Albert Einstein saw in the universe shared no part of the mythology of established religions.  For Einstein, the designer created only the laws – from which all else inevitably follows – but he considered himself to be ‘religious’.  


"My religiosity consists of a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we can comprehend of the knowable world.  That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the comprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.  How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology?  In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it."


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