Senscot Bulletin: 30.08.19

Dear members and friends,

I live alone and work from the house – but every few days I might jump in the car and drive 45 mins up the M9, to lunch in lovely Trossachs country; the round trip takes about 3 hours – the drive seems to stimulate creative ideas.

The particular restaurant I favour just now does an excellent fish and chips – but the other attraction is a waitress called Maggie; fortyish, a bit overweight, working-class west of Scotland accent and attitude; but it’s the smile that’s special – mainly through her eyes – it conveys humanity, humour, heroism.  I often project on to people I hardly know, the power of mythical heroes: I imagine Maggie as Mary Barbour of the 1915 Glasgow rent strike – a warrior. There’s another woman there called Joyce whom I imagine as Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.

When I arrive at the restaurant this week, Maggie is preoccupied/withdrawn, which makes me feel disproportionately ‘forsaken’. It’s not that I’m ‘smitten’ believe me – we are just two strangers who smile at each other – exchange pleasantries, nothing more; but clearly, I’m giving exaggerated significance to casual encounters – and I wonder what it means. If I was counselling others, I’d advise them to avoid fantasy/idealised relationships – become more engaged in ‘real’ ones – in the ‘real’ world; alas, this has little appeal – except for the handful of friends whose joy and pain we share.  By the time I leave, Maggie is her usual buoyant self – that great smile; which is a relief – I enjoy my wee jaunts.


“At the core of the British Constitution is the principle that the Govt is accountable to Parliament.” This is from a short (and helpful) statement this week by Prof Meg Russell – Director of the Constitution Unit. “It appears”, she says, “that the PM is deliberately dodging scrutiny”. My sense is that UK citizens will loudly protest this suspension of parliament – that very quickly next week, Boris Johnston will be ejected or at least neutralised by the Commons. If not, then ‘batten down the hatches’; team Boris will use ‘any means necessary’ – which means extreme measures – without precedent – scary.


New research confirms the influence of the press on public opinion; how the long-running Merseyside boycott of the Eurosceptic Sun newspaper (following its misreporting of the Hillsborough disaster) – influenced the Merseyside Remain vote in the Brexit referendum. Good piece in the FT.


Established by Scottish Gov in 2017 – the Independent Care Review merits a mention. Its busy website welcomes contributions and one of its many working groups is called the Love Group. This blog from Jane Malcolm, also appeals for love to underpin all childcare services – gaining momentum.


Tuesday evening TV news – I was captivated by two Fraserburgh sisters, who rescued a man and his wee boy, in real danger of drowning. Speaking in this short clip, Isla Noble (15) and Eilidh (14) are at once delightfully ordinary and exceptionally resourceful. They don’t understand what the fuss is about.


Edinburgh is my nearest ‘big town’ – but I keep well away during the festival, which has now grown too big – “The biggest cultural event on the planet”. Good piece in Bella Caledonia, arguing that the cultural life of Edinburgh and Scotland gets scant enduring benefit from this annual bonanza.

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was a Holocaust survivor and a humanistic psychologist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning; he left many memorable quotes – and this is one of my favourites.

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember those who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Over recent months, Senscot has been working with NHS Health Scotland to explore what role community café activity plays within social enterprise – examining issues around sustainability and considering different business models. Over 30 social enterprises participated in discussions across the country to share their experience of developing and managing community café activities. These forums have provided a valuable insight on the purpose this activity serves, highlighting the challenges faced and how these were overcome or could have been avoided.  A further 40 social enterprises have also provided input via a short survey. On the back of this, Senscot has now produced an initial paper – SE and Community Café Activity – that will lay the foundation for peer-to-peer learning through a series of further publications. Each publication will focus on a specific scenario, such as setting up a community café from scratch or bringing in an external caterer to run a community café on existing premises – all drawing on the experience of SEN members who run established community cafes to outline the opportunities and potential pitfalls of each scenario.

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

Our SE Conference, in partnership with Social Firms Scotland and Scottish Community Alliance, will be taking place on 25th/26th November 2019 – again at the Westerwood Hotel. Last week, we announced that Neil McInroyCentre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) – will be one of our keynote speakers. We are currently developing the programme for the two-day event – focusing on community wealth and wellbeing – and the opportunities and challenges for local social/community enterprises. We are now accepting bookings – see booking form – and will be populating the event page over the coming weeks.


Scottish Govt’s SE Reference Group met again this week at Out of the Blue in Edinburgh. The Agenda

covered updates on the SE Intermediary Review; news on the official launch of the Govt’s new business support contract for our sector, being delivered again by the Just Enterprise Consortium; a review of progress re the current SE Action Plan – as well as an interesting interactive session looking at future funding approaches with regard to future Action Plan. In advance of the meeting, this report was circulated that included ‘highlights to date’ and feedback from over the last 18 months.


Big week coming up in Glasgow next week with a series of events, co-ordinated by Glasgow SEN and its members, running throughout Social Enterprise Week. As well as these events, Tuesday will see the John Pearce Memorial Lecture at Glasgow Caley; Wednesday is CEIS’ SE policy and Practice Conference; Thursday is the SE Marketplace; and culminating, on Friday, with the launch of Glasgow’s SE Action Plan.


Frontline News: Today sees the launch of the Clackmannanshire SE Strategy at an event in Alva. The event also sees the publication of Clacks own SE Map – and will be followed up by a further series of events during September as part of Clacks Festival of SE. This now takes the number of local SE Strategies to 7 – with two ‘in development’; Scottish Govt’s Climate Challenge Fund is now open for a new round of applications. Up to £100k per annum – available between 2020-22. Applications due in by noon on 20th Sept;

This week also saw Cabinet Sec Aileen Campbell launch the new Rural Social Enterprise Hub in Campbelltown – which will establish a digital network for rural social enterprises to share experiences.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new community enterprise on the isle of Harris. Talla na Mara is Gaelic for the “Centre by the sea” and is owned and managed by the West Harris Trust on behalf of the local community. In January 2010 the West Harris Trust purchased 7225 hectares of land on the West side of Harris. One of the Trust’s key aims is to revitalise the community by attracting new residents through the creation of new housing; employment opportunities; and other developments that address the needs of the community, local businesses and visitors to West Harris. Talla Na Mara is a key part of these plans – as a vital community hub that offers dining, multi-purpose venue hire, as well as camping facilities.