Senscot Bulletin 27.02.15

Dear members and friends,


Internationally, media outlets are mostly owned by the same tiny elite that owns everything else – as their means of exercising power and influence. Collectively, they are able to ensure that national conversations are conducted in terms most favourable to themselves – the creed of unfettered markets. Here in the UK – even at the BBC – neoliberalism is the assumed orthodoxy – the starting point of all conversation.
            No one questions that a free press is essential for healthy democracy – that it requires protection both from the state and from market encroachments. Last week Peter Oborne left the Daily Telegraph – saying it had purged its coverage of HSBC’s role in tax evasion- because of advertising. For some of us, this again raises the question – are there certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honour – which require different, more accountable, ownership.
            Due to the foresight of its founder CP Scott, the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian Media Group has been secured in perpetuity by a Trust. The Scott Trust is essentially a social enterprise: a business which operates for public benefit – and which re-invests any profit towards its embedded social purpose. Here is Scotland there is a growing ‘skunner’ towards the ‘money scramble’ culture – which relentlessly commercialises our shared common world. The Guardian’s social enterprise model has exciting potential for large sections of our economy – particularly the health and social care sectors. But the very idea of a system which excludes profit distribution – is fiercely resisted by the marketeers – who control our national conversation.


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 (now at 80). Senscot’s board is elected by and is accountable to these members. 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 more (final two weeks).


At the defining heart of the third sector is ‘voluntary action undertaken by citizens not under the direction of any authority wielding the power of the state’. The 1948 Beveridge report called our work ‘one of the distinguishing marks of a free society’. It was with real disappointment that I read this week of OSCR’s endorsement of ALEOs. These Arms Length External Organisations – according to our charity regulator – are operating with ‘sufficient independence’ to justify charitable status. See more. Some of us think not – that their separation from local govt is mostly cosmetic – for accounting convenience. The third sector (the realm of the citizen) has a distinct history, identity and purpose. See more .The public sector has its own proud traditions and ethos. With both the public and private sectors ‘measuring’ our space, we need decisive and clear regulation.


Thoughtful interview with Nicola Sturgeon in which she shares her vision for the third sector; she has clearly experienced first-hand the value of our work partnering the NHS and Councils delivering frontline services; she anticipates that this will grow. Senscot encounters a variety of views on contracted service delivery. There is strong support for the local by default’ campaign – resistance to big national agencies. But there is also concern that the contracts are eroding the independence of our sector – reducing the freedom to protest.


The Tory stronghold of Northamptonshire County Council- offers a salutary insight into where the right wing would take local government; the full council has approved plans under which all frontline services will be commissioned from external organisations. The authority wants council staff to ‘spin out’ and set up mutuals, CICs and social enterprises from which it can commission services. To some in the third sector this may appear superficially attractive – but procurement legislation will require these contracts to be retendered – opening them to ‘the wrecking crew’ Serco etc. See more.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: The Law Society of Scotland, Hearts & Minds Ltd, The Equality Network, Rape & Abuse Support, Turning Point Scotland, Scottish Prison Service, RAMH, Action for Children, Balerno Village Trust
EVENTS: Cost & Pricing, 3 Mar; Community Lands and Buildings Seminar, 6 Mar; Portobello Market, m7 Mar; Participatory Leadership Training, 8 Mar; Introduction to Market Research, 8 Mar;
TENDERS: : New Furniture – Cumbrae House; Skate Park, Inverkeithing – Fife Council; Invitation to tender for an EIA of the Annual Girvan Folk Festival; sportscotland – National Centre Inverclyde – a fully inclusive Facility; Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline.  Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Since 2011, the Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) programme has helped create nearly 5,500 jobs across our third sector. This week, at ‘The Gathering’, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that the Scottish Government is to invest an additional £6m that could lead to the creation of a further 1,000 jobs for young unemployed people over the coming year. As well as the opportunities that have been created for young people in Scotland, the CJS Programme has also been of significant benefit to a great many SEN members – who will welcome this latest announcement. The programme, itself, is managed by SCVO, see more. For further info’ on the new round of jobs, keep an eye onCommunity Jobs Scotland.
For more, see this week’s SENs News.


One of the consistently reliable sources of information and commentary that I connect with, is the New Start digital magazine; since 1999, they genuinely understand and promote localism. Their current themed monthly is dedicated to an examination of how ‘systems theory’ can inform our work – my interest in this subject is growing. I particularly enjoyed the editor, Clare Goff’s piece about creating ‘human centred’ systems. See more.


10pm on BBC2 this evening (Friday) – a film about William McIlvanney called Living with Words – it surely deserved more than half an hour. I’m a devoted fan – not only of his writing – but of the warm humanity of this man – and his vision for Scotland. He represents for me – and for many thousands – the ideal of an egalitarian and independent Scotland. Iconic. See more.


Last week I watched Scotland’s only chief constable being questioned by a committee of MSPs – it left me uneasy. Stephen House has introduced significant new practices without adequate consultation with either the public or the Scottish Police Authority. He appears to be a person of high self-regard who considers his actions beyond parliamentary challenge. So far Police Scotland looks like a mistake; as the Sunday Herald said – either the chief constable changes his approach – or he must be replaced. See more


I was a community development worker in Edinburgh’s Wester Hailes for 14 years – and for most of that period Malcolm Rifkind was our member of parliament. At a time when he’s being pelted with rotten tomatoes – I would like to place on record that he was the most helpful constituency MP that I’ve ever worked with. With local people he was accessible, affable, intelligent, effective; one of the very best.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, serving the whole of the UK, that operates an employment website matching people with disabilities with employment opportunities. Evenbreak – run by disabled people, for disabled people – has three specific aims: to help inclusive employers attract more talented disabled people; to help disabled jobseekers find work with employers who will value their skills; and, to promote the business benefits of employing disabled people. Evenbreak is keen to promote a positive image of disabled people in employment – with surplus income funding positive publicity campaigns promoting the benefits of employing people with disabilities. See more


This is extracted from an inspirational piece by Nick Andrews of Co-production Wales.


"At the heart of co-production, is an understanding that everyone has something to contribute and that exchanging these contributions is enriching for everyone concerned. I am reminded of the work of Jean Vanier, who established the L’Arche Communities in learning disability services. Vanier did not see his role as caring for people with learning difficulties, but rather sharing his life with them and being open to receive and learn from them as much as to offer them support.  Vanier once said, ‘I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes’. This is an important message for social care practitioners and agencies. We need to open our ears, our eyes and our hearts to the people we work with, which might involve sharing our vulnerabilities and concerns and allowing ourselves to be changed by genuinely ‘meeting’ with them in truly co-productive relationships."


See full article



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