Senscot Bulletin 29.06.18

Dear members and friends,

Edinburgh’s George St, doing some shopping; I’ve walked a bit too far – tired; enter self-service coffee bar. First, I drop one of two packages; then my tray, with coffee and muffin, cowps; then I drop other package and walking stick; then tray hits the deck – total meltdown! People are so kind; strangers get me sat down – collect my stuff – another coffee etc. In truth, I’m not much distressed by this incident – part of my mind was amused – watching this old guy dropping everything; If my luck holds – I assume I’ve still got some running time. But, as a culture, I’ve been thinking that we need to get a lot braver about discussing ‘end of life’ scenarios – including ‘assistance to die’ for those living with insufferable pain.

Older readers, familiar with the evolution of social policy in Scotland, may remember the names of Kay Carmichael and David Donnison – two progressive ‘titans’ from earlier times (who married in 1987). Kay (84) died in 2009 – and David (92), earlier this year – but not before he edited a collection of his wife’s writings, called ‘It takes a whole lifetime to become yourself’. There is much in this book worthy of future reference – this is from the two-page final chapter called ‘The End’. “Kay acquired a drug used by the Swiss enterprises that help people to end their lives; when the time came, she drank the draught she had prepared. I sat beside her holding her hand. With grace and gallantry, looking beautiful, she ceased breathing in four minutes”.


Based on the ‘moral’ principle of subsidiarity, I’ve been a local democracy activist for over 50 years: the right of people to run the place where they live. In contrast, the default position of the Scottish Govt is to centralise all power to itself – I do not have high expectations of the new consultation on local governance. Along with 400+ other activists, I attended the Democracy 21 Conference in Glasgow last Saturday – and it was a joy. More than the keynote speeches – more even that the new Declaration of Local Democracy – I was lifted by the quiet realism and determination of individual stories from across the country. Something stirs.


In the calibre of our First Minister, I believe we Scots are very fortunate; I also strongly support Sturgeon’s principle of a gender-balanced ministerial team – but certain of her 2016 batch of cabinet secretaries were simply not good enough in the heat of battle. This week’s reshuffle – including cabinet secretaries and junior ministers – was bolder than anticipated – and the new, slightly larger, formation looks much more robust. Responsibility for our third sector, is now somewhere in the portfolio of Aileen Campbell – a thirty-eight year old, who gets out and about and sends good vibrations; she may even have views about local democracy; I feel hopeful.


The NHS launched when I was eight, so it has permeated my whole life – representing the ideal of a ‘mutual’ society – which looks after everyone, regardless. Visits to clusters of poverty in the USA, brought home to me the savagery of illness in a ‘marketplace’ – without universal healthcare; I believe the NHS is the UK’s greatest achievement, and that a specific tax to underwrite it would be widely supported in Scotland. Good piece on the BBC site by Reevel Alderson, explaining how poverty in the North of Scotland spawned the Highlands and Island’s Medical Service (HIMS) in 1912 – which became a template for the NHS.


In his book, ‘It takes a lifetime to be yourself’, David Donnison reflects on ‘living your dying’.

“I do not want to see death as an enemy coming to me. I want to go to meet my death, not morbidly but in cooperation with the needs of my body and spirit. I may want to anticipate the actual moment at which my body if left to itself would yield up life. Or it may be that my body will make that decision in ways that are acceptable to me. I have a better chance of being able to recognise which of those things is happening if I have lived my dying through my life….. For each of us our death will be unique. When the time comes, let us meet it with courage and a bit of style”

The second SE Ref Sub-Group took place on Wednesday at the Charteris Centre in Edinburgh. Around 30 front-line social enterprises and membership-led organisations gathered to consider the progress of the SE Action Plan – with a focus on two specific elements within the Action Plan – social investment (renewal of the Social Growth Fund is due in April 2019) and the SE Intermediary Review. The session on social investment involved a Q&A with Alistair Davies (SIS) – led by Pauline Hinchion (SCRT) – with the primary concern being how to make small (under £10k), affordable loans available to frontline SEs. The SE intermediary session reflected on weaknesses that currently exist in our Intermediary structure – and what are the characteristics required to meet the current needs of our sector. The over-riding feeling, however, is of the gap that continues to exist between national initiatives (Govt policy) regarding social enterprise– and how these are implemented at a local level by local authorities, other statutory agencies and support organisations. For the Action Plan to be deemed a success – this vacuum needs to be filled. Could the Local Governance Review provide the opportunity to bridge this gap?

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

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding

It’s now 10 years since the delivery of Business Gateway – our national business advice service –  passed from Scottish Enterprise to local authorities. It is estimated that around 99,000 businesses have started up with its support – creating over 100,000 jobs – impressive figures. Although social enterprise currently benefits from its own bespoke, sector-led provision – Just Enterprise – it would be interesting to know how many social enterprises have benefitted from Business Gateway – as the perception is often of a service that does not understand SE particularly well. Surely, as the profile of SE has risen, that should be changing.


Frontline News: 35 Bursaries still available for September’s SE World Forum (SEWF) at £50 (plus VAT). At least two of the following three criteria are required – member of a local or thematic SEN or Intermediary partner; 10 employees or less; or an annual income of less than £200k. See Booking Form.

Here’s an excellent video highlighting the work of CCI and the difference they make to people’s lives:

Health SEN and Glasgow SEN members, The Senior Centre, short-listed for National Lottery’s Best Voluntary/Charity Project 2018 – for their work in reducing Loneliness and social isolation in the Castlemilk area of Glasgow.


Over the last 12 months, there has been a changing of the guard across our SE landscape – with well-kent faces moving on. This week, we hear Ken Milroy announce his retirement from Aberdeen Foyer after 22 years at the helm – with Leona McDermid taking over from Ken as CEO in August. Best of luck to both.


Following interviews earlier this month, P4P is delighted to announce that Claire McLaughlin will be joining the team – taking up post on 23rd July. Claire joins from Lanarkshire Enterprise Services (LESL) where she has built up considerable experience (over 13 years) providing a range of business support to social enterprises and social entrepreneurs as well as private sector clients. For more on P4P, see


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise – founded in Edinburgh – and now spreading to other cities. Invisible Cities’s core activity is to train people affected by homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city – offering alternative tours to tourists and locals. Training focuses on confidence building, public speaking and customer service. Invisible Edinburgh was founded in 2016 and, this year, sees the launch of Invisible Glasgow and Invisible Manchester. Other popular initiatives operated by Invisible Cities include the Street Barber (Edinburgh) Project which runs once a month from the Police Box in Leith Walk.