Senscot Bulletin: 28.07.17

Dear members and friends,
My cottage is full of the scent of sweet peas – beautiful pastel shades this year.  Once again, I’m taken aback by the sheer abundance of vegetation in my garden – flowering shrubs elbowing for space.  From nearby woods, a copse of Ash trees continually sends seedlings – which I uproot; but admiring their perseverance, I’ve allowed three to take root – now about four feet high.  The Common Ash is a full forest tree which grows up to forty metres – so my indulgence is not very sensible.  Life force.
            We can bring plants to our gardens – or banish them; we can decide what goes where; we can enrich and water the soil – but we cannot know all the influences or conditions that are at work.  The ‘intelligence of life’, the pattern of growth, the weather – are all beyond our control; yet we play our part.  Like our work with people – we try to create the conditions for healthy life – knowing that outcomes are determined by factors we’ll never understand.
            My bench in sunshine – butterflies in the Buddleia – I reflect on what it will feel like when I’m old; then, with a smile, I realise that I’m already old – this, now, is what it feels like.  Next year – perhaps the year after – I may not cultivate a garden – but the ‘intelligence of life’ will not notice; the Common Ash (fraxinus excelsior) will still be sending out its winged seeds.  There is consolation in the inexorable continuity of the life force: the Tao Te Ching: the Way and the power of the Way.


The SNP has flagged-up a September plan to "reform" govt. – which in Kevin McKenna’s words “could be more accurately described as a mild recalibration – a series of cosy, risk-averse initiatives; what you’d expect from a centrist govt. with a good heart but which doesn’t want to get its hands dirty". Having spent some years in denial – I now accept that Nicola’s team has neither the wit nor the will to address the root causes of deprivation in Scotland’s poorest neighbourhoods. Jeremy Corbyn is the main, unknown, ‘future factor’; the hapless Kezia will soon be replaced by a Corbynite and we’ll see more of him up here; if he becomes PM, SNP is open to challenge from the left. But many say that the decomposition of Scottish Labour is too advanced.


Fees introduced four years ago – for those bringing employment tribunal claims – have been ruled illegal by the Supreme Court. The fees, of between £390 and £1200, resulted in a 79% drop in tribunal cases – because many low-paid workers couldn’t afford to uphold their employment rights; the fees were widely condemned. The Supreme Court found this week – based firmly on British constitutional law – that the UK govt. has acted beyond powers granted it by Parliament. Darren Newman is an employment law expert and writer; in his excellent blog,he calls this the biggest single victory in the history of employment law.


Years ago, I met the late Colin Macleod and Gehan at Galgael in Glasgow’s Govan – and ever since have kept a special regard for their work. When you’ve worked with people on the very edge of society – you can tell on entering a space how much it is attuned to ‘marginal’ people; I find Galgael exceptional. On Monday, a hundred invited guests attended their 20th birthday celebration at the CCA in Sauchiehall St: great talks by Harry Burns, John Carnochan etc – which you can hear/see on this Livestream. Galgael used the occasion to adopt this Charter – their vision, values, mission going forward – for the next 20 years?


If I was a young man, I’d be very drawn to get directly involved in the potential community buyout of the island of Ulva; 4,600 acres, just off Mull, it once had over 500 inhabitants. Is this not what the essence of the Land Reform movement is about – an island owned by its inhabitants – building housing stock to let – creating jobs and a local economy – attracting families who want a level of shared living – that would be for me. There’s the small matter of the £4.25m asking price – and the discretionary power of Scottish govt. to treat this as a late application. I’ll be watching what happens with this one. Here’s some additional info’ from this week’s Scottish Community Alliance Briefings.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust, SURF – Scotland’s Regeneration Forum, DTA Scotland, Wester Loch Ewe Trust, With Kids, Social Investment Scotland, Social Enterprise Academy
EVENTS: Social in the Gardens, 02 Aug; Fife Soup 1, 01 Sep; Friday Night is Bistro Night, 01 Sep; DTA Scotland Annual Conference & AGM 2017, 04 Sep; Pop-up-Cafe Lunch, 05 Sep
TENDERS: Operation of the Cafeteria within Dollan Aqua Centre, East Kilbride – South Lanarkshire Council, Salary Sacrifice Cycle to Work Scheme – City of Edinburgh Council, Positive Emotional Wellbeing Support Service – Scottish Borders Council. Join Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: As Edinburgh limbers up for its Fringe Festival 2017, Edinburgh Social Enterprise’s Social in the Gardens 2017 will help everyone get into the swing of things – with a vibrant convergence of Scotland’s SE scene. #SitG17 takes place on 2nd and 3rd August at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens, with over 260 SEs in attendance, showcasing the best of Scotland’s social economy. As well as stalls selling arts, crafts and jewellery – and a street food and drinks market to keep you going through the day – there will be a series of activities – including a ceilidh –  as well as kids’ entertainment available all day. The Met Office even promises a spot of sunshine, so nae excuses!


Scotland’s social enterprise (SE) strategy, co-produced by both our sector and our govt. – affirms SE as an asset-locked third sector activity (the Code); but it also positions SE as part of a wider movement which includes mission-led, socially responsible businesses – which take private profit. Alistair Davis, CEO of SIS, appealed this week for more help for this ‘mission-led/profit for purpose’ model – and Senscot would like to add our goodwill for the spread of this distinct but compatible activity. Cliff Prior, CEO of Big Society Capital put it well when talking about ‘profit for purpose’ in 2015: "We are very careful not to dilute the distinct place of the social enterprise brand – which is why we apply different titles; we are not saying this is part of social enterprise – it’s a different thing”.


Firstport, last week, announced the appointment of its new Chair, Peter Shakeshaft. Peter replaces Martin Dorchester who steps down after a successful four-year tenure. Set up in 2007, Firstport combined the services, at the time, of Scotland UnLtd and the Senscot Exchange – and was led during its early years by founding chair, Barry Ayre. Over the years, it has cemented its place as Scotland’s national development agency for start-up social entrepreneurs and social enterprises – giving out almost £4m to around 700 awardees. We wish Peter the very best of luck in his new role.


The Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) Conference is one of the main fixtures in our calendar and takes place this year on 3rd and 4th September – again at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld. This year’s theme is ‘It’s All About People’. See programme and booking form. DTAS had further good news this week with confirmation of a further three years funding (£800k) for their hugely successful Community Shares Scotland Programme. More next week.


A couple of months ago, we highlighted the fact that Community Enterprise has, this year, been celebrating its 30th anniversary. One of its subsidiaries – BOLD Marketing – is also reaching a significant milestone, having been trading now for 5 years. At the time, BOLD was the only social enterprise in Scotland delivering high quality branding and marketing to the third sector. BOLD is now undergoing a ‘re-structuring’ over the summer – with future plans being announced very soon.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise that has the aim of helping disabled and/or disadvantaged individuals into employment within the financial services sector. Eskimo – set up as a CIC – is working in partnership with leading financial services companies and third sector organisations to provide a 12-month training course that will lead to a formal qualification through the Chartered Insurance Institute. Initially, Eskimo is running courses in Edinburgh and Glasgow but intends to extend these across the UK over the next 18/24 months. Application forms for the Edinburgh and Glasgow courses are now available.


Charles Eisenstein is an American teacher, speaker and writer whose focus includes human cultural evolution; he teaches around Thich Nhat Hahn’s beautiful concept of Interbeing. Here’s an uplifting burst of optimism.


"Amid all the doom-laden exhortations to change our ways, let us remember that we are striving to create a more beautiful world, and not sustain the current one. We are not just seeking to survive. We are not just facing doom; we are facing a glorious possibility. We are offering people not a world of less, not a world of sacrifice, not a world where you are just going to have to enjoy less and suffer more – no, we are offering a world of more beauty, more joy, more connection, more love, more fulfilment, more exuberance, more leisure, more music, more dancing, and more celebration. The most inspiring glimpses you’ve ever had about what life can be – that is what we are offering."  – Charles Eisenstein


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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