Senscot Bulletin: 25.08.17

Dear members and friends,

There’s a wasps’ nest in the roof space of my cottage – but not the aggressive type – a docile, dozy strain; during each day about six of them appear in my kitchen – fly about a bit – then quietly expire on the windowsill.  Apart from disposing of the dead, there is little inconvenience – I just live with them.  As well as humans, our clachan (five houses) is home to all manner of precious wildlife – including badgers and buzzards.  Particularly the company of garden birds, has helped me realise that we all live together.
            I live alone and ‘do’ for myself – shopping, cooking, laundry etc – with the exception that every fourth Saturday, a Spanish woman called Maria gives my cottage a ‘deep clean’; she’s very professional – takes pride in her work – and after seven years, we’re friends as well.  On her visit this week, Maria takes a very different view of the ‘friendly wasp’ situation; she clearly considers their nest an invasion of my home to be rid of.  My ‘pro-life’ speech is dismissed as hippy nonsense; I reluctantly agree to take action.
            The West Lothian Council website – ‘pest control’ section – informs that wasps’ nest eradication (domestic) cost £46.50; on Monday, I phone several times but fail to get past some piano music. Tuesday, I abandon the project – admitting to myself that I derive some comfort from the presence of these creatures.  Then I wonder if feeling companionship from dying wasps is a sign that I’m spending too much time alone.


Jeremy Corbyn was in Scotland this week, doing what he does well – out and about listening to folk; seems to have been well received.  His Sunday Mail piece sketches Labour’s attractive, austerity-ending manifesto; there is no mention of either referendum but he invokes Keir Hardie and Scotland’s ‘inspiring working class history’.  Although it’s obvious he doesn’t ‘get’ Scotland – I think it highly likely that a combination of Corbyn’s personality and his politics could inspire a Labour revival up here.  The question is whether Scottish Labour can cobble together a credible band of candidates who won’t stab each other in public before the next general election – which can’t be very far away.


The highly credible Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has issued its report on the conduct of this year’s general election; once again with a damning analysis of the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system.  The UK is now the only democracy in Europe to use FPTP, which the report says cannot cope with the dynamics of a modern, multi-party political system.  A staggering 68% of all votes cast, were calculated to have had no impact whatsoever on the final outcome.


Scotland’s SE Census (2015) informed that most Scottish SEs (around 70%) choose formal charitable status – which brings with it the benefit of business rates relief.  The Barclay Review of business rates has recommended this week that certain other ‘charities’ – like posh schools; golf clubs, ALEOs – should lose their entitlement to relief.  It will be interesting to watch how SNP – and our parliament – responds to the recommended removal of privileges from some of our society’s most elite groups.  Here’s TFN’s take.


The nearest township to my cottage is South Queensferry – since cruise liners started docking at Rosyth, I’ve seen how day trippers can swamp ‘normal’ life.  Among many recent articles deploring the tourist saturation of Skye – I was impressed by this editorial in the West Highland Free Press – which takes a different line.  Tourism, it says, transformed Skye, from economic doldrums to relative prosperity; they should be grateful and appreciative of visitors – and develop the infrastructure to accommodate them. Scotland should embrace that tourism will increasingly become an economic driver – learn how best to live with it.


I don’t recall ever being in agreement with Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray about anything – but he’s bang on the button with his call for the return of important sporting events to terrestrial TV: ‘sporting achievement being viewed by fewer and fewer each year – because of affordability’.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Springburn Winter Gardens Trust, Govan Community Project, The Tannahill Centre, Edinburgh Social Enterprise, Forres Area Community Trust, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, The Ridge
EVENTS: Impact Festival, 28 Aug; Costing for Tenders, 31 Aug; Fife Soup 1, 01 Sep; Pre-start Leadership (East Lothian), 15 Sep; Wine Tasting Evening, 15 Sep; Thai Cook & Dine Evening, 28 Sep
TENDERS: Positive Emotional Wellbeing Support Service – Scottish Borders Council, Rural Scotland Food Waste Roadshow – Zero Waste Scotland Ltd, New Route into Teaching – Scottish Government
Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Following a series of discussions and meetings (including a survey) amongst Thematic SEN members, we will be producing a series of ‘Briefings’ over the coming months – on activities and policy areas identified by Thematic SEN members. As well as highlighting developments in these policy areas, the ‘Briefings’ will also showcase the work of SEN members. This week sees our first ‘Briefing’ – “Loneliness and Social Isolation; the role of social enterprise” – which includes case studies on five SEN members – CFINE; Lingo Flamingo; ROAR; The No.1 Befriending Agency; and Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport. Themes for future ‘Briefings’ will include Cinema and Regeneration; Sport for Change; Diet and Obesity; and Dementia. For more info on these, please email


Victoria Coren Mitchell’s Observer columns often irritate – pretentious; but I enjoyed her rant against fixed-odds betting terminals – the glorified fruit machines in bookie’s shops, where you can lose £500 a minute.  Any chancellor who thinks the state profits from these revenues is ignorant of the social havoc they cause; addictive gambling destroys families and lives.
Every year 100 UK citizens are awarded an expenses-paid Churchill Fellowship – to visit and learn from special projects of interest to them throughout the world. Applications for next year close on 19th Sept.


Prof Stephen Hawking is clearly a person of extraordinary intellect – but with equally extraordinary experience of illness; when he gives a prepared address about the NHS – it’s worth taking note. Hawking recently told an audience that, through a process of underfunding and privatisation, Tory politicians are abandoning our NHS in favour of a US style ‘insurance’ system; a two-tier service delivered by profit-driven corporations. He calls our NHS "Britain’s finest public service – proud to treat everyone equally when they are ill; a cornerstone of our society-which brings out the best in us – we cannot lose it".


Final reminder – two big events over next fortnight: DTA Scotland Conference – 2nd/3rd Sept at the Westerwood. Theme this year is ‘It’s All about People’. See Programme and booking details. Same week – at SVS 200 in Glasgow – on 6th Sept is CEIS’ SE Policy and Practice Conference which, amongst other things, will see the launch of the 2017 SE Census. Again, see Programme and booking details.


News of another well-kent face from the social enterprise community moving on – with Laurie Russell (CEO at the Wise Group) announcing his intention to retire later in the year. Laurie has been at the helm for the last 11 years and, as well as having to deal with a changing landscape within the field of employability, also made an important contribution to our sector during his period as Chair of Social Enterprise Scotland (SES). We wish Laurie all the best with his next adventures.


This week’s bulletin profiles a community transport company that operates one of Scotland’s most successful community transport schemes. Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport Company (BSCTC). BSCTC was set up in 1999 – by and for the community – to meet the
individual needs of people who cannot get out and about. Based in Aviemore, its services cover the
wider Badenoch & Strathspey area – and include a community car scheme; a door-to-door community bus and car scheme; an assisted shopping service as well as a mobility scooter and wheelchair loan scheme. BSCTC currently operates with 3 full-time staff and 6 part-time – supported by 160 volunteers.


Swede Karl Ove Knausgaard’s autobiographical epic became a literary sensation.  He has now written a series of reflections on everyday objects and experiences – called Autumn.


            “Togetherness is one of the good feelings in life – perhaps the best – yet I often do as my father did, close the door behind me to be alone.  It’s good to be alone, for a few hours to be exempt from all the complicated bonds, all the conflicts, great and small, all the demands and expectations, wills and desires that build up between people, and which after only a short time become so densely intertwined that the room for reflection and for action are both restricted.  If everything that stirs between people made a sound, it would be like a chorus, a great murmur of voices would rise from even the faintest glimmer in the eyes.  Surely he too must have felt this?  Perhaps more powerfully than I do?  For he started drinking – drinking muffles this chorus and makes it possible to be with other people without hearing 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