Senscot Bulletin: 26.02.16

Dear members and friends,

            I had a fairly dismal trip to London and Spain – a heavy cough/cold and particularly foul weather. But there’s something about ‘getting away’ which works for me ‘of itself’; back home I feel energised – reaching for what used to be out of reach. I arrive home as the EU Referendum campaign gets underway – now set for 23rd June; the London media (which includes the BBC) fixates on the ‘momentous’ Tory Party squabble – Boris v the PM – high drama; but Scotland is remote from this.
The thought of the UK outside a European Union is quite simply appalling to me – beyond consideration. In the coming months, 80% of our newspapers will try to skunner us with the EU’s complex structures – its numbing bureaucracy; but decisions like this are made at a deeper level than tinkering with structures. Following two terrible world wars – 28 sovereign states around Europe work towards a political/economic union – a vision “founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy and equality”: I can’t imagine what circumstances would justify not sharing in the realisation of this dream.


            Talking last week with (bilingual) Spaniards – I found it difficult to get anyone to take seriously that the UK might leave the EU. The young people, in particular, take for granted the free movement around Europe of its citizens. While it’s not a done deal – I believe the Brits will vote with the young people of Europe – our future.    This is a good time to circulate a letter published by Donnachadh McCarthy in his book the Prostitute State.


Everyone is pleased (and a bit relieved) that the ‘fiscal framework’ deal got done. Although Westminster had more to lose from failure than Holyrood – I prefer to think of it as a victory for the impressive negotiating skills of John Swinney and team. Scotland’s Parliament will ‘dissolve’ on 23rd March as a prelude to the Holyrood elections on 5th May. Swinney has promised that, with a framework now agreed – he will set out, prior to dissolution, how the SNP intends to use the new tax raising and welfare powers. This is what so many of us have been waiting for – a clear indication of where our Govt sits on the spectrum of social democracy. In Scotland, many thousands of children are still born into circumstances which deny them a full life; some of this can be sorted.


The grass roots membership of the SNP has already radicalized proposed Govt. legislation on land reform – and a similar campaign is underway from the membership for an outright ban on fracking; but as the SundayHerald revealed recently – our Govt. has just let 3 contracts looking into the feasibility of fracking.  This is a flyer for a nationwide roadshow – which features a film from the USA ‘Groundswell Rising’; it captures the passion and courage of people dedicated to challenging a system that promotes profit before health.


The Green Party is the UK’s most committed political opposition to fracking – and also for their stance on local democracy and land reform – I hope the Scottish Greens make significant gains in the Holyrood elections.  Lesley Riddoch, who seems generally supportive, says in this piece that they need to get more aggressive in Scotland – rebut criticism.  But personally I like the way the Greens conduct their business – calm, courteous, refusing to swap insults.  They have dignity.


Last week of Senscot’s annual appeal for readers to renew membership donations – which help pay for the production of this bulletin. We’re on 94 (target – 100). We also invite donations from individuals or organisations who simply want to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or to donate – see members page . If you’ve donated and your name’s not on the list, please email



From my extensive reading of Scandic noir thrillers– I’m aware that access to a basic hut – from which to enjoy wild natural landscape – is a normal part of Scandinavian leisure life.  While Scotland has some history of hutting – the lack of a suitable regulatory framework has caused it to almost disappear.  Ninian Stuart, who founded the shoestring Thousand Huts campaign, will take great satisfaction from the publishing this week of ‘New hutting developments’– a long awaited planning guidance document.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Dig-In Bruntsfield Community Greengrocer, Firstport, Mid Argyll Community Pool (MACPool), Barony, Church of Scotland, RAMH, Community Enterprise, Glasgow Wood Recycling, Patient Opinion
EVENTS: Dumfries Community Shares Training, 3 Mar; Portobello Market at Spring, 5 Mar; Thought Matters, 11 Mar; Meet A Mentor for Women, 24 Mar; wee SKELFs Easter club, 4 Apr;
TENDERS: Recycling and Waste – Edinburgh Leisure, Business Plan Brief – Govanhill Baths Community Trust, Construction of a new Adult Learning Disability Centre – North Ayrshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Last chance to complete this short 4 question survey to help inform the future direction of the Employability SEN. One of the main reasons for establishing the SEN was to provide a strong collective voice in the employability arena – specifically for social enterprise – as well as taking a more pro-active approach to influencing policy both locally and nationally. Given how important this role is, we’d appreciate if social enterprises working in employability – either involved with the SEN as well as those who would like to be involved – could complete the survey. We’re looking to hold a meeting in the next month and are just finalising speaker and venue details – more info on this next week. If you’re not engaged in the Employability SEN but would like to be, contact Jayne at SFS or Kim at Senscot.


Senscot Legal’s refreshed website went ‘live’ this week – see Coming to the end of its fifth year of operation – Senscot Legal provides a range of legal services to social enterprises and third sector organisations. During this time, over 600 organisations have made use of its services – with over 20% being repeat business. If Senscot Legal could be of help to your organisation, contact


Congratulations to our old pal, Mel Young, on his appointment as chair of sportscotland. Mel is best known in his role as President of the Homeless World Cup. He was also Senscot’s Founding Chair and has maintained his contact with us over the years through his role with the Sport SEN and Roundtable. Here’s a Herald article where Mel sets out his thoughts on how sport can change lives.


A couple of weeks back, we mentioned news of the closure of Girvan Horizons and that – in spite of the ‘hype’ around sector – many social enterprises are finding the climate very difficult. Unfortunately, news this week of another closure – with Darling’s Coffee Shop in Arbroath. Darling’s – run by Enable Scotland – provided training and employment opportunities for young people with learning disabilities. Despite strenuous efforts to find new partners/owners will be closing its doors in the near future. On a more positive note, a good news story about the emergence of a new social enterprise in Fife (Re-Employ) – following the closure of the Remploy operation in Cowdenbeath back in 2013.


Senscot’s AGM is next Friday – 4th March (10.30-1.30) – at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh. Discussion topic this year is – “What are the implications – challenges, opportunities and risks – for social enterprises and the third sector in playing an increasing role in public service delivery?” Speakers include Barry Knight from the Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Policy Ltd and Pauline Graham (Social Firms Scotland). To book your place – see Booking Form


This week’s bulletin re-visits a social enterprise in East Lothian – and SEEL member – that we first profiled back in July 2004.  The Prestoungrange Gothenburg – known as the Goth – is based in Prestonpans and as well as running a successful bistro, bar (with its own micro-brewery) and function suite – also acts as community hub that hosts a series of arts and cultural events and exhibitions. The Goth ‘principle’ is that 95% of profits are returned to the community of Prestonpans through the arts via the Prestoungrange Arts Festival. Their purpose is to research and communicate, in print and through the arts, the thousand year history of the Baronies of Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun and the ancient burgh of Prestonpans.


 “The simple idea of a social compact is required for civilised life.  If you are in serious need – I’ll rally to your side – and you’ll do the same for me.  This is the assumption that enables us to travel outside our tribe.  Without it, all life is brutal.”  This is a quote from the American writer/humourist Garrison Keillor – explaining 10 years ago why he is a Democrat rather than a Republican.  It also summarises beautifully why we should continue our efforts to create a Europe based on the stated values of the EU: The various treaties declare that the EU itself is "founded on the values of respect for human dignity,freedom, democracy, equality, therule of lawand respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities… "


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




Subscribe to this bulletin:


To unsubscribe or change subscription address/ e-mail


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