Senscot Bulletin: 26.01.18

Dear members and friends,
Funeral of a respected colleague from the ’80s – shocked by how decrepit my contemporaries look; recall Philip Larkin’s unsparing lines: “Their looks show that they’re for it: ash hair, toad hands, prune faces dried in lines – why aren’t they screaming?”. Our website confirms my 2005 reference to this poem, ending: “But I’ve got a bit of time to go yet – with luck another decade of mellow fruitfulness”. So, by my own reckoning, I’m past ‘the warm September of my years’ – deep into winter.

The answer to Larkin’s question – why I’m not screaming – is that decline has come in small, manageable increments; my loss of mobility, memory, hearing, sight etc has been mercifully gradual – nothing dramatic. I also relish some aspects of the ‘invisibility’ of old age – like ditching stuff I don’t want to do. Driving to a social event recently, I changed my mind, turned back. When you decide to go home before you even get there – you’re getting old.

While I tend to avoid groups – I enjoy one-to-one conversations – which can offer flashes of real ‘communion’ with another human being. Scots psychiatrist, the late RD Laing, suggested that the power of these interpersonal encounters, comes not only from the attunement of two people to each other – but also from being in tune with a ‘healing spiritual field’- always there – in us and between us. Laing conceded that this ‘force field’ is beyond the investigation of science – but I think I’ve always been aware of it.



Each year, Senscot invites financial donations from readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin. Traditionally, around 100 individuals give an average of £25 to become full company members. Senscot’s board is elected by and is accountable to these members. We also invite donations from individuals (donors) or organisations (associate members) who simply want to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or donate, see members page.


A new Oxfam report on Monday: Reward Work Not Wealth – reminds us again of the deepening crisis of wealth inequality in Scotland – where the richest one per cent have more wealth that the bottom 50 per cent. Oxfam’s Glasgow-based senior researcher, Katherine Trebeck, said that its grimly apparent that inequality is out of control. In 2013, the French economist Thomas Piketty demonstrated meticulously (700 pages) – how growing inequality is hard-wired into our economic system; because the value of capital grows faster than the mainstream economy – only a global wealth tax has the chance of maintaining some sort of balance. I don’t know if the Scottish govt. even has the power to set a wealth tax – but it hardly matters, much too ‘decisive’ for our present crop of politicians. Perhaps maybe Jezza……



Near St Mark’s Square – four tourists were charged £1000 for a meal – without wine. Even in the rip-off culture of Venice, this is excessive – the authorities are investigating. The Carillion collapse has returned our attention, in the UK, to the rip-off culture of PFI; will those of us who want to see the return of public sector procurement, be able to see-off the determination of corporate lobbyists. Good piece by Robin McAlpine of Common Weal – about their proposal for a Scottish National Infrastructure Company; intended as a design and build centre of excellence – on behalf of any public body with a major project.



The writings of political commentator, Paul Mason, are rarely simple – but this article has helped me understand how Labour could steer the UK to an acceptable resolution of the Brexit mess. My own choice would be to remain in Europe – but Mason outlines a compromise/unifying strategy. It’s clear that May’s Cabinet will split over Brexit or only allow a ‘hard’ deal which will be rejected by Parliament. In the resultant general election, Labour would promise the softest possible Brexit – and an in/out ratification referendum. Such a tactical plan could unite Remainers, soft Brexiteers and even some hard Brexiteers who have come to realise the implications.


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

JOBS: The Tannahill Centre, Coach my Sport (CIC), New Caledonian Woodlands, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Ferguslie Park HA, Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire

EVENTS: Tennis Celebration Event at Good, 29 Jan; Branding for Beginners, 30 Jan; Scottish Mental Health First Aid: Young People – Health in Mind. 01 Feb; Portobello Market, 03 Feb;

TENDERS: Supported Living Services for Adults with a Learning Disability – Aberdeen City Council, Provision of Homecare Services – Inverclyde Council, Summer Attraction – The City of Edinburgh Council


The SENs Weekly Update: In 2016, Senscot carried out a review of our thematic SEN activity – to re-visit their original focus and also to determine key priorities in moving forward. This was especially relevant with the introduction of a number new policy initiatives from Scottish Govt. These included: Health & Social Care Integration; Self-Directed Support; Food Poverty; Tourism & Heritage; Creative Industries; Sport for Change; and Employability. In 2017, an online survey of SEN members also identified a number of ‘issues’ within these priority areas such as: Loneliness & Social Isolation; Dementia; and Cinema & Regeneration – all offering scope for collaboration between both thematic and local SEN members. Much of this work has been reflected in our recent series of SE Briefings. We now feel the time is right to re-visit these priorities via a new Tick-Box. We’d appreciate if you could take 5 mins to complete. Thanks.



On Thursday/Friday – 11th/12th January – two dozen leaders from civil society and the public sector gathered for two days at New Lanark; this was the beginning of what is being called a Local Governance Review. Over the next 7/8 months, communities across Scotland will be invited into a discussion about what local decision-making should look like; the hope is that this consultation will feed into a new Scottish Local Democracy Bill. My sense is that, at this stage, the process is tentative – with little clear idea of what ideas will emerge; but that’s as it should be if they intend to listen.



Readers of this bulletin will be aware that, over the last year, a number of significant faces have moved on (retirement/new jobs etc). News this week of another well-kent face stepping down, as Craig Sanderson announced his intention to retire after 43 years at the Link Group – and 30 years as Chief Executive. Craig has been a great friend and champion of social enterprise in Scotland. We wish him well in his retirement. Following last week’s piece on Andrew Burns as the new Convener of SCVO, they have also moved quickly in appointing Anna Fowlie as new CEO – replacing Martin Sime. Anna joins from the Scottish Social Services Council and, we understand, will take her new post in April. Good luck to Anna, too.



Assist Social Capital and the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA) are hosting a joint event – Scotland in Post-Brexit Europe – in Edinburgh on Thursday,8th February. The event is for anyone interested in participatory democracy and collaboration between local communities and the public sector in Scotland and the UK in a post-Brexit Europe. The event is free – see details.



Last year, 25 social enterprises took part in AIM2Flourish, the world’s first global initiative steering future business leaders towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Final Year students from Glasgow Caley’s (GCU) Business School interviewed SEs across Scotland and produced a series of case studies to showcase their social impact. Social Firms Scotland and Senscot are working with GCU again this year – and looking for 50 SEs to take part. If interested, please email Jayne Chappell. Some basic (and brief!) info’ about your social enterprise will be asked for and sent on to GCU. See more details.



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in Glasgow that provides-high quality landscape gardening services to local authorities, housing associations, business as well as private homes in the West of Scotland. YES Works is part of Young Enterprise Scotland and a member of Glasgow SEN.  YES Works focuses on three specific areas on work: hard and soft landscaping; garden maintenance; and garden furniture. The latter they provide in partnership with Kibble Works. As well as providing the above services, YES Works also offers a range of training and employment opportunities for vulnerable and socially excluded young people throughout Greater Glasgow.



The writer Ursula Le Guin died peacefully on Monday, she was 88. A feminist, influenced by Carl Jung and Taoist philosophy, Le Guin used fantasy and science fiction to explore better ways of being; I came to think of her as one of the wisest people alive (some quotes). On the relationship between life and death, she saw that without darkness, no light – that mortality allows all that is alive to be. See New York Times Obituary.


“You will die. You will not live forever. Nor will any man nor any thing. Nothing is immortal. But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose… That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes it is gone, a wave on the sea. Would you have the sea grow still and the tides cease, to save one wave, to save yourself?” — The Farthest Shore, 1972 (Earthsea Cycle #3).

That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210