Senscot Bulletin: 26.04.19

Unpacking my shopping, I discover that the bags of ground coffee (two for £6) are whole coffee beans – so, the following week, I take them back. A smiling lady at the info desk tells me to just swap them – and tell the checkout not to charge – “that you’ve spoken to Angela.” Later, at the till, I do as instructed; the cashier smiles as though I’m kidding, says “I’m Angela who you spoke to.” I pretend I’m having a ‘senior’ moment – and we both laugh.

But this wasn’t actually senility, just another incidence of ‘face blindness’ which I’ve lived with all my life: doctors call it prosopagnosia – estimate that it affects 2% of people worldwide. The part of my brain that coordinates facial perception and memory is in some way impaired – mildly in my case – although Angela’s face was a total blank. This abnormality has brought me certain skills – like conversing with people who think I know who I’m talking to.

At a lunchtime ‘fundraiser’ last year, I listen for an hour to a concerned mother, whose 17-year-old, Rory, is exploring independence; as a former youth worker, I find this more interesting than small talk. Later that afternoon, I see the woman again, suggest something she could say to Rory – but the conversation gets confused. She says, “Can we start again? You’re Laurence, and I’m Marion; the woman next to you at lunch was my sister Helen – over there; the less I have to think about my nephew Rory, the better.” Prosopagnosia.



I’m satisfied, that if/when a majority of Scots want to leave the UK – that’s what will happen; but in spite of the dreadful Brexit mess, there has been no major shift of opinion – which is puzzling. I thought Nicola Sturgeon’s long-awaited statement to Parliament on Wednesday was both dignified and substantive: the BBC’s excellent Brian Taylor summarises. One senses the emergence of the notion of a ‘softer’ separation – something like a ‘federal UK’? The proposed Citizen’s Assembly is long overdue – I presume in multiple locations? There’s also a new offer of cross-party talks. This is a tweet from John Swinney: “Brexit has shown the need to change – now we must shape that change”. One senses a new reaching out.



“One of the distinguishing marks of a free society, is the vigour and abundance of voluntary action, undertaken by citizens, not under the direction of any authority wielding the power of the state”. (William Beveridge 1948). The independence of our third sector from domestic politics is fundamental – which is why I support the present calls for OSCR to be made accountable to Parliament, rather than the Scottish Govt. In response to the recent consultation, Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of SCVO, has intimated that Govt proposals are too timid – specifically that the charity regulator should be separated from Govt.



Starting on 15th April, Extinction Rebellion is the biggest civil disobedience event in recent British history – a campaign of mass, non-violent direct action – which has already seen the arrest of over 1000 climate change activists. Like William Beveridge (above), I count the vigour and abundance of voluntary action (including civil disobedience) as the mark of a healthy society – to be welcomed. What’s difficult to anticipate is where this movement goes now. If there’s any single event that would build the momentum of Extinction Rebellion – it would be Donald Trump arriving in London on a state visit – now announced!



Alex Massie, in the Spectator, writes that ‘we will never see the likes of Billy McNeill again’ – because what Celtic actually achieved in 1967 is no longer possible. The globalised commodification of sport has made the highest level of European football available only to the gilded few. In the removal of any ‘randomness’, something precious is lost.


Scottish football culture is mainly working-class; like Bill Shankly before him, Billy McNeill never forgot the politics of his background; this from his 2004 autobiography, “Hail Cesar”.


“Naturally, being brought up in a mining community, I inherited the politics of my parents and the community at large. Consequently, I have always been a socialist and continue to vote Labour. I may live in a beautiful home in an upmarket part of Glasgow, but I have never forgotten my working-class roots or lost sight of the fact that I was one of the lucky ones in life. I am deeply opposed to any form of exploitation, although I do believe in discipline, order, consideration of others and respect for people’s property.”


The first SE Action Plan Reference Sub-Group (2019/20) will take place in Glasgow on Thursday 6th June – this will follow Scottish Govt’s own Reference Group meeting, also in Glasgow, on 14th May –  see Highlight Report. The SE Action Plan Sub Group is hosted by Senscot, Social Firms Scotland and the Scottish Community Alliance and is an opportunity for frontline social enterprises and membership-led organisations to consider the progress and effectiveness of the Action Plan. Last year, three meetings were held – producing both a series of recommendations – as well as a SWOT Analysis on the Action Plan to date. Another three will be held this year – and will be particularly important in both evaluating the existing Action Plan, as well as looking to shape the next Action Plan – due to start in April 2020. More details soon.

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

The Social Enterprise Voluntary Code of Practice (SE Code) was set up in 2012 – setting a benchmark for how SEs identify one another in Scotland. This centres on the unequivocal affirmation of the defining characteristics – that SEs do not distribute dividends or private profit. With the Code now reaching the milestone of 1000 subscribers – we have decided to give the website a bit of a revamp – including a few ‘testimonial videos’ – which we’ll be adding to over the coming months. If you’ve got time – have a look.



Each year, thematic SENs focus on specific policy areas or activities in which SEN members are active. One of the Community Food SENs priority areas this year will be looking at the role and range of community cafes across the country – examining the issues of sustainability and the different business models being used. Examples of Community Food SEN members offering distinct services in the field include Kuche (see profile below) and Punjabi Junction which featured in the BBC series, ‘Walks of Life’ last Sunday. If you are interested in more info or to get involved, please contact



Dates for the Diary: Two events looming up that may be of interest to SEN members. On Monday (29th April), the Employability SEN meets in Glasgow, (10am to 1pm) – featuring speakers covering policy work, third sector representation within Govt’s Employability Division and a project aimed at improving employment outcomes for people with mental health problems in Fife.  More information and book here. The following week, Thurs 2nd May in Falkirk, P4P hosts an event with CVS Falkirk in advance of the Falkirk Employability Support Services framework publication – giving organisations an opportunity to network with potential partners as well as providing tips on how to submit a winning bid. Sign up here.



Reminder: The SE Census 2019 is now underway and Social Value Lab is asking folk to fill in their SE Census 2019 Survey. It’ll take 10/15 mins to fill in – but we’d ask that you spare a bit of time to do so. In order to build a consistent picture and observe the various trends across our sector – the more folk who fill it in the better. Your support in this is very much appreciated. All info treated in strictest confidence.



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise which creates food-led events, community dinners and multicultural catering in collaboration with people navigating the UK immigration system. Küche, based in Glasgow and Edinburgh, curates events which celebrate different cultural cuisines, bringing people together to open up conversations and help keep communities more socially and culturally informed. Küche also runs several community projects, including Kitchen on Prescription, a social prescribing offer of community cooking workshops, and Shared Space, a mixed-form arts company which engages with individuals affected by the UK immigration system. Some of Küche’s previous themed nights include Syrian Supper Club, Tapas and Storytelling, An Anti-Colonial Menu, and the Creolized Caribbean Kitchen.