Senscot Bulletin: 25.09.15

Dear members and friends,


            In the mid 1960’s, I was operating a ‘beat club’ in Edinburgh’s High Street – which occasionally featured groups like The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces etc.  In the summer of 1966, the agent I used spoke of a band, just forming, which would be massive in six weeks!  You can pay after, he said, that’s how sure I am.  That group was The Troggs – their launch number, Wild Thing was an immediate hit; as he predicted – the gig was a sell-out.


            That incident made a big impression on me – the realisation that public attitudes could be so easily shaped by media manipulation.  It’s probably in the field of politics that the marketing industry made its most telling impact on our society; spin doctors, soundbites, focus groups; political parties like corporations, selling products.  And then, in the last few years, what appears to be a spreading public rejection of ‘the political fix’.  Up from the streets – in Greece, Spain, Scotland – and now England; stirrings of a new spontaneous democracy – with values.


            Enjoyed this piece byEd Vulliamy – who takes issue with the Guardian Group’s stance on Jeremy Corbyn (it speaks for me).  They didn’t have to endorse the policies, he says, but they let down lots of readers by not embracing, at least the spirit of, what is becoming a mass movement – propelled by the principles of equality, peace and justice. The antagonism to Corbynism is so universal that you wouldn’t give it any chance – except that the internet has made media manipulation much more difficult now.


Whereas the UK is mostly a post-Christian society – mainstream USA takes its Christian roots more seriously. It is also the world engine house of ‘let it rip’ capitalism; most Americans would be unaware of any contradiction here. This is what makes the present papal visit so interesting: the gentle, joyful philosophy of St Francis – who embraced poverty – meets a ruthless market ideology – which celebrates wealth; compelling stuff. Pope Francis’ speech yesterday in the Capitol – was marked by diplomacy and standing ovations; but it’s his ease with ordinary people, particularly the disabled, which is remarkable. I’m interested in what he says on Sunday afternoon from a massive prison in Pennsylvania.


In his book ‘Postcapitalism’ – Paul Mason speaks of “a whole swathe of economic life which moves to a different rhythm… living in the niches and hollows of the market system…a new way of living – in process of formation”. This is a good description of part of the landscape which the Social Enterprise Networks (SENs) inhabit – and which Senscot tries to articulate and promote. Recent piece in the Guardian which gives a good flavour of this new expanding economy.


An excellent example of this “new economy” in action – is the move by residents of Portpatrick on the west coast, to take ownership of the local harbour – and regenerate it as a stimulus to the local economy. They have successfully used the increasingly popular community shares mechanism.


As an ‘Independista’, I truly appreciate what SNP has done for ‘the cause’ – but our Govt suffers from the lack of opposition – from inadequate scrutiny. Found this piece on another excellent crowdfunded site – Quadrapheme. Ronnie Smith says that Scotland has given itself over to a dominant group that is unchallenged and becoming authoritarian; whose leaders have no ideological base, but follow tactical objectives and populist methods. He equates it to Peronism.

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the decision of LIDL – who have guaranteed that from next month they will pay their 17,000 employees at least a full living wage of £8.20 per hour. This will likely bounce other supermarkets into the same decision – increasing pressure on poverty wages. LIDL and ALDI are impressive – showing the rest the way to go.


REMINDER: The inaugural John Pearce Memorial Lecture and Launch of the Social Enterprise Collection (Scotland) which takes place at the Deeprose Lecture Theatre at Glasgow Caledonian University, from 6.15pm, next Monday 5th October. Over 70 folk have signed. To attend, see details.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, Simply Wee County Catering, With Kids, Firstport, L’Arche Edinburgh, Whitmuir Community Benefit Society, GalGael Trust, Out of the Blue, Reeltime Music
EVENTS: Coalfields Community Network Event, 25 Sep; Open Day & AGM, 25 Sep; Glenrothes Community Consultation, 26 Sep; Art of Participatory Leadership, 2 Oct; Unusual Suspects Festival, 7 Oct;
TENDERS: Appropriate Adult Service – East, South and North Ayrshire Councils, Provision of Fruit & Vegetables – Scottish Prison Service, Greenspace Landscaping Works at New Craigs Hospital – NHS Highland and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  The fifth EU Masterclass Seminar is taking place on Friday 30th October in the Borders. The seminar will share some core information before much of the EU programmes are “open for business”. This will follow previous seminars in looking at: a) how ESF and ERDF Programmes will be delivered; and b) how potential applications will need to fit with new funding packages; and c) provide the most up to date information on the current EU Funds Programmes for Scotland. Targeted towards Senscot/SEN, DTA Scotland, Social Firms Scotland, Scottish Community Alliance and Scottish Borders SEC members. You can book here. See latest EU Update.


As part of Scotland Govt’s International SE programme, Assist Social Capital (ASC) is hosting an International SE Conference in the Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere – 28th -30th October – keynote speaker, John Swinney. The event has attracted delegates from across the globe and will contribute to the implementation of an agreed Action Plan to be launched at the Biosphere Reserve’s World Forum in Lima next year. See further details.


Scottish Enterprise, along with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, is one of Scotland’s main economic development agencies. They are currently looking to recruit a Social Enterprise Manager. In Senscot’s early years, the support from Scottish Enterprise was instrumental in helping us ‘get off the ground’ – matching our EU Funding (2001-03). This relationship began with David Coulter, followed by Alistair Thornley and, in more recent years, Sandy Watson. The successful candidate is will follow in their footsteps – acting as an ambassador for social enterprise support in Scotland.


SCRT is hosting its first Conference on 19th Nov at the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh. The Conference is titled ‘Social Finance: Social Investment: Social Banking – what makes them Social?’ – looking at how social finance can better serve the needs of the wider third sector and the work it does. Discounts for SCRT members and third sector organisations are available. For Programme and booking forms, see here.


A key principle in setting up Social Enterprise Networks (SENs) was about the benefits of ‘peer support’ – learning and sharing experiences with others. In that light, it’s great to hear that the Scottish Community Alliance has received funding from Scottish Govt for its new Community Learning Exchange (CLE) programme – which will contribute to the costs of networking which can, at time, be prohibitive. The CLE Programme is open to members of an SCA member network, of which Senscot is one. For more details, see Community Learning Exchange


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise, based in North Ayrshire, offering ‘Grow Food Nature’s Way’ courses in both Scotland and in Austria. Greenway is a specialist technology and training team committed to developing and promoting best practice in optimising soil fertility and community food production. They provide training programmes for community groups and individuals on how to recycle their garden and kitchen waste, make excellent compost and grow food without using any chemicals. This method is accessible to anyone regardless of age or ability – and can also work in an inner city gap sites. Greenway is also engaged in the emerging North Ayrshire SEN.


Pope Francis recent encyclical ‘laudato si’ made direct links, between unfettered economic growth, and the trashing of the planet.


"The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth… In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish…Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years…The idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology … is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry at every limit…We need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that the problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals."


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