Senscot Bulletin: 27.11.15

Dear members and friends,

Painter in my house all last week – chaos; moving stuff put my back out – very painful. My composure is so fragile – a week in survival mode; and I thought of Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was an American psychologist who believed that people have an inborn desire to be all they can be; he coined the term ‘self-actualised’. His hierarchy theory suggest that we are motivated to fulfil primary needs – before moving on to more advanced ones. He identifies five groups of needs in order of priority: 1) Basic physiological – food, sleep, sex etc: 2) Security – physical safety, income, healthcare etc: 3) Social – belonging, family, friends etc: 4) Esteem – self-respect, status etc: 5) Personal fulfilment – self-actualisation, transcendence etc. Primary needs always demand priority – where my head was much of last week.

Maslow’s Humanist school of psychology shifts the emphasis from all that can go wrong with the human mind (illness) – to the other end of the spectrum – those extraordinary individuals whose lives demonstrate the fulfilment of potential. Through biographical analysis of people like Einstein, Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt etc – Maslow speculates on the characteristics shared by people of great accomplishment.

In recent decades, the influence of Buddhism has greatly increased our understanding of the human potential for transcendence. Buddhists would say that if any of us ever ‘come to see things as they truly are’ – we will by then have no interest in how we compare to anyone else. Seems that ‘enlightenment’ only visits those who no longer strive for it; such is the Way.


I watched the Chancellor’s spending review speech on Wednesday and in presentational terms it was masterful; he claimed to have found £27 billion somewhere – kept unwrapping wee Xmas presents – to howls of Tory delight. But showbiz aside, the prospects are stark; under Margaret Thatcher, the ‘state, was 46% of GDP – this Govt wants to shrink public spending to 36%; but I’m not convinced that the British public will allow this – when they see what it means. The Scottish budget has been cut again – and, on 16th December, John Swinney will spell out what this means. The Scottish Govt’s ‘no bad news’ style has the air of unreality and needs to change. We need some grown up hard talking. The Conversation website reliably offers informed and independent comments.


The influential law firm Brodies LLP has indicated the likelihood of legal battles over proposals in Scotland’s Land Reform Bill which interfere with private property rights.  Land Reform expert Andy Wightman responded: “Of course many measures interfere with property rights – this wouldn’t be land reform if they didn’t.”  Good piece in Common Space.  The SNP membership at its recent conference referred back the drafted measures as too timid; the Green Party are more reliably committed to radical reform.  (Wightman is no. 2 on the Green Party’s list for Lothian)


The recent SE Censusshows that the Scottish social enterprise community sits quite contentedly in our third sector (by and large); in the London village however the landscape is complicated by an expanding range of hybrid, quasi-commercial operations.  As CEO of UnLtd, Cliff Prior has been a prominent sponsor of ‘profit with purpose’ hybrids – and it has been announced that he is to take over at Big Society Capital.  In this recent interview he says some interesting things – including that ‘profit with purpose’ is not part of social enterprise – “it’s a different thing”.  I think this is an important distinction, because the constant worry is that the new hybrids are damaging brand identity. Rodney Stares who was Senscot’s nominee to the UnLtd board, has strong views on this issue.


Another of the Chancellor’s ‘U-turns’ seems to be around funding to the Big Lottery. In spite of recent stories of a 40% cut, BIG Lottery (Scotland) announced yesterday the launch of their new round of funding – £250m over the next five years – backed up by a more straightforward application process. Their focus will be: ‘to work with communities and organisations to support activity which is people centred, strengths based and has good local connection’.


For practitioners of localism and sustainable local economics – community energy projects have been a major potential source of long term revenue.  But it could hardly have been a worse year for this sector – following a range of damaging blows from Westminster.  These include: ending pre-accreditation (an agreed price for electricity; ending tax breaks for investors; dwindling Ofgem tariffs.  Lesley Riddoch outlines the unhelpful climate for local activists – and asks whither its ‘lights out’ for community energy projects.


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

JOBS: Community Land Scotland, Kirkconnel and Kelloholm Development Trust, Glasgow Wood Recycling, Crossreach, The Power Station, Whitecross, CVS Inverclyde, Social Enterprise Academy

EVENTS:Investing in Social Capital – a better way of investing in our communities, 1st Dec; Story Café – Crime Fiction Special – Women Only, 3rd Dec;  Portobello Market at Christmas,5 Dec; "Aladdin", 21 Dec;

TENDERS: Counselling & Therapy Framework – Aberdeenshire Council, Quality of Life in Later Years – Voices of Older People in Scotland Research Project, Care at Home – East Renfrewshire Council, Employability Fund for 2016-17 – Skills Development Scotland and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  The SE Vision document, we hope, will help inform Scottish Govt on the direction of travel for our SE community over the years ahead as they plan a refreshed Govt Third Sector Strategy to be published in spring 2016. The document, firstly circulated earlier this year, continues to get refined – in view of the findings of the recent SE Census as well as a result of further consultations and feedback. The most recent example of this has been through a couple of sessions at this month’s SE Conference and Ceilidh – with further feedback being received. In addition to this, Social Enterprise Scotland, in preparation for next year’s elections, are putting together a Social Enterprise Manifesto and are inviting SEs to fill in their short survey (just 10 questions) – For the Good of Everyone.


Since its launch, Senscot has subscribed to The National daily newspaper – which is now one year old. Compared The Herald at 34,000 and The Scotsman at 24,000 – The National shifts a respectable 17,000 copies – and is still improving. It needs to get a bit more objective; like the SNP Govt itself, too much bad news is avoided – too populist. This piece from Saturday’s Herald – criticising the performance of key Scottish ministers – would not be carried by The National. Whilst it’s great to have a Scottish daily, free from relentless neo-liberal propaganda – it needs to be robust.


Following last weeks’ successful event in Edinburgh, this month’s SCRT Bulletin provides links to Conference presentations as well as other social finance stories including: a distinct Scottish regulation system for fundraising; ‘profit with purpose’ organisations; and the re-branding of CDFA as Responsible Finance.


Senscot attended Social Firms Scotland’s 15TH Birthday ‘Bash’ at Oran Mor in Glasgow on Tuesday – which included presentations from a number of their members and partners. The event also heard from Cabinet Secretary, Alex Neill who lauded the work of SFS in championing those who often find it most difficult to secure worthwhile employment. The statistics are pretty stark: 14% of people with learning difficulties in employment; 79% of people with long-term mental ill-health are unemployed; and only 27% of offenders move into employment on leaving prison. See SFS’ full report – Supporting Businesses to Transform Lives.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise, established to use the power of relationships with horses to support learning, health and enjoyment in people of all abilities. Equi-Power, based in the Stirling area, aims to offer services across Central Scotland from a new base in Stirling. The new Centre will provide facilities for disabled children and adults to develop skills, meet new people, gain confidence and have fun. Equi-Power works closely with the UK Charity – Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) in their Scottish centres at Equibuddy in the Borders and Shiresmill in Fife.


This is extracted from a short (one page) essay by Pablo Neruda called Toward an Impure Poetry.

            “Let that be the poetry we search for: worn with the hand’s obligations, as by acids, steeped in sweat and in smoke, smelling of lilies and urine, spattered diversely by the trades that we live by, inside the law or beyond it.  A poetry impure as the clothing we wear, or our bodies, soup-stained, soiled with our shameful behaviour, our wrinkles and vigils and dreams, observations and prophecies, declarations of loathing and love, idylls and beasts, the shocks of encounter, political loyalties, denials and doubts, affirmations and taxes.”  See full text here.

That’s all for this week.    

Best wishes,


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