Senscot Bulletin 29.05.15

 Dear members and friends,

            Strolling around the shops in Spain last week in a wee town called Pueblo Nuevo Guadiaro; come upon a bench with a sign ‘free books’ – a few dozen mainly English titles; good rake for half an hour – select 3 – go in to say thanks. The shop is called ‘the Chalk Room’ – chat to an English mother and daughter team – upcycling old wooden furniture – retailing a specialist product called chalk paint – which they describe glowingly. The unmistakeable feel of a social enterprise – kind of community hub – food collection for the homeless etc – great feel.
            A core part of Senscot’s mission for 15 years has been the promotion of social enterprise; it is pleasing to see how it has progressed – how it becomes increasingly ‘normal’.  Like this Chalk Room, more people are making lifestyle decisions – devising ways to earn a living enjoyably, generously.  Together, these individuals and their businesses define an economy where people come first; earning less money, is balanced against the value of working at what you enjoy; market values balanced against human values.
            Later, arrive at my hotel (room 358) tired and fully laden – but my keycard won’t work; leave all my books and stuff outside the door – trudge down to reception – card reactivated.  This time door opens – but all my stuff has vanished – so trudge back to reception to tell them.  An hour later, housekeeping reports a pile of books outside room 158 – I must have been on the wrong floor!  All this cold sober; starting to lose it.
This week’s Queen’s Speech confirmed what we feared – that the Tories consider they have a mandate for more austerity. The intended reduction in Welfare of £12bn – is so dire that the Tory Ministers dare not say where the axe will fall. The promise to eliminate the deficit from spending cuts alone, means that some public services – notably those delivered by Local Govt – will simply cease to exist. In this context – recent research by the Glasgow Centre of Population Health (GCPH) is urgently relevant: their survey of 73 Glasgow third sector organisations (163 workers) – found that they are beginning to struggle – due to a combination of reduced funding and increased demand. Our third sector workforce – manning the frontline – needs to keep Holyrood Committees aware of where systems aren’t coping.


Before the general election, the Labour party – in the person of Chi Onwurah – promised to define social enterprise – once and for all; remember thinking – don’t go there.  Sam Burne James, in the Third Sector returns to this theme; he reprises all the difficulties – concedes that it won’t be a high priority for the Tories – but still argues that the third sector would benefit from “the creation of a statutory concept of what social enterprise means”.  There is a drift in Scotland towards various ‘hybrid’ forms of enterprise; essentially private businesses – with strong social purpose; lots of good energy.  The position of Govt (UK and Scottish) is pretty consistent; if you want fiscal benefits – grants, tax concessions etc. – you need to be asset locked – like a charity.  If you’re going it alone – it’s no-one’s business but yours.


Opinions vary as to whether the Labour party in Scotland is going through a bad patch – or whether its decline is terminal; the Holyrood elections next year will make this clearer.  Kevin McKenna’s piece this week offers some candid pointers on what they might do – I like this one: “Impose an immediate ban on any Labour member becoming a member of the House of Lords.  Don’t they know how absurd and unedifying it is to see places such as Cardowan, Cummnock and Port Ellen associated with a bastion of unearned privilege and wealth through the political avarice of a few old grandees?”

Such is the power of global corporations – that it is becoming almost a ‘quaint’ idea – that world governance should be entrusted to organisations like the United Nations.  Apple’s profit last year of 39 billion dollars is greater than the economy of some small countries.  This article from the USA suggest that it is more effective for direct action by citizens to be aimed at the abuses of corporation – which are reputationally sensitive – and which make the real decisions rather than politicians.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. This week:
JOBS: Rape Crisis Centre, Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust, RAMH, Dundee Social Enterprise Network, Glasgow Bike Station, Faith in the Community, New Caledonian Woodlands
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 6 Jun; Wild Food Forage, 7 Jun; B Corp for Lunch Edinburgh, 9 Jun; Bill W and Dr Bob, 14 Jun; Citizen Wellbeing Assembly Scotland, 25 Jun;
TENDERS: 2 Year Old Early Learning and Childcare 2015/2016 – Moray Council, Board Good Governance Workshops – Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Future Saltire Development – Scottish Government and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Yesterday, Dundee SEN (DSEN) held its AGM. As one of the country’s most mature  social enterprise networks, DSEN now has over 40 members; employing over 500 people; with a combined turnover of approx. £17m. It has also been involved in a number of local initiatives both with the local authorities and others.  One of their latest ventures will bring together a range of organisations and individuals to explore how SE can play an increasing role in shaping the way that health and social care services are planned and delivered within the city – including integration, SDS and social prescribing. This ‘pilot’ will kick off with an event on 4th June which will be followed with a study visit to Healthy Options in Argyll and Bute as part of Senscot’s Health and Social Care Transition Project. More next week. If you’re interested in finding out, contact Mary. See more.

The Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015 is now in its final stages. So far, around 1000 SEs have filled in the survey – with info’ on another 3000 also being accessed. They are particularly keen to reach smaller social/community enterprises who may be ‘under the radar’ but whom, we guess, make up a large part of our sector. Final report will be available later in the summer but headline figures will be announced at the up-and-coming SE Summit in Inverness on 10th June. If you have the time, your participation is appreciated.

SCRT 4th monthly e-bulletin came out this week – and includes articles on SIS’ new Community Capital Fund; SCVO’s bank comparisons table; and a call for greater transparency at Big Society Capital. Since the last e-bulletin, SCRT has seen its membership increase significantly (now over 120 third sector orgs) and has also introduced a new associate membership category.

When Edinburgh Council closed the Crags Sports Centre – it was successfully re-opened by a community based SCIO; this group has now assembled a proposal to re-open the once-loved Engine Shed which recently lost its funding.  With strong input from local people – and the involvement of several food-based social enterprises – the proposal is for a ‘community food hub’ called St Leonards Yard.  It is intended as a facility the community can get involved with – based around a shared love of local food.

Scottish Govt, this week, announced another £700k of funding to 26 community organisations as part of the Strengthening Communities Programme (SCP). SCP – a partnership including Scottish Government, Scottish Community Development Centre, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS), Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS) and the Carnegie UK Trust – supports community-based organisations that are delivering economic and regeneration benefits to their areas by refurbishing disused buildings, developing renewable energy projects and creating jobs opportunities.  

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise café in Glasgow that, as well as offering quality food and drink in pleasant surroundings will also offer work experience to asylum seeker and refugee women living in the city. Milk, based in Victoria Road (Southside), will provide the women with skills to help them integrate into their new lives, as well as improving their job prospects for the future. In time, Milk hopes to grow and work with other groups in Glasgow who are also attempting to further the opportunities of ethnic minority women. Milk is also running a crowd-funding campaign to raise £10k in order to purchase some core equipment (raising over £8k so far). Milk opens for business on Saturday, 6th June. Good luck!

Niels Bhor (1885-1962) was an eminent Danish physicist and Nobel Prize winner – he was also a wise philosopher.

“I myself find the division of the world into an objective and a subjective side much too arbitrary. The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. And splitting this reality into an objective and a. subjective side won’t get us very far………… We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections………. Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question”.


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,