Senscot Bulletin: 31.08.18

Dear members and friends,


A relentless stream of reports demands our attention – most are over 50 pages; life’s too short – I read the summaries. This Senscot column is the same length every week – 250 words; I could write 500 words in half the time – but brevity is worth extra effort. In 1657, Blaise Pascal wrote: “I’m sorry this letter is so long – I’ve not had time to make it shorter”.

Lunchtime meeting in a miner’s welfare in deepest Fife; a very early ‘start up’ – young mothers and children – a mix of Fifers and refugees – good feeling. They’ve only got £100 and are looking for someone to write ‘an initial approach to funders’; I explain that I’m retired but can get them help. Maya, the beautiful Syrian chair, makes flattering remarks about why they would prefer me to do it – which must have worked – because I leave with thin file of papers.

I phone a couple of fundraiser friends – get some names; research sparse info about this group; write two pages – distilled to one – which I’m pleased with. Submit my report with suggested first contacts. Nothing for a few days – then an email saying my report is disappointingly short – representing poor value for £100. I’m more amused than irritated – reply that I’m happy to waive my fee – wish them well. Another two days – then an email thanking me for waiving the fee; my generosity means that they now have some budget – would I consider doing further work for them. It looks like I’m to get another pop at the £100.



Anyone who uses power in the workplace, to sexually harass a subordinate, should be exposed and reported to the police, to determine if the incident amounts to criminal sexual assault.  The contemporary determination to stamp out such behaviour is long overdue – Scottish Govt’s policy of zero tolerance is entirely appropriate.  If Alex Salmond turns out to be guilty of the offences being investigated, my reaction, like the First Minister, will be one of deep sadness – because, until all this came to light, I have always liked, respected and admired the man, particularly for the role he has played as a ‘warrior’ for Scotland.  I can think of no Westminster politician who was his match when he was leader of our country. Zero tolerance doesn’t preclude sadness. Two takes here – Dani Garavelli – and some scathing comment on the crowd-funding campaign from Suzanne Moore.



‘Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World’ – is a new book which calls-out the internal contradictions of the ‘impact investing’ world: those who work for ‘social change’ from positions of wealth and privilege.  The central problem of course is that the ‘winners’ in our economic system will always protect their own position; the system perpetuates vast differences in privilege – then charges the privileged with improving it: ‘an elite charade’.  The dictum of black, feminist writer Audre Lorde serves as a summary: ‘The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house’. A review of the book.



Finland’s politicians recognised, a long time ago, that a profoundly unequal education system weakens the fabric of a nation.  From the 1970s onward, they replaced a system of fee-paying and selective schools with a system in which every child attends the ‘common school’.  It is now a global educational success story.  I wonder when we in Scotland will no longer feel the need to segregate our children on the grounds of religion, social class, whatever.  In particular, it’s the perpetuation of privilege through fee-paying schools which calls out for integration with the rest of us.  This is a well-researched longer read.



Doris Lessing (1919-2013) was a remarkably free, daring and wise spirit; I often browse her wisdom.

“You simply don’t get to be wise, mature, etc., unless you’ve been a raving cannibal for thirty years or so.”

“Do you know what people really want? Everyone, I mean. Everybody in the world is thinking: I wish there was just one other person I could really talk to, who could really understand me, who’d be kind to me. That’s what people really want, if they’re telling the truth.”

“Very few people really care about freedom, about liberty, about the truth, very few. Very few people have guts, the kind of guts on which a real democracy has to depend. Without people with that sort of guts a free society dies or cannot be born.”

We now have a date and venue for the third SE Reference Sub-Group meeting – Thursday 25th October at the Eden Court in Inverness (12.30 – 3pm). This follows earlier meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh and will, hopefully, allow more people from membership-led organisations and frontline social enterprises – outwith central Scotland – the opportunity to participate. As well as reflecting on the general progress to date of the SE Action Plan, the SE Reference Sub-Group has also focused on specific issues. These have included business support; branding for SE in Scotland; the impending review of SE Intermediaries; and the current and future social investment needs of the sector in view of a refreshed Social Growth Fund in April 2019. From these meetings came 10 Recommendations – that Senscot and others are actively seeking to progress with Scottish Govt. A full agenda for the meeting in Inverness will be circulated over the next week or so.

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

                 Jobs                             Events                          Funding

AIM2Flourish is the world’s first higher-education curriculum for the UN Sustainable Development Goals and “Business as an Agent of World Benefit”. More than 100 universities worldwide are involved. In Scotland, Glasgow Caley has been working with Social Firms Scotland and Senscot to identify innovative approaches taken by social enterprises in Scotland and showcase them on the Aim2Flourish Platform. Over the past 12 months, 50 Scottish social enterprises have been profiled to an international audience.



Good to hear this week the re-development of Govanhill Baths continues with news of the appointment of a new Project Director – our old pal, David Cook. David will oversee the next phase of capital re-development – with work due to start in early 2019. As David says: “ Govanhill Baths is one of the best examples in Scotland of genuine community-led development in action”. David brings with him considerable experience – having overseen other capital development projects during his time at WASPS Studios and, more recently, his involvement with the redevelopment of West Ward Works in Dundee.



Last week’s piece on the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) Fellowships prompted a response from Anne MacDonald (Head of Social Enterprise Development at HIE). As a 2017 Churchill ’Fellow’– visiting Canada on her project ‘Enhancing business support to deliver greater social impacts’ – Anne has kindly shared her experience in the hope of encouraging others to apply. Anne’s article gives some background on her motivations; the application process; the experience itself; and what she has learnt. Closing date is 18th Sept. See application details.



Good feature in this week’s Third Force News from Robbie Norval from Lingo Flamingo on his journey into social entrepreneurship. The article is part of a series in the build up to the SEWF in Edinburgh (12th-14th Sept). Robbie founded Lingo Flamingo 3 years ago – a social enterprise using language learning as a vehicle to address the effects of dementia. It now runs over 800 classes across Scotland working with national care home chains and charities – as well as with universities to convey both the cognitive and well-being benefits of their classes. Lingo Flamingo is an active member of Glasgow SEN.



This week’s bulletin profiles a community facility serving the Addiewell and Loganlea areas of West Lothian. The Pitstop offers a variety of services available to the local communities that include a community café; venue hire for functions, meetings etc; their own bar; as well as office available at flexible rents to meet individual needs and requirements. The Pitstop also provides free internet access for local people in their café and, in addition, the facility is also used to provide wider services to the community – Councillor surgeries, Job Clubs, Youth Action and Credit Unions. The Pitstop runs as social enterprise with all profits re-invested to expand the services they provide. The Pitstop is a member of West Lothian SEN.