Senscot Bulletin 27.07.18

Dear members and friends,

I’ve always enjoyed ‘start-ups’ – and have contributed (a guess) to around 50 over 50 years; funding came from a variety of sources – but the theme of ‘combating poverty’ would cover most. An impressive 18-month study by Liverpool University (120,000 calculations) has just revealed that 59 of the 100 most deprived housing estates in the UK – are in Scotland; most are the very places we’ve targeted over the past 50 years. The truth is we don’t know what to do about poverty – no strategy.

The ‘new’ community work profession I entered in the early 1970s never really found a credible identity; it shouldn’t have adopted that unintelligible academic jargon; it shouldn’t have located itself in local govt – now an ‘easy cut’ from shrinking Council budgets. The young Glasgow writer Darren McGarvey makes some painful, but acute, observations about Scotland’s ‘poverty industry’: ‘dominated by a left-leaning, liberal middle class who are often surprised by the anger of locals who perceive them as chancers or careerists’.

I don’t know how many billions have been spent in my lifetime, on programmes to combat poverty – for so little understanding of the problem. On the other hand, the advances of neuroscience – the influence of early care on infant brain development – offer an obvious way forward. Starting again, I’d want to specialise in how to impart confidence and optimism to wee people – to serve as a template for their lives. I suspect deeply ingrained poverty is not primarily about money – (a typical liberal, middle class observation).


Seeing no prospect of a deal, I think I’ve given up on Brexit; it looks like we’re going over the cliff. I’m no fan of Henry Kissinger, but was struck by something he said in a recent interview about ‘the Donald’. “Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretences”. I hope he’s wrong, but if our ‘rule-based’ world order is to disappear – it’s because the grievance from flaunted inequality has allowed the ‘disruptors’ to take control. In both the UK and USA, the path back to ‘the way it was’ becomes ever more difficult.


That RBS decided to abandon dozens of Scottish towns shows conclusively that we’ve lost the banking industry to crude mercenaries. Momentum is building around the idea of ‘unbanked’ rural towns, simply creating a generic ‘community hub’ on their High St. – where a banking franchise would operate alongside a range of other essential civic services. This article in CommonSpace says that a company called Contis has agreed in principle to provide the banking franchise element of these hubs – and that fundraising is underway to launch a 12-branch pilot of this concept.


One of Senscot’s recurring themes is to champion the value of small, locally owned, community enterprises – where the staff, volunteers, customers and trustees are all local residents: numbered in thousands, these enterprises represent a significant ‘sleeping’ asset. Public sector commissioners favour big, well known service providers – with multiple branch offices; they don’t have local knowledge or relationships – but all the correct protocols are perceived to be ‘safe’. This is a case study of Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing (SCHW) where 74 community-led partner organisations have formed a consortium – to bring a new level of contract within their reach.


Ursula Le Guin again; this glimpse of a beautiful 580 word excerpt from ‘the magic of real human conversation’. I loved it.

“Every act of communication is an act of tremendous courage in which we give ourselves over to two parallel possibilities: the possibility of planting into another mind a seed sprouted in ours and watching it blossom into a breathtaking flower of mutual understanding; and the possibility of being wholly misunderstood, reduced to a withering weed… Yet something impels us to hold these possibilities in both hands and go on surrendering to the beauty and terror of conversation, that ancient and abiding human gift. And the most magical thing, the most sacred thing, is that whichever the outcome, we end up changing one another”.


What Works Scotland is a wide-ranging partnership  set up to explore how local communities in Scotland use evidence to make decisions to improve public service development and reformIt produced a recent report specifically looking at community anchor organisations and public service reform – illustrating the role of development trusts and community-controlled housing associations as key elements of this sector. As part of Senscot’s contribution to the report, we wanted to highlight the role and contribution being made by community enterprises (and SEN members) in this field – notably in health and social care initiatives. This contribution has been and continues to be the focus of our Senscot Briefings – covering areas such as social prescribing; loneliness and social isolation; dementia; and diet and obesity. Following on from this, Senscot was invited to contribute a blog-piece giving some context and background to the work of SEN members in this area – including some developments that will, hopefully, contribute to enhancing this contribution.

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

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding

The second SE Reference Sub-Group was held on 27th June at the Charteris Centre in Edinburgh. Around 30 front-line social enterprises and membership-led organisations gathered to reflect on the progress of the SE Action Plan and, specifically, to discuss the future of the Social Growth Fund (up for renewal in April 2019) and the scheduled SE Intermediary Review. The inaugural meeting in March agreed on five recommendations. June’s meeting identified another five recommendations to be taken to Govt for further discussion. They include re-introducing a blended grant/loan approach via the Social Growth Fund; establishing a bespoke fund for loans under £20k; addressing the ongoing disconnect between national and local activity; progressing with the SE Intermediary Review; and re-naming the Sub-Group to more accurately reflect its longer-term importance.


P4P welcomes Clare McLaughlin to the team this week – bringing it back up to full capacity. P4P is now in its second year – providing support to social enterprises and third sector organisations to increase access to public procurement and other contracting opportunities. Part of this work includes a series of events hosted or attended by P4P. One for your diary over the next week or so is a joint event between North Ayrshire SEN (NASEN) and North Ayrshire Council. Clare can be contacted at


Reminder: If you are in or around Edinburgh this weekend, Edinburgh Social Enterprise (ESE) will be hosting the 2018 ‘Social in the Gardens’ in Princes St Gardens. The event runs over two days – Friday and Saturday –  and will be offering live music, a wide selection of food and drink, market stalls, art installations, kids activities and a family ceilidh – not to mention the opportunity to engage with a diverse selection of Edinburgh’s social enterprises and social entrepreneurs. See details and programme.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new member of the Health SEN that seeks to offers a range of innovative and relevant educational support services with a view to improving the health and well-being of men in Scotland. Menself+ is the brain child of Jim Malcolmson who originally got the idea of improving the health and well-being of men in Scotland hatched while living abroad in Australia. Menself+ is now made up of a team of four building a programme reaching out to all men in Scotland. Menself + will travel all over Scotland and consider any event where men are present!