Senscot Bulletin: 31.03.17

Dear members and friends,

This bulletin usually links to around a dozen articles or reports; selecting what’s useful involves sifting lots of stuff that isn’t – which can be dreary.  So my leisure reading is overwhelmingly escapist – typically some dogged/dysfunctional detective – up against the bad guys: Philip Marlowe is my prototype.  Once I ‘adopt’ a character I read all those books – so I have 13 Kurt Wallanders – 10 Martin Becks – all the translated Hanne Wilhelmsens etc; all are iterations of essentially the same archetypal ‘flawed hero’.
            In recent months, four of my A list authors have published novel’s which disappointed; I managed to finish the Anne Holt and the Jack Reacher stories – but the latest Fred Vargas and Ian Rankin’s recent (feeble) Rebus offering – are abandoned.  Four successive duds seem unlikely – so I’ve been wondering if it’s me that’s changed.  It’s also over a year since I’ve been to Spain – which I don’t understand either – some general ‘disaffection’?  A good friend was asking me about travel – I explain that ‘with age’ – the ‘inconveniences’ of budget airlines become ‘privations’; – the journey becomes an ordeal.  That’s a real pity, she says, because you always returned from those trips ‘energised’.
            She’s right of course – the very process of ‘getting away’ activates my ‘reset button’; so I’ve booked a Malaga flight for 14 April; my spirit will once again roam the beaches and the mountains –in the special light of Andalucia. Other than my age, I don’t think anything much has changed – they were just four rubbish books.


Like anyone else, I feel politically engaged when I can influence events; it’s a while since I felt as powerless as I do now. From an historic failure of statecraft – Brexit was imposed on the Scots; this means an unavoidable (premature) return to the independence question; now we have too many moving parts and folk are unsettled. The media enjoys juxtaposing May and Sturgeon as formidable warriors in a trial of strength – comparisons become inevitable –. May seems to be driven by personal ambition – free to adopt and abandon causes accordingly (including Brexit). Sturgeon, on the other hand, is a conviction politician (see end piece) – careful and relentless; her well-parked ego is a significant advantage. May carries the ‘heft’ of a much bigger nation – well practiced in the ruthless conduct of empire. But any clumsy attempt to ‘boss’ the ‘sovereignty of the Scottish people’ could tip the balance. See Alex Massie’s take in the Spectator.


A 21st March piece in TFN accuses the Third Sector of being too acquiescent with Scottish Govt: “a benign, lacklustre acceptance of pretty much everything”.  The criticism is aimed particularly at the reluctance of disability charities to challenge Jeane Freeman – social security secretary – (Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance refutes this). Senscot has little contact with social security matters – but gets good access and most of our funding through Scottish Govt; it would be naïve to deny that this restricts freedom to criticise.  But a third sector which is ultimately under the control of the state is stripped of value: it’s a tightrope we all have to walk.


The House of Lords select committee on charities has now published its 150 page report ‘Stronger charities for a stronger society’.  It is neither ideological nor party political and is an important work which will influence the UK sector going forward; more than we’ve come to expect from such committees – its concerns are mainly with small and medium charities.  Third sector and charity matters are devolved to Scotland – but for readers who like to remain familiar with wider trends – this short NCVO briefing paper ‘what you need to know will help; or a bit longer, this 8-pager looks at some of the recommendations


Land campaigners (like myself) have a vision for Scotland where there will be no place for vast estates or landlords like Duke of Buccleuch; land will be owned by the people, the communities who live on it.  The current clumsy disposal of the bowling green in the village of Wanlochead – results from the existence of a remote (irrelevant) ‘owner’; that land should be part of the village ‘commons’.  On a similar theme, the renowned Carbeth hutters have a brief window of opportunity to consolidate their land holding – but they need 12 grand urgently – see more.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: WHALE Arts, Carloway Community Association, Scottish Waterways Trust, Age Scotland Enterprises, The Caravan Project, Pilton Community Health Project, The Larder Cook School;
EVENTS: Skelf Bike Park Events, 1 Apr; Portobello Market, 1 Apr; Carluke on the Run 2017, 21 May; Breathing Space Callander 10k, 5 Jun; Understanding and working in complexity for non-profits, 16 Jun;
TENDERS: The Supply and Delivery of Fresh Bakery Products – Dumfries and Galloway Council; Print and Fulfilment Services – Link Group; Grounds Maintenance of Long Distance Path (River Ayr Way) – East Ayrshire Council; Corporate Taxi Service – East Ayrshire Council and more.  Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Senscot and Social Firms Scotland were in Brussels this week to re-engage with the EUSEN. We also had the opportunity to take park in the Euclid Network’s Gathering to Grow II event at the European Parliament  – with the event highlighting the work of the members of Euclid and supporting momentum in EU policy and funding for SE. This follows on from the GECES report, which issued a call for action to the European Commission and member states to create and promote an enabling environment for SEs. Issues discussed with delegates from other member states included how SEs could positively impact migrant integration; Increasing SE visibility; and how the spread of policies from across member states could encourage the growth and development of the SE sector across the continent.


Residents of Portobello, near Edinburgh, are celebrating the first ever successful ‘urban’ community right to buy – thereby preserving Bellfield Old Parish Church and Halls as a community space rather than private development. ‘Porty’ – particularly along the sea-front – is enjoying a period of impressive community development. This is a great story.


A new community wind farm was launched this week near Cocksburnpath in the Scottish Borders; its revenue will enable Berwickshire Housing Association to build 500 homes for social rent over 25 years. Congratulations to all the agencies contributing to this venture – an example of how locally owned renewables can provide investment for essential community infrastructure.


March edition of SCRT Monthly Bulletin is now available. As well as wider social investment issues, this month’s stories cover the Responsible Finance Conference in Cardiff; SIS’s Growth & Replication Challenge; and a look at approaches to social investment from France.


DTA Scotland member, Govanhill Community Development Trust (GCDT) held the official opening of their new Community Information Shop last Friday. The shop, officially opened by Nicola Sturgeon, has been operating since December – is a one-stop shop where local residents are able to report on housing issues; other community matters; get signposted to a wide range of support services; as well as updates and information on various community initiatives.


News this week of a significant boost to the cultural/creative community in Dundee with work getting underway to develop West Ward, DC Thomson’s former print works in Dundee, as a cultural and creative Hub. Our pal, David Cook (formerly of WASPs) has been appointed a project director to oversee this initiative which will see the emergence of one of the largest, permanent creative spaces in the UK.


This week’s bulletin profiles a community of makers, designers and artists, working alongside charities, creative enterprises and small businesses. Edinburgh Palette’s guiding mission is to provide studio artists, entrepreneurs and community organisations with low-cost studio space and unique, organic opportunities for collaboration. A diverse range of facilities are on offer at their sprawling site in Edinburgh, including community drawing rooms, studio space, exhibition galleries, dancefloors and even its own on-site theatre.


I picked up a book by Richard Reed ‘If I could tell you just one thing’: encounters with remarkable people and their most valuable advice.  The final of 64 contributions is from Nicola Sturgeon – which I thought worth passing on:


            “Politics should not be seen as a career option.  People who go into politics should be doing it because they are led by a deep sense of conviction…  Stand up for what you believe in.  Always with conviction, with passion and integrity.  Don’t let ideology blind you, but remain true to what guides you.  And speak in your own voice, in your own words, in a way that makes sense to you and that could not be from anyone else.”


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