Senscot Bulletin: 26.10.18

Dear members and friends,

Humans haven’t evolved much over the last 30,000 years – we have essentially the same brain and body as the time when our ancestors invented language, tools, culture, religion etc. Evolutionary psychologists reckon that homo sapiens is evolved (hardwired) – each of us to be able to know around 150 people: equivalent of the extended tribe, on whom, for millennia, our survival and welfare depended. But modern technology means that we can encounter 150 people in minutes; some say that our 30,000-year-old ‘hardware’ is incapable of running 21st century ‘software’ – that this ‘sensory overload’ will move humankind further along the autistic spectrum – I suppose this is possible.

With the same omnipotence, every age of human history seems to have believed, like us, that it was special – hatching something new – a game changer; I still favour the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun.” The ‘new thing’ of our time, the internet, may threaten sensory overload – but I’m quietly optimistic; if we can keep it from the robber barons – this tool will potentially connect ‘ordinary people’ worldwide, to share their ‘common sense’; the people themselves – not ‘rulers’ – becoming the guardians of our world.

This week, in our garden centre café, old Tommy fell off his chair – was immediately surrounded by folk helping him back up. Kindness is a ‘default’ response of homo sapiens – which I don’t believe has changed in 30,000 years. Power to the people.



I’ve been alert this week to the US-bound migrant ‘caravan’ – moving slowly, from central America, through Mexico; harrowing glimpses of desperate families, fleeing the poverty, gang violence, and collapsed civil society of their homelands. For me, this event symbolises the failure of the global economy to create a stable order – where there is ‘enough’ for everyone to live a decent life. Whatever happens to these particular marchers, there is a law of equilibrium/balance – eventually the oppressed rise up. Most threatened must be the super-rich; the ‘system’ which sustains them, depends on the ‘huddled masses’ being too demoralised to do anything much. The BBC says that Trump’s warnings of terrorist infiltration are nonsense.



In bed with a chest infection – thoughts stray to Pedro’s beach restaurant nr. Estepona – sunlight, surf, simple grilled ‘Rosada’ with mixed salad; this leads to a Guardian piece exploring why Spain is on course to have the highest average life expectancy in the world (85.8 years). The article gives proportionate weight to diet, healthcare, genetics etc – but this observation nails it for me: ‘Like other Mediterranean countries, Spain really values family richness; the bonds and closeness of family’. I don’t know why, or how – but Spanish family life is like ours used to be. Less difficult childhood experiences (ACEs) = longer life.



I’m constantly ‘lifted’ by stories of ‘community action’; one journalist on this wavelength is Lesley Riddoch – who dedicates a regular column to the community sector. This one is about the campaign of folk in Portpatrick – to purchase and improve their harbour – develop the local economy: uplifting.



Community action, led by local people, can’t prosper without a healthy next tier: our municipalities – but a centralising Holyrood treats them badly. Thank heavens for the Greens – who, alone, take local democracy seriously. Pushback also from Alison Evison of COSLA – fighting talk at her first Conference.


The poem ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou (1928-2014) is a kind of universal anthem for the oppressed and downtrodden; no matter the cruelty and circumstance – the victim will rise up; it’s almost triumphant. Nelson Mandela read this poem at his inauguration. The ending:


“Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise – Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise – I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide – Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise – Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise – Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise, I rise, I rise.”

Yesterday, Community Enterprise and the Social Audit Network hosted a debate in Edinburgh, titled – ‘Social Impact in Scotland – What’s the point?’. There were contributions from a number of the current ‘players’ in the ‘social value/impact’ field – considering how our sector can evidence, articulate and promote what we do – to better effect. After years of social audits, SROI and other models, we have yet to settle on an approach that has general support across the wider third sector in Scotland. There was an acknowledgement that such discussions have been going on for decades – without any progress on an agreed ‘model’- and that this was likely to always be the case. If anything, the sense was that organisations need to record in a simple manner not just what they do – but why they do it – and not to over-complicate things. Going forward, for information, Community Enterprise will be the main point of contact for the Social Audit Network in Scotland.

Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding


Last year, Scottish Councils agreed that 1% of budgets will be subject to participatory budgeting (PB) by the end of 2021- circa £100m – giving communities greater say on how funds are spent in their areas. This week, the PB Festival has been taking place via a series of events across the country. Here’s a clip of Cabinet Secretary, Aileen Campbell, talking about the importance of the PB Charter at an event in Edinburgh.



This week’s Audit Scotland Report that the NHS in Scotland is neither financially sustainable nor able to meet its targets must be a concern to us all. Aside from the political point-scoring that will inevitably take place, the real question is whether or not we, as tax-payers, are prepared to pay more to ensure we have a health and social care system which meets our future needs and aspirations. Recent polls suggest we are – but which political party will be brave enough to implement this?



Our old friend, Alastair Wilson, CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) has long advocated that wholly sustainable social enterprises are a myth – and that grant funding is and will continue to be an important and legitimate source of revenue for the vast majority of social enterprises. That is not to say that Alastair feels that social enterprises should not be seeking to increase their percentage of trading revenue. To demonstrate his point, SSE has, with Lloyds Banking Group and the BIG Lottery, developed a new funding model that seeks to match pound-for-pound increases in income from trading. This article explains more.



Date for your diary: North Ayrshire Social Enterprise Conference takes place on the 7th Nov at Fullerton Connexions in Irvine. Attendees will get an overview of the North Ayrshire SE Strategy launched in 2016; information on both local and national support opportunities; a showcase session on local social enterprises; info on procurement and community benefit opportunities; as well as the chance to participate in interactive discussion. More information and registration here.



This week’s bulletin profiles a Sport SEN member, based in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, that has created a community-owned and managed facility in the town. Visions Leisure Centre was opened in 2004 – after the local community spent seven years raising funds for a swimming pool and gym complex in the town. They were determined to develop their own facility not just for Cumnock residents but for those living in nearby towns and villages. In 2008, an extension was built – doubling the size of the gym and also including a spa area. Visions Leisure has been supported by a number of funders that have included East Ayrshire Council, sportscotland amongst others – as well as by local businesses and the local community itself.