Senscot Bulletin: 28.10.16

Dear members and friends,
Sometimes I find it helpful to distinguish between the outer world of things, events, other people – and the inner world of my own private consciousness; our human experience feels like a constant attempt to reconcile outer and inner – to find a balance that works for us.  By choice and philosophy, I’d prefer to be going in the direction of the outer world – we’re all in this together – interdependent; but that’s not what’s happening.  The energy which drove me to set up new projects (a lifetime of them) has quietened now.  In recent (sober) years I’ve felt the attraction of solitude and reflection – to become more comfortable with my inner terrain: emotions, values, imagination, intuition etc.  It’s probably a ‘stage of life’ thing – I feel less ‘bullied’ by the external world.
            On Sunday I collect my newspapers from the village shop as usual – but then, on a whim, point the car for East Lothian – the memory, perhaps, of many golfing years at Kilspindie?  It’s a good hour’s drive – and then I walk for an hour on the little known beach of Aberlady Bay – then I head for lunch in the clubhouse.  Delighted to find four of my former cronies in the bar; when Tom, who used to be my partner, gives me a lovely hug, I feel quite emotional; great blether ensues.  I enjoy living in quiet solitude – but, driving home on Sunday, I reflected again– that it’s only in the precarious outer world of other people – that our deepest human need can be met: ‘to feel ourselves beloved on the earth’.


With regard to our national politics, a familiar feeling of powerlessness returns. The Brexit vote confirmed clear differences in outlook between Scotland and England – but has not brought a popular clamour for independence – not yet anyway. The Brexit negotiations could take years to unfold – we Scots find ourselves in an impossible position. Kenny MacAskill doesn’t come across as particularly ‘simpatico’ (too sour) but his piece in the Times about the ‘federal option’ – as a staging post to independence – may be a way to clear the log jam. It could bring Scotland together – for an option which is achievable.


Robin Hodgson is a Conservative life peer with forty years in investment banking; he has recently called for a rethink of ‘how charities and charitable status fit into modern society’.  One of his points – that some charities are simply too big – is easy to agree with: in what sense is the British Council – with an annual income of £797m – a charity?  But is it not bizarre – that the future of the third sector is under consideration by ennobled, millionaire investment bankers – has our realm been colonised by the City of London?


The main problem with renewable energy generation – solar, wind etc – is that it responds to the weather rather than consumer demand: the future of this sector awaits the arrival of industrial scale batteries.  The wind turbines on the island of Gigha (the Dancing Ladies) are to be connected to a ‘vanadium radox flow battery’ (the size of shipping container).  This govt. funded trial will determine whether or not this branch of the technology has reached commercial viability; this will obviously have significant implications for the global green energy industry.


For the last ten years, Islabikes has gained a cherished reputation building and selling high quality children’s bikes – ergonomically designed to fit children’s bodies.  The company founder, Isla Rowntree is putting in place a new business model which will see children’s bikes rented for as long as they match a child – and their returned to the factory for refit and reuse.  The Imagine Project is a recognition that we are plundering the limited resources of our planet – an example of the ‘circular economy’.


Good Herald piece by Green MSP Andy Wightman – about Scotland’s missing tier of local democracy; like Senscot, the Greens believe that the best democratic decisions are taken by the people who are most exposed to their effects.  The Scottish Govt’s menu of titbits, of what it considers ‘community empowerment,’ are in Wightman’s words, ‘voluntary and partial’; proper local governance needs to be ‘statutory and universal’.  The Greens are best qualified to lead a govt. Commission into the shape and form of local power structures.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Social Enterprise Academy, Community Justice Scotland, New Tannahill Centre Ltd (NTC LTD), Capability Scotland, Scottish Maritime Sailing Trust, Re-Union Canal Boats Ltd
EVENTS: Portobello market, 05 Nov; Community Learning Exchange, 07 Nov; Free community shares training, 15 Nov; Glasgow Soup Crowdfunding Dinner, 17 Nov; Keep it local; Strength in numbers, 23 Nov
TENDERS: Partners for Dundee Employability Pipeline – Wise Group, National Third Sector Funding (Highlands & Islands only) – SDS, ESF Programme – Big Lottery Scotland, ESF Employability Projects ll – Midlothian Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS) hosted their two-day Annual Conference for Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs) this week – with a full house. Having gone through an evaluation process this year (due to be published in the new year), the event focussed on the future – and how Interfaces – working with others – can better serve their respective communities. Senscot led a workshop on the SE Strategy and how it could affect the work of the Interfaces. Differing views were expressed but it was clear that an opportunity now exists to ensure a more coherent approach at a local level.


Places are filling up for the “Keep it local; Strength in numbers” event at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh on Wed 23rd Nov. Senscot is hosting the event in partnership with Social Firms Scotland, Community Enterprise, the Scottish Community Alliance – and sponsored by RBS. Cabinet Sec, Angela Constance, has been invited to begin proceedings – sharing her reflections on our forthcoming SE Strategy. The theme for the day will explore how – through greater collaboration – the contribution of SEs in local communities can be strengthened. Here’s more info on the breakout sessions. A drinks reception and dinner will round off the day. Places still available for another 20-odd folk. To book, see booking form


Congratulations to the Big Issue Magazine on its 25th anniversary. Senscot was founded in the slipstream of Tricia Hughes and Mel Young’s Big Issue in Scotland. Here, founder and first editor, John Bird, gives the background story on a publishing revolution, charting the challenges of the early years.


SCRT has now been formally on the go for just over 18 months. It was set up with the intention of harnessing the financial resources of Scotland’s third sector with a view, in time, for the sector to play a greater role in investing in its own future. Over the coming months, SCRT will be working with partners in the sector to developa series of Community Re-investment Models on a national; thematic; and geographical basis. For more, contact . Also, see SCRT’s October bulletin.


We are currently in the middle of the ‘awards season’ with various SEs and others in the mix for awards from the Aviva Community Fund; RBS Skills and Opportunities Fund; and, of course, the SES Awards. Best of luck to all competitors – you’ll recognise some familiar names. Still on SES, they have recently commissioned Community Enterprise to carry out a survey a membership review to a) to build membership; and b) to see what folk expect from a ‘national body’. There are three short surveys for current members; lapsed members; and for those who have never been members.


Every now and then, we re-visit profiles from a few years back. This week – since it’s ‘awards season’ – we re-visit a profile from a few months back. This is because Remade in Edinburgh and The Edinburgh Remakery founder, Sophie Unwin, is short-listed for the Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneur of the Year award –  the only one from Scotland. Remade in Edinburgh teaches repair skills and campaigns for zero waste. The Edinburgh Remakery – its centre in Leith – runs workshops and sell quality affordable refurbished goods. Voting closes today – 28th Oct – this is your last chance to vote for Sophie. See article.


This quote, from the Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell, dates from before 1910 – but is depressingly apt today. The remarkable story of this classic text is traced here by Howard Brenton


"The papers they read were filled with vague and alarming accounts of the quantities of foreign merchandise imported into this country, the enormous number of aliens constantly arriving, and their destitute conditions, how they lived, the crimes they committed, and the injury they did to British trade. These were the seeds which, cunningly sown in their minds, cause to grow up within them a bitter undiscriminating hatred of foreigners".



That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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