Senscot Bulletin: 29.03.18

Dear members and friends,

Raymond Chandler (the Big Sleep) wrote somewhere that Dashiell Hammett (the Maltese Falcon) could write scenes which were beyond the capability of others.  Chandler’s observation set me thinking – led me to acknowledge that there are stories from my own life that I am unable to tell – and wonder why.  My conclusion is, that until I have worked out who I was in any story, I’m stuck; firstly, I need to agree (with myself) a ‘viewpoint’.

A good example of this, is an episode in my late twenties – spent on the streets of North Edinburgh as a detached youth worker; I feel very remote from that experience.  I have painful ‘memory fragments’ of myself as a Christian missionary – trying to ‘convert’ people – even memories of regarding violent gang members as warriors against injustice; I was adrift.  During later years, at the front line, I worked with a wide range of colleagues: Christian evangelists, Marxist comrades, compassionate humanists etc – ordinary decent folk; we shared a slow anger at the injustice of poverty – shared a general unease at being only visitors (tourists) among real suffering.

The only ‘lesson’ I would seek to pass on to younger colleagues, from my early experience – is to avoid becoming a ‘detached’ worker – unless you are securely ‘attached’ to competent professional or personal ‘supervision’.  The extreme behaviour of people struggling to survive – combined with your own unexamined distortions – can easily cause you to lose your way – become stranded without a ‘viewpoint’ – as I did.



I tell everyone – I’m a keen supporter of Jeremy Corbyn; at a personal level, it’s his simple humanity – the easy way he talks to people in the street – his lack of media savvy – his allotment. As a politician, he leads a social movement which aims to redress the shameful inequality between the average citizen and the UK’s privileged elite – and they’re scared; the weekly attacks on him area positive sign. I’ve not even considered that Jezza is anti-Semitic – next week it will be something else. These are Noam Chomsky’s thoughts: “I get called anything, I’m accused of everything you can dream of: being a Communist propagandist, being a Nazi propagandist, a pawn of freedom of speech, an anti-Semite, liar, whatever you want. Actually, I think it’s all a good sign. I mean, if you’re a dissident, typically you’re ignored. If you can’t be ignored, and you can’t be answered, you’re vilified – that’s obvious: no institution is going help people undermine it.”



“It used to be a benign social network – but somewhere down the line, Facebook turned into a greedy unscrupulous corporation – selling our souls to the highest bidder”. This from a strong piece by Iain MacWhirter – which calls Facebook, Google and Amazon – ‘the robber barons of the modern age’. We live, not only in a market economy, but increasingly in a market society – where commercial interests distort how we live together – everything for sale. Perhaps more than any other – the issue of who owns our personal data, defines the conflict between profit and the common good.



In its current ‘programme’, the Scottish Govt. sets out the expectation for the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) ‘to review the unusually concentrated pattern of land ownership in Scotland, and its potential impact on the public interest’. SCL has launched its call for people to submit evidence, with the publication of an independent discussions paper from Peter Peacock – an expert in this field. Among the possible solutions he mentions are a land value tax, and imposing an absolute limit on the size of individual land holdings. Loud protests can be expected. This is a blog from land commissioner Dr Sally Reynolds.



Like myself, the Scottish Greens want to decentralise Scottish Govt. by empowering local democracy; their strategy includes the replacement of present Council Tax, with a proportionally fairer, locally controlled property tax. The Greens hold the balance of power in our hung parliament, and have told the SNP that future budget support depends on significant progress in this matter by this summer.



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

JOBS: Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust, The Ridge, Gorebridge Community Development Trust, Southern Uplands Partnership, Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust, The Melting Pot, The Salisbury Centre, SCIO

EVENTS: Easter Guided Glen Walk, 01 Apr; Social Prescribing and Links Worker Event, 09 Apr; Kilmartin Glen Guided Walk, 11 Apr; Preparing for Investment – Kirkwall, 17 Apr; GDPR Training, 17 Apr

TENDERS: Same Day Courier Services – The City of Edinburgh Council, Research into Public Sector Procurement Opportunities – P4P, Occupational Health Services for Students –  West of Scotland Uni


The SENs Weekly Update: This week sees our 8th – and final – SE Briefings of 2017/18. This month’s theme is ‘Community Tourism – the role of social enterprise’ – and is part of a series of Senscot Briefings which aim to showcase the approach that social enterprise is taking to address a range of complex social issues

across Scotland. This month’s Briefing will explore how bringing local people and businesses together with third sector partners can help increase both visitor numbers and the quality of visitor experience – to the benefit of the local community. By encouraging local communities to take ownership of tourism in their area can help preserve historic and cultural heritage, improve management of land and assets for community use, encourage the development of new business opportunities, and improve the quality of services. This month the Briefing includes a case study on Dornoch CIC as well as a spotlight on accessible tourism through Euan’s Guide.



Last week’s piece on Michael Sheen and his End High Cost Credit Alliance prompted this response from Declan Jones (Glasgow Caley) highlighting a contradiction within our social economy sector. Whilst there appears to be widespread support for the Credit Union movement – the reality is that relatively few follow this up by taking out membership. Maybe a gentle reminder that we’re all quite good at ‘talking the talk’.



Assist Social Capital, this month, launched its OASIIS Biennial Report on the impact of social entrepreneurship in the World Network of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. There are currently 669 biosphere reserves, covering 120 different countries – with around 250 million people living in them. Yet not many people have heard of them, which might be because it’s quite hard for people to see how local communities can benefit by being part of one. This report offers an insight into how social enterprises change this perception by helping to sustain the natural environment, while providing much needed jobs in communities at risk from the challenges facing our planet and, at the same time, protecting it for future generations.



The fact that Scotland has amongst the worst drug and alcohol problems in Europe is well known – so it was good to hear last week of the opening of Scotland’s first ever long-term “drug rehabilitation village”, based near Ayr. The River Garden (Auchincruive) is a ground-breaking residential project to help those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. The project, operated by Independence (IFDAS), will operate as a social enterprise where the community will grow food to supply an onsite shop and café, and run a bakery.

River Garden will initially provide accommodation, training and support for up to 40 former addicts who will live there for up to three years. The project takes its lead from similar initiatives across the world – such as San Patrignano (Italy), Basta (Sweden), and Delancey Street (USA).



This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow-based theatre company whose mission is to use the arts to inspire and encourage social awareness and responsibility. Baldy Bane Theatre Company was established back in 1991 and, over the years, have developed a broad range of partners that have included Scottish Govt, NHS Scotland, Police Scotland and Zero Tolerance.  Working together, they have produced dramas on issues such as bullying, gender based violence, knife crime, abuse in teenage relationships and internet safety among many others. They also facilitate training and workshops through the tool of role-play and forum theatre – taking place in schools, workplaces, colleges, conferences. Baldy Bane secured charitable status in 2015.


During this long winter, I found myself wondering if Spring would return my energy for the garden – but I needn’t have worried; sunshine on Sunday flipped a switch – and I was out dispensing TLC on my very poorly lawn. Well clad, I sat for periods in full sunshine – feeling something of what Mary Oliver describes in her poem The Sun.


” …….. and have you ever felt for anything such wild love – do you think there is anywhere, in any language, a word billowing enough for the pleasure that fills you, as the sun reaches out, as it warms you as you stand there, empty-handed – or have you too turned from this world – or have you too gone crazy for power, for things?”


That’s all for this week.


Best wishes,




Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210