Senscot Bulletin: 26.05.17

Dear members and friends,

At Xmas in TK Maxx – on impulse I purchased a double mirror – true image on one side, 10x magnification on the reverse; don’t get one! – it exaggerates every blemish on your face – I look grotesque.  In a similar manner, there’s a prism in my mind which activates without warning – and which accentuates all the negatives in my world; it’s like falling down a trapdoor into a dark place.  I habitually used alcohol to lift these moods – now I just stay down; they seldom last more than a few days.
            Over the years I’ve come to realise that the only light which enters the dark place comes from love; either a memory – or some gracious loving behaviour in the present; those moments when we touch each other – the most powerful we’ll ever know.  The only real regret I have is that I so often failed my friends – allowed other ‘big things’ to edge them out; if only, at the time, I’d been more aware how much I cared about certain people – been able to tell them.
            The last time I saw my dad alive was in 1988 in Italy; he was the age I am now though much diminished by a stroke; died within 18 months. He didn’t have much religion; instead a keen sense – and stoic acceptance – of life’s inherent absurdity; his self-effacing smile conveyed sardonic humour.  As we were parting he got a bit upset – then quickly his trademark smile – determined, courageous; and I remember, at that moment, I nearly said I loved him.


There is horror and sadness all across the UK after the Manchester bombing; the bereaved families – the damage to hundreds of children and young people who have seen ruinous sights.  With solidarity from across the land – the people of Manchester respond in defiant unity; their everyday acts of courage and compassion remind us of what it means to be human. This piece in the Independent (by Dr Katherine Brown, a lecturer in Islamic radicalisation) says that by quashing public gatherings – terrorists seek to destroy our social fabric; that public demonstrations of plurality and frivolity, like pop concerts, are important bulwarks against totalitarian ideologies.  Manchester will carry on being Manchester.


Reading the Road to Somewhere by David Goodheart – a disconcerting book which argues that Britain has split into two tribes: the Anywheres (about 25% of population) have been to yooni, are socially mobile, creative, doing well, voted remain: the Somewheres (about 50% of population) tend to live and die where they were born, less well educated, poorer, traditionalist, alarmed by rapid change like immigration.  The book is an illuminating insight into the new populism.
            In a short piece for BuzzFeed news – Maurice Glasman (remember the Blue Tory guy?) takes a very similar line; he endorses the split between educational winners and losers, but the shock of Brexit – when the ‘losers’ won – changed everything.  Glasman’s piece argues that it’s the Tory manifesto which responds best to the new political order: free markets and selfish individualism have been quickly replaced by the common good which govt. can accomplish


The General election will deliver two distinct results: in Scotland, Ruth Davidson’s party to challenging Nicola Surgeon’s on the issue of Scottish independence; how many of its 56 MPs will the SNP retain?  How widespread is the Scottish Tory recovery?  In England Theresa May is doing her best to scupper her anticipated landslide; at once wobbly and strident – she doesn’t look the part; whilst Jeremy Corbyn – to media consternation – looks increasingly relaxed.  I’m of the view that electorates are far more intelligent than press barons assume – fascinated by what they will both deliver. David Torrance comments.


I have long considered that some form of universal basic income (UBI) will become inevitable – as automation and the ‘gig’ economy continue to alter work patterns; it was pleasing to see this week that the Green manifesto included a commitment to work towards an initial govt. sponsored pilot – like the one in Finland.  This recent Observer article looks in more details at the Finnish pilot – and some of the difficult controversial issues it raises. 


The Charity Finance Group is an influential English umbrella group; while it has no presence in Scotland its retiring chair raised an issue which has equal, urgent relevance up here: he claimed that the contracting environment – chasing contracts – has made charities more timid – dulled our appetite to speak the truth to power.  The voluntary action of citizens – not under the direction of any authority wielding the power of the state – is one of the distinguishing marks of a free society.  As our sector becomes increasingly co-opted into delivering statutory services – its value to democracy reduces.  The Scottish sector is also in denial of this issue.


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


JOBS: Social Enterprise Academy, Scottish Waterways Trust, Shettleston Housing Association, The Ecology Centre, Glasgow Watersports, Pilton Community Health Project, Timespan Museum and Arts


EVENTS: Supporting Communities Through Social Enterprise: Bringing Your Ideas To Life, 1 Jun; June Bistro Night @ The Larder, 2 Jun; Portobello Market, 3 Jun; Breathing Space Callander 10k, 5 Jun;


TENDERS: Interpretive Interactives for HES – Historic Environment Scotland; Accommodation Based Housing Support Services – North Lanarkshire Council; Keys to Employment – Scottish Borders Council and more.  Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENS Weekly Update: As part of our work on a Feasibility Study into the Italian Consortia Model and the lessons we can learn from it, Senscot spent a couple of days visiting Milan – seeing how things work first-hand. The visit was about learning how social co-operatives – through working together – have grown over the last thirty years and are now the major deliverer of social care services in cities like Milan and Bologna. Their Consortia Model was established in 1988 and has benefitted, in particular, from two specific pieces of legislation: Strategic commissioning of services by local authorities – as opposed to putting out tenders; and the introduction of enforceable quotas for the employment of the disadvantaged or disabled people. Over the coming weeks – as part of our Study – Community Enterprise will be delving deeper into this topic with SEN members themselves.


Enjoyed this Carolyn Leckie article in the National, about how isolated areas of Scotland – like Achiltibuie – are increasingly creating their own development vehicles to get things done. Our local government structures, she says, are rooted in a different century; for the past 43 years, including 17 years of devolution, they’ve gotten bigger and more dysfunctional. Leckie offers the startling example of Slovenia – an EU country smaller than the Highland Council area – which has 211 elected municipalities with extensive devolved powers. I find the SNP’s determination to ignore this problem bewildering.


The whole pensions industry is in disarray because we’re all living longer than we were meant to. Advances in medicine will continue; a gradual shortening of the working week; the introduction of a universal basic income – they’ll all result in increased leisure, which will itself cause new collective social behaviour. An interesting early adaptation is the spreading men’s sheds movement. A report from Age Scotland calculates they are in touch with 101 sheds; this short BBC article gives a flavour from some of the participants of the effect it has on their lives: “my wife first got me involved”.


Every now and then, we re-visit an organisation profiled in previous bulletins. This week that enterprise is Yipworld– first ‘profiled’ in 2003. Yipworld, based in Cumnock in Ayrshire, was set up in 2000 a youth organisation to supports young people in Cumnock and the surrounding areas with their personal, social, academic and professional development. The Yipworld Centre has developed over the years and now has a wealth of resources including an all-weather artificial pitch, a commercial recording studio, an IT suite including Macs, PCs and games consoles, kitchen and dining area and a recreation room with pool tables and games. The programmes at Yipworld is constantly changing and evolving to include programmes such as life skills classes, sport-based courses etc – ensuring there’s always something for everyone.


George Carlin (1937-2008) is widely regarded as one of the USA’s most influential, countercultural, stand up comedians.


‘The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes a lot of your time. And what do we get at the end of it? Death! What’s that…a bonus? I think the life cycle is backwards. You should die first and get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young. You get your first gold watch. You go to work. You work forty years or until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol – you party. You get ready for High School. You go to Grade School. You go back into the womb spend 9 months floating… and finish off as an orgasm!’


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