Since I stopped reading the Spectator (too nasty), I sometimes get my glimpse of poshness and privilege from the FT Weekend; this week, columnist, Janan Ganesh wrote: “In 2017, I spent a grand total of four evenings, in on my own; a few of the other 361 were professional engagements, but the rest were genuinely social”. Ganesh appears proud of this achievement, but I think such restlessness is sad; he’s 37, less than half my age, but I thought of a quote attributed to the philosopher, Pascal: “Humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit content in an empty room”. Years ago, when I was trying to separate from alcohol addiction, someone said: ‘sober is enough when alone is enough’; this soundbite became a lifeline; at the age of 60, I befriended solitude; began to ‘still my soul’.
But it is when we are young, and our blood ‘vigorous’, that we are required to learn and live so many different roles – within our families and in our work and social lives. I can’t be alone in looking back, sadly, at so many broken promises – in imagining that, given another chance, I would do it all so much better. But the critical capacity to ‘share’ ourselves – to risk loving another person – is given to us: maybe we just are who we are – would do it all much the same.
In old age, I find myself closer to Blaise Pascal; more content in empty rooms than social gatherings: but beware the advice of the elderly – who can confuse exhaustion for wisdom.
I’m still trying to interpret the meaning of the European vote: was it a mandate for hard Brexit? Even a crash out? – or did it show that the various remain factions could, together, force another referendum? The question I’m clearest about is asked by Mike Small in Bella Caledonia: “Is there some possibility, in the divergence between Scotland and England, for our goal of independence?” The SNP won 30 of our 32 regions – there’s a new spring in their step. Unpleasant con men like Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson will now parade before us – completely indifferent to Scottish interest; I expect IndyRef2 to gather momentum.
The single biggest mistake of the SNP regime has been its centralisation of everything – mainly at the expense of Scottish Councils – which have been systematically subordinated. The Scottish Community Alliance Briefing makes this point well: how they ‘talk’ subsidiarity, but can’t ‘let go’. In December 2017, Scottish Govt and COSLA launched a Local Governance Review – to design the missing tier of democracy below Councils. This was to be backed by Primary Legislation within this parliament. This has now been downgraded to the following parliament – this 2-minute film sets the new, almost leisurely pace.
The First Minister has given the job of organising Scotland’s Citizens’ Assembly to Mike Russell – who is taking it seriously. One of the Tory candidates for leadership, Rory Stewart, has said he would use the strategy to solve Brexit. He’s probably too sensible to be selected – but one for the future?
This piece is about the world’s first raspberry-picking robot – which will eventually dispense with another laborious human task. I mention this in the context of the debate about universal basic income (eventually inevitable). A better than usual contribution comes from economist Guy Standing: (Concluding reflections).
Caring for the vulnerable: elderly, small children, the disabled etc – should not be trusted to profit-seeking businesses; the revelations of the recent Panorama programme from Essex were very frightening. We need to extend the role of our social economy – where care work and community work are valued and respected.
It’s fitting to acknowledge and celebrate the life/work of Jean Varnier, who has died aged 90. The l’Arche communities he founded – 154 in 38 countries – provide the opportunity for the disabled, and the rest of us, to live and work together – probably around 10,000 people worldwide.
“Other humanitarians approach people with disabilities either from the philanthropic or the altruistic point of view; Vanier upended that philosophy, by saying that no, those who have the power – those who are able – need the disabled and the powerless, to give us gifts we couldn’t otherwise have.’ Varnier said: “When those ingrained in a culture of winning and of individual success really meet our members, and enter into friendship with them, something amazing and wonderful happens. They too are opened up to love and even to God. They are changed at a very deep level – and become more fundamentally human.”
In 2018, Aberdeen SEN commissioned research on social enterprise in the city and its support needs – with a view to ‘re-animating’ the local SEN and its connection with the local SE community. One of the key outcomes of the research has seen the beginning of discussions between Aberdeen SEN; Aberdeen TSI (ACVO) and Aberdeen Council with a view to developing a SE Strategy for the city. As part of this, Aberdeen SEN and ACVO are hosting an event on Tuesday 18th June 2019 designed as an opportunity for local SEs to help shape the Strategy. This is open to any social enterprise operating in the Aberdeen area – more details and sign up information, here.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
The new Business Support contract – part of the SE Action Plan – was announced this week. The Just Enterprise Consortium will continue to provide this service over the next three years. The Consortium – led by CEIS – also includes Firstport, the Social Enterprise Academy, Impact Hub Inverness and CEMVO amongst others. The £5m programme will officially start in August 2019 – but you can register interest here.
Next Thursday (6th June) in Glasgow sees the 4th meeting of the SE Reference Sub-Group. Over 40 social enterprises and membership-led organisations have signed up so far. Our Agenda will reflect on the recent Govt SE Ref Group – and begin to explore the priorities for the next Action Plan – the successes; the gaps that still exist; and how can we ensure that support/resources can be properly channelled to frontline organisations. A full report will be available in our bulletin on14th June 2019.
An event with a bit of a difference is being hosted by Edinburgh University on 18th June in Edinburgh. Futureproofing Social Enterprise will explore specific issues affecting social enterprises in Scotland – such as addressing the funding gap between £5k-£100k; how local authorities and Govt can better support SEs; and the potential impact of new technologies/open information. The event will not involve speakers/panels etc but instead use the more interactive ‘working-track’ approach. See details and registration form.
With the Community Learning Exchanges (CLE) Programme being funded again through to March 2020, one that may be of interest to a number of SEN members is being hosted by CVS Inverclyde SEN to Glenboig Community Centre on Tuesday 11th June. The visit is targeted at people involved in running other community centres/hubs to learn from the activities and experiences of the community in Glenboig. If you are interested in attending, contact email@example.com
This week’s bulletin profiles a venture that started out as the UK’s first prison-based dog training programme – via a ‘pilot’ in 2011 at Polmont Young Offenders Institution. Following the success of this pilot, Paws for Progress then began to work in partnership with Fife College allowing greater scope for educational achievements for the human participants. In 2014, it set up as a Community Interest Company. Today, Paws for Progress works with three key partners – the Scottish Prison Service; the University of Stirling; and Fife College. More recent initiatives include the Dementia Dog Project, run in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland; and Paws and Kids, working with primary and secondary schools across central Scotland.