Senscot Bulletin: 27.09.19

Dear members and friends,

No country person would plant a Scots Pine in the garden, because it’s a forest tree which grows to 100ft – but I didn’t know that ten years ago; our ‘prunus sylvestrus’ now towers 20ft – and sadly must go.  Because of old age, I intended getting help with its removal – till I read about a woman swimming the English Channel four times rapid! – about a 97-year-old who parachuted over Arnheim; if they can manage…

Saturday is a lovely sunny day – I’m out early with my new cordless reciprocating saw – rarin’ to go.  A well rigged tension-line brings the tree down where I intended (the only tricky bit) after that it’s only a matter of cutting and shifting it.  But I don’t allow for simple fatigue; an hour later I’m sitting exhausted – overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cuttings.  Neighbour Tom sees I’m struggling and rescues me – with his sharpened axe, he even cuts the roots and removes the tree stump.

Gardening has always been, for me, a solitary practice; Saturday’s ‘rescue’ only reinforces this. The garden is my private escape zone – where I become immersed – shaping my own wee imagined world.

There’s no ‘grand project’ – just a meandering journey – glimpses of soil and the soul – and bindweed. I sense my tree-felling days are done – that I need to be more realistic about what I can still manage alone.  Anyway, I’ve replaced the Scots Pine I killed, with a lovely Taxus Baccata, which only grows to six feet max, and seems to like it here.


The PM returned to the commons at 6.30pm on Wednesday – I watched him answer questions for three hours. Far from apologetic, his manner and choice of language was a ‘performance’, calculated to provoke maximum anger; we’re watching the highly skilled run-up to a People v Parliament general election. Wednesday gave me a first whiff of ‘danger’; Johnson’s seductive bluster has a new harder edge; the gloves are off; our PM no longer pretends to any national compromise – his personal ambition is hitched to victory for ‘leave anyhow’. Like Trump, his rhetoric incites populist unrest in our divided country. Speaker Bercow says that Wednesday evening was the most acrimonious session he can recall.


The Labour Conference vote, to end private schools, is a recurring topic which stimulates debate – but with little chance of ever happening.  7% of children are at private schools – their parents (the ruling class) have such a hold on power – law, politics, media, the city, everywhere – that elected govt. is scared of them.  Very different from the Blairites – the present Labour leadership proposes policies which will disrupt the settled life of our elite power groups.  Attending to the crisis of our poorest will, rightly, be the first priority; then we can start to dismantle the rigged educational citadel of the ruling class. See New Statesman’s take.


There is a growing consensus that free market global capitalism has not delivered – needs a reset; books appear with early sketches of what they call a ‘post-capitalist’ economy – where profit-seeking becomes increasingly subordinated to the common good. Research like the current SE in Scotland Census 2019 helps us monitor the momentum of this ‘social economy’ – discern its new direction.


At the end of 2020, up to 30,000 delegates are expected in Glasgow for the United Nations major climate change summit, cop26. I get a real lift from the energy and boldness of the climate movement – especially the young stars. Found this Naomi Klein interview helpful: the greatest USA taboo – to actually admit there are going to be limits. Also – note on origin of Green New Deal.


Let me finish with the words of Alan Bennet, from his already famous sermon last summer at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge:

“We all know that to educate not according to ability but according to the social situation of the parents is both wrong and a waste. Private education is not fair. Those who provide it know it. Those who pay for it know it. Those who have to sacrifice in order to purchase it know it. And those who receive it know it, or should. And if their education ends without it dawning on them, then that education has been wasted.

The Cross-Party Group on Social Enterprise took place in Edinburgh this week – on the subject of the SE Census 2019 and what it tells us about the make-up of the sector. Again, credit is due to Social Value Lab for another comprehensive piece of work. At around 80 pages, the Census is stacked with statistics to satisfy the most diligent observers of our sector – and everyone will have their own ‘most significant stats’. For our part – and the many in the sector with whom we engage – the 2019 Census, similar to the previous ones, reflects a diverse and resourceful sector providing vital services in communities across the country. It is also a fragile one – still facing considerable challenges. It’s important to acknowledge the many positive examples of development and growth that continue to emerge across the sector. However, if we are serious about genuine change and impact in local communities, future Action Plans need to be bolder – and ensure greater resources can be channelled down to a local level – in both rural and urban communities. Senscot, with others, has been and will continue to share feedback from frontline organisations with Scottish Govt.

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

We’re very pleased to announce that Cabinet Secretary, Aileen Campbell will be participating at our Conference on 25th /26th Nov at the Westerwood, near Cumbernauld. Jointly hosted with Social Firms Scotland and Scottish Community Alliance – our central theme will be ‘Building Community Wealth and Wellbeing – the Role for Social and Community Enterprise’. Keynote speakers, Neil McInroy (CLES) will explore the key principles of Community Wealth Building (CWB) – with North Ayrshire Council giving their own perspective as they pilot CWB in their area. The Draft Programme will continue to be updated in the weeks’ ahead. Places are filling up so, to avoid missing out, here’s the registration form.


An event that may be of interest to a number of readers will be the second UK event of the Engaged Journalism network – a European-wide initiative looking to accelerate and strengthen the spread of community-driven journalism and to help shape the growing community of engaged journalism practitioners. The event is free – and takes place at The Melting Pot studio @ The Crags Centre on Thursday, 10th Oct. The UK side of the network is hosted by Social Spider CIC, based in north London, which currently publishes three monthly community newspapers. See further details – or to register, contact


Senscot Legal publishes the latest in its series of popular blogs – on the topic: “Third Sector Legal Structures: A Guide”. This is the fourth in the current series which covers a range of issues relevant to social enterprises and the wider third sector. See previous blogs.


Frontline News: Congratulation to Grassmarket Community Project in winning UK Film Society Community Award 2019. For more on the benefits of community cinema – see Senscot Briefing;

Check out the new Just Enterprise website – including a helpful video giving the lowdown on its services.

Fife SEN holds its autumn gathering next Thursday 3rd Oct in Kirkaldy. See full details.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Elgin that was set up to support the work of the charity, the Elgin Youth Development Group (EYDG). EYDG was established in 1998 to provide young people in Moray with a place to meet and socialise. To support the wide range of programmes and activities it provides, they set up The Inkwell that, as well as hiring out meeting and event space, hosts a purpose-built community kitchen space that also offers outside catering services. All proceeds from the Inkwell go to support work with young people, helping to provide employment opportunities – and giving young people real work place skills in hospitality, administration, and youth work.