Senscot Bulletin: 28.02.20

At a recent third sector seminar, a Govt spokesperson explains that our consistently high level of funding is ‘justified’ by the third sector’s impressive contribution to economic growth; this always makes me boil. I raise my hand – agree that Govt funding has been reliable – but strongly challenge his depiction of our sector in the context of economic growth. Our sector is the creation of 1.26 million ordinary citizens (28% of adults) – who volunteer millions of hours every day – to perform the tasks which make life worth living for many people; I’ve never heard anyone say they do this to bolster the economy. Their collective efforts have a far more fundamental impact on our way of life than boosting GDP ratings (What are they?).

In an important speech at the ‘Wellbeing Alliance Conference’ in January, Nicola Sturgeon told how Scotland is in the process of ‘redefining’ what it means to be a successful nation; that ‘quality of life’ should be as important as economic growth. Again, at SCVO’s ‘Gathering’ last week, she spoke of the critical role of the third sector in this ‘transitioning into a wellbeing economy’. As this theme gathers momentum, it will gradually change the way Govt relates to our sector. Across the country, many thousands of small, local organisations, who meet in the church/community hall – will cease being pestered to ‘go to scale’, ‘innovate’, ‘become investment ready’ etc. The health and happiness of citizens will gradually separate from the illusion of perpetual economic growth.


I often wonder, for how long, the exceptional Nicola Sturgeon will be able to keep going as our First Minister: sometimes she looks weary. Andrew Marr asked her this question on Sunday – she clearly had notice – gave a considered answer. She consciously visits her enthusiasm for the role; there are other things she wants to do with her life; she’s all right just now. I wonder if the SNP appreciate the star they have in Nicola; her cabinet makes it look like Lionel Messi playing for a mid-league Scottish team; with her, they get by – without her, relegation zone. Our public life seems so gloomy just now – or is it just me.


The Senscot archive has seven references which pay tribute, over the years, to Jean Vanier – and L’Arche communities which he founded; his insight, that living with the weakest and most excluded changes us. Everyone is now stunned by the revelation that Vanier was a sexual abuser of women – and it will take some time to react to these events – separate his abuse from the ongoing work of L’Arche.


I’ve never interacted with Amazon – not a conscious decision – I just like the idea of shops. Interesting ‘depth’ feature on the BBC website: ‘Why Amazon knows so much about you!’ The message is – that while they sell stuff – Amazon is really a multi-billion-dollar data machine – with long-term implications.


I can’t remember being so demoralised by Downing St. ‘guff’. A Scottish journalist whom I trust is Joyce McMillan – it helped to read her sharp analysis of Dominic Cummings manipulative news management. “The political right in the UK has moved to a place of deliberate, authoritarian disinformation”.


Jeff Bezos announced this week, on Instagram, that his 10 billion dollars Earth Fund will begin giving out grants next year. Meanwhile, Simon Jenkins posted a good piece in the Guardian – on why it’s not a good idea to leave it to billionaires like Bezos and Bloomberg to solve the world’s problems.


On TV, I saw a beautiful baby chimpanzee clinging to its mother – thought of this quote from the late Alice Miller’s ‘The Drama of the Gifted Child’?

“The drama is this. We came as infants ‘trailing clouds of glory,’ arriving from the farthest reaches of the universe, bringing with us appetites well preserved from our mammal inheritance, spontaneities wonderfully preserved from our 150,000 years of tree life, anger well-preserved from our 5,000 years of tribal life – in short, our 360-degree radiance – and we offered this gift to our parents. They didn’t want it. They wanted a nice girl or a nice boy. As children we did the only sensible thing we could – we constructed a personality more acceptable to our parents; the proper attitude to this drama is mourning.”

Senscot’s 20th AGM takes place next Friday, 6th March 2020 at the Grassmarket Centre in Edinburgh. The AGM will be following up on the resolution approved at last year’s AGM in May 2019 – as well as reflecting on the outcome of the SE Intermediary Review in which Senscot has been involved. Prior to the AGM, we are hosting a discussion/debate on issues of particular relevance to the frontline social enterprise community in Scotland – in partnership with Glasgow Caley’s Atlantic Social Lab. The theme of our discussion will be – ‘Sustaining a favourable climate for Scotland’s social enterprise sector – exploring the current climate for social enterprise in Scotland – and how it could look in 5 years’ time. Around 60 folk have signed up – but, with some call-offs expected, there is space for a few more. See –  Registration Form

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

This week, we welcome our new Sport SEN Co-ordinator – Jude Reid – to Senscot. Over the coming weeks, Jude will be making contact with Sport SEN members to introduce herself. You can contact Jude – here .


In recent years, DTA Scotland has been producing a very helpful and impressive infographic – capturing key areas of development trust (DT) activity across Scotland. Their Infographic 2019 shows not only the growth in development trust membership – but also the growth in other activities such as asset ownership, trading income etc. Highlights include, amongst others: over 300 development trusts (as of Feb 2020); over 53,000 DT members, £160m in owned assets; £30m earned through trading; and employing around 1400 people.


Following on from last week’s piece on the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) new Start-Up Plus Programme (Closing date – Wed 18th March 2020),  SSE this week announced that they are now also recruiting for their new Trade Up Programme – a free support programme to help grow your income and impact. The Trade-Up Programme offers a 14-day learning programme over 12 months; a £4k match-up grant; with a dedicated mentor also available. Closing date for applications is Thursday 30th April 2020.


Interesting blog from Martin Crewe (Director of Barnardo’s Scotland) following an event at SCVO’s Gathering last week. Martin’s blog suggests the third sector should consider developing a common set of values – that goes beyond individual organisations and could be reflected across the wider third sector.  The social enterprise community in Scotland went down this route in 2012 – establishing the Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprise in Scotland (The Code) to promote and protect the core values and behaviours of the SE sector in Scotland – and has now become accepted as the benchmark for SE in Scotland.


Frontline News: This week saw latest meeting of the SE Cross Party Working Group at the Scottish Parliament – on the theme ‘Building an Inclusive Economy – the role of social enterprise’. See Delegate list:

In spite of the ongoing uncertainties around funding, Fife SEN held another well-attended Winter Meeting this week at the Ecology Centre in Kinghorn. They have also taken the opportunity to revamp their website:

Another important AGM taking place next week will be that of Social Firms Scotland – which takes place on Thurs, 5th March 2020 (11am-1pm) at BTO Solicitors, St Vincent St, Glasgow. To book, see further details.


This week’s bulletin profiles a community interest company that provides photography and videos for social enterprises, charities and community sector clients. Open Aye was established in 2010 and specialises in creating visual stories that reflect social change – and show Scotland’s people, places, issues and solutions. During this time, it has run over 50 participatory photography projects – engaging with over 700 diverse communities. In 2018, Open Eye charted 10 years of social enterprise for the SE World Forum in Edinburgh in 2018 – and, last week, donated a series of images to the Glasgow Caley SE Collection.