Senscot Bulletin: 30.06.17

Dear members and friends,
Age 8-12, I spent four years at a posh boarding school in England run by Jesuit priests; predictably I caught some of their missionary zeal for social justice – which I’ve spent much of my life trying to understand – no complaints.  With old age, I more frequently avert my eyes from distressing events – the garden helps; but the Grenfell Tower horror was an event of a different order – with a message our society cannot ignore: ‘Citizens at a certain level of poverty count for nothing’.
            I can’t imagine a more literal representation of the words ‘poverty trap’ than the burnt-out remains of that tower block; I’ve forced myself to imagine parents throwing their children from several floors up, in the hope they might be saved – because we must all stay angry enough to sort this.   Across the UK – a growing number of poor people have little prospect of finding a decent place to live; we can make the Grenfell outrage into a tipping point in national life. 
            Garden Centres are increasingly overpriced – I get better value plants from Morrison’s supermarket; Wednesday I’m in the café of their Edinburgh, Ferry Road branch, having lunch.  The dozen customers are noticeably poorer than me, a ‘pinched’ look – at the next table a mother and two toddlers share skimpy rations; I want to buy them a slap-up meal – how arrogant is that!  I reflect that we live alongside unnecessary levels of child poverty – which we find ‘tolerable’ – or we avert our eyes; until another Grenfell Tower erupts. Angela McRobbie at Open Democracy.


The former Labour MP Alan Johnson – who recently gave the JRF annual poverty lecture – experienced the reality of poverty in his own childhood: electricity cut off, free school meals, ‘tick’ at the grocers etc. I enjoyed Johnson’s memoir ‘This Boy’. His ‘felt’ lecture traces how during his lifetime (and mine) an effective social security system was built and improved by successive govt’s – which greatly reduced poverty in this country. Ours was a fortunate generation compared with previous ones – and if were not careful – with the generations to come; because our ‘social contract’ is being deliberately dismantled by a different ideology. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s five point plan to eradicate poverty – published last September – is worth a look.


Although it has taken ages to clear Westminster – the official Bill has now been published at Holyrood which will give Scotland the competence to make different choices within select areas of social security policy. Our social security minister Jeane Freeman is determined that "Dignity and respect will be at the heart of our policy – in marked contrast to the approach of the UK govt." Scotland is well served by our Poverty Alliance – which campaigns for human rights; director Peter Kelly welcomes the new legislation – "based on a very different set of principles and goals”. Michael Gray’s Commonplace piece.


In spite of the cleverly staged ‘outrage’ of Ruth Davidson and others – my commitment to Scottish Independence has not budged – remains pretty much as set out in this Tom Devine summary: ”full Scottish sovereignty alongside close association with the EU". Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘reset’ statement on Tuesday was right not to concede much – but we want the indy discussion to go quiet for a while; she needs to ‘nail’ Davidson around some of the more embarrassing Tory blunders – there is no shortage. Pleased Sturgeon mentioned the wider indy movement beyond the SNP; by punting an independence convention, she can take some pressure off her party. Lesley Riddoch’s take.


On average, a privately-owned car is used 4 percent of the time – the other 96 percent, sitting around, is an enormous waste of resources. This article is about how the Finns are trying to convince the citizens of Helsinki to give up their cars; progress I sense, is slow – but the world is watching. Another Finnish social experiment attracting intense international interest, is their two-year pilot – offering 2000 randomly selected welfare recipients, an unconditional basic income of 560 euros a month. Piece in Economist. These Finnish innovations are mostly trial and error – but just getting them started counts as success.


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, Calman Trust, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, Grassmarket Community Project, Social Investment Scotland, Govan Community Project, Rocket Science UK Ltd


EVENTS: Shared studio spaces available at Out of the Blue Abbeymount Studios, 1 Jul; Portobello Market in July, 1 Jul; Friday Night is Bistro Night, 7 Jul; Social in the Gardens, 2 Aug


TENDERS: Project Management Services for engaging fishermen in marine environmental survey and monitoring – Scottish Government; LFHW Cascade Training – Zero Waste Scotland Ltd and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: This week, Senscot submitted a written response to the Scottish Parliament’s Health & Sports Committee on behalf of the 150 Sport SEN members. The Sport for Everyone inquiry, headed by Neil Findlay (MSP), hopes to understand the barriers to participation in sport, and how to overcome these at both a local and national level. Our response highlighted examples from SEN members who engage with communities to increase participation in a manner that is both inclusive and delivers social impact – Spartans Community Football Club’s ‘alternative school’ for young people ‘at risk of leaving education’ is just one of several excellent SEN member initiatives highlighted. Key themes of our response included the importance of local ownership and the need for community clubs to be consulted during the planning of new facilities, so as not to divert vital revenue from existing facilities. See full response here.


The Social Enterprise Collection Scotland (SE Collection) is part of Glasgow Caley’s Archives. At present the Collection is made up of The John Pearce and The Community Business Scotland Network Collections. With Scotland, often and rightly, held up as one of the most pioneering countries in the promotion of social enterprise, one of its core objectives is to make the SE community’s records available to the learning, teaching and research community – as well as contributing to the community and public engagement and cultural agendas. The SE Collection is now putting out an invitation to pledge records that could contribute to the Collection as it expands. For those wishing to contribute – see attached form.


Last week’s bulletin covered an article by Steve Wyler (a Trustee of the Access Foundation) saying social investment (SI) was not working for those in poorer communities. We also stated that the SI establishment might dispute some of his charges. Social Investment Scotland (SIS) has been quick off the mark – giving a breakdown of their loans over the last 15 months. SCRT gives its own view in its monthly bulletin (below).


June edition of the SCRT Bulletin is now available. This month’s stories include a response by SIS to comments by an Access Foundation Trustee (see above); SCRT’s own view on these comments; and a new Report on growth of Co-ops in the UK that includes some interesting stats for Scotland –  560 Co-ops; a combined turnover of £2.5bn and over 1.3million members.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Glasgow that is part of Community Central Halls (CCH)  – a community development trust in Maryhill that provides a diverse range of vital community services that include pre-school nursery provision; after and out of school care; youth work; café and catering; day care and homecare for older people. Another service CCH offers is through Footprint-Copy. Established in 2008, Footprint-Copy operates as a social enterprise and offers a whole range of print and design services to businesses, communities and the public across Glasgow and the wider area. Footprint’s services cover professional printing services including business cards, letterheads, compliment slips, leaflets, posters, flyers, brochures, booklets and much more.


Depression is only nasty – stealing our capacity to function; ‘melancholy’, however contains ‘consolation’ and is welcome in my life. Enjoyed this article "in praise of melancholia’ by Mark Kernan on the excellent Open Democracy website.


“Melancholy is a particular kind of sadness, an emotion born of suffering but reflective rather than creating a debilitating depression…….It also has a faint quality of mourning, even a kind of grief, but for what? Our lost innocence? All that is lost in the past, and all that will be lost in the future? The human condition is full of bewilderment, misunderstanding, loss and grief because we will lose the people we love, and because things will not work out in the ways we want, so mourning and regret are inevitable….. Thankfully, great art can console us, particularly great music……The melancholic note in popular music—the ‘blue’ note understood by the great African American Jazz artists of the twentieth century—heals, soothes and, if we allow it, can transform our suffering into this kind of knowing and accepting melancholia.”


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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