Senscot Bulletin: 28.09.18

Dear members and friends,

I increasingly find myself ‘tinkering’ with versions of my past life – but I also think this is very normal: if old people are to avoid a bleak ending – we need to find a story about our lives we can live with – which coveys some sense of coherence and wholeness.  Some believe that we are, each of us, born with a unique destiny – a ‘life-purpose’ set within us – an ‘intended’ personality awaiting discovery.  While I could draw comfort from such ‘intent’ – I can’t quite believe it.

In one of the best-known verses in Spanish poetry, Antonio Machado nails it for me: “Caminante no hay camino – se hace camino al andar” – “Wayfarer there is no way – you make the way as you go”.  The poet is saying that, regardless of our circumstances – our family, our upbringing, our religion, whatever – we are responsible for the path we take through life – and the footprints we leave behind.  This sounds harsh, and we can plead all kinds of mitigation – but it’s the only possible starting point.

When I’m reflecting on my younger life, I’m most embarrassed by former ‘certainties’ – memories of ‘hostilities’ between the ‘goodies’ and the ‘baddies’.  With the years, ‘certainty’ recedes; rather than take sides, these days, I ask whither the opposing forces might be reconciled – to work together.  On Sunday I watched Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed by Andrew Marr – a rare display of compassionate statesmanship; like a grown-up among squabbling children.  I wonder if destiny is considering a wee job for Jezza.



From conference reaction to Keir Starmer’s speech it looks like the majority of Labour members and voters favour the abandonment of Brexit – certainly they want full participation in the European Single Market; even Jeremy Corbyn now endorsing a second referendum. His preferred choice is still a General Election this winter, and his conference speech outlined the most radical Labour Manifesto since Attlee’s post-war revolution This ‘calling out’ of free market neoliberalism, the ‘greed is good’ capitalism of Thatcher and Blair, is long overdue; what’s not to like about ending austerity for the poorest – massive investments in childcare and green energy etc. Some say the UK electorate is not ready for such dramatic change; I say let’s ask them. Financial Times Editorial.



The multi-billion dealings of Fox, Sky, Comcast etc are beyond me – but I do understand, that as the drama of the Ryder Cup unfolds this weekend, I’ll be following it on the radio – one of the majority who are financially excluded from TV coverage.  I’m protesting, once again, the commercial ‘enclosure’ of what was free to all citizens – part of ‘the commons’.  Michael Sandel writes “Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life” (see end piece).  It is a sign of our times that people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives.



This wee film from the Isle of Eigg lifted my spirits (7 minute Vimeo clip) – especially the smiling contribution of young Sarah Boden (cattle and sheep farmer); the secure tenure of her house and being part of community decision-making are what attracts her to island life. Our Scottish Govt has commendably high aspirations to double the land in community ownership by 2020 – and this now includes urban settings. (Here Lesley Riddoch tells the amazing story of West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative) The film clip ends with Peter Peacock connecting us to the Land Rights Now campaign – the struggles of indigenous peoples across the world for ownership of the land they live and work on.



This is the closing passage of Michael Sandel’s book ‘What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets’.


“Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life.  What matters is that people of different backgrounds and social positions encounter one another, and bump against one another, in the course of everyday life.  For this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences, and how we come to care for the common good.  And so, in the end, the question of markets is really a question about how we want to live together.  Do we want a society where everything is up for sale?  Or are there certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honor and money cannot buy?”


This week, we publish the latest and 11th in our series of Senscot Briefings – ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing: the role of social enterprise’. Poor mental health and significant health inequalities are amongst our most important public health challenges. Scottish Govt’s 2017-27 Mental Health Strategy recognises mental health as being as serious an issue as physical health – and advocates a preventative and early intervention approach – recognising the broad range of factors required to collectively improve wellbeing.  Scottish Govt has identified ‘A Scotland where we have good mental wellbeing’ as one of six priorities with public health reform. This requires a ‘whole system’ approach as a key principle underpinning the reform programme – recognising the need for closer collaboration across the ‘whole system’ of partners and organisations – public sector, third sector, social enterprise and beyond. This Briefing aims to highlight the existing contribution of social enterprise to improvements in mental health & wellbeing – and some of the challenges faced. Included are short case studies on Crisis Counselling; MHScot Workplace Wellbeing; and MsMissMrs.

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

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding

The third SE Ref Sub-Group will take place in Inverness on Thursday 25th October in the MacLean Room at Eden Court – following earlier meetings in Glasgow (March) and Edinburgh (June). Those meetings considered specific elements within the SE Action Plan – Business Support; Social Investment; SE Intermediary Review; and SE Branding – identifying specific recommendations. The Agenda at the Inverness meeting will include a ’half-time report’ on the Action Plan to date – and also look at the challenges in ensuring full and fair access to in-depth support for those outwith the central belt.



Community Shares Scotland’s autumn newsletter provides an update of current activity – with a number of local campaigns having successfully reached their respective targets. These include Dunshalt in Fife raising £30k for their community shop; Oban Community Trust raising over £200k for the Rockfield Centre; and North Uist Energy well on its way to achieving its target of £350k. Since its formation in 2014, Community Shares Scotland has supported 22 successful campaigns – raising over £10 million. See interactive map.



Lingo Flamingo this week announced the launch of its very first language ‘nest’ in Shawlands, Glasgow (opening 15th October) – offering foreign language classes for both adults and children. Profits will go directly towards free language classes for older adults in care homes in the city. See classes available – and, to get the ball rolling, a 15% discount is available for SEN and Senscot members. Gracias y Felicidades!!



Date for your Diary: The Ferret is hosting its Autumn Conference 2018 at Strathclyde University on 8th/9th Dec 2018. The event – Creating the Media that Scotland Deserves – has a range of prices but is great value at £90 for the two days.



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that works with people with special needs and/or disabilities to help them participate more equally within their wider community. Watch US Grow – based in Cumbernauld – works with students in its organic garden – with the aim of building employability skills amongst their students. Although the garden is an important part of its focus, Watch US Grow also offers volunteering opportunities, social enterprise activities, arts and crafts, Keep Fit classes, social events, and day respite opportunities. In December 2016, they opened a second venture in Falkirk – Baby Steps – which provides the whole range of baby equipment – providing further employment opportunities for their students.