Dear members and friends,
I had a sleepover in London last week – good craic with old friends – some new connections – invigorating. One of the places on my list to check out was the School of Life (SoL) in Marchmont St. – discovered through a weekly column in the Observer mag. Not so long ago, many of us listened to a preacher every Sunday – the human need for that kind of storytelling doesn’t go away. Since 2008, SoL has been arranging ‘secular sermons’ – for people who reject dogma but are concerned to live wisely and well. I think this is a great idea. We probably all crave ‘inspiration’ – storytelling which imagines a better world – where the good guys (meek and humble) vanquish the bad guys (greedy and ruthless) – the eternal drama which we are all part of. See, www.theschooloflife.com
High point of my trip was the Compass annual lecture delivered by Prof. David Marquand – a long admired thinker, who wrote ‘The Unprincipled Society’. He’s 76 now – spoke to a packed house of centre left social democrats – who loved him. Being half deaf – I got a seat in the front row – almost touching the top table – where I could observe the celebs for 2 hours (one was Ed Miliband, whom I liked – a listener – not too self important). Prof. Marquand ended with a call for a new, cross party, progressive movement – ”to drive the money lenders from the temple” – enthusiastically received. I felt the stirring of an almost forgotten excitement – the sense of being part of something bigger – something fine. https://senscot.net/?viewid=10697
The most consistent theme in my work over 30 years has been the transfer of power from the state – outwards to communities. It’s awesome that within my lifetime the UK has a prime minister who has made this the very first priority of his government. In fairness to New Labour, they had a cabinet minister (Hazel Blears) who was already doing ‘Big Society’ years ago – but overall, it never got higher than 5th/6th in Labour’s priorities. In Scotland, Alex Salmond has shown zero interest in community empowerment – though Swinney and Sturgeon – even Neil – understand enough to dabble. It probably hovers 7th/8th in SNP’s priorities. Scottish Labour is synonymous with municipalism and shows no sign of shifting. I doubt if empowering communities is among its first dozen priorities. If Cameron stays with this agenda – and I think he will – a new tier of democracy will evolve, closer to the people – even in central Scotland. Here’s ex – M.P. Brian Wilson’s take. https://senscot.net/?viewid=10710
Though the subject can turn some people off – the mechanism through which Scotland’s third sector engages strategically with our Govt. is an important issue. SCVO, nominally fulfils this role – acting as the sector’s ‘gatekeeper’ – but as the landscape changes, there are concerns that not everyone is adequately represented by the present arrangements. On Feb 9th, Scottish Govt. hosted a meeting of 35 assorted sector leaders. See, http://senscot.org/docs/DelegateList.doc The discussion explored whether a wider, more pluralistic structure of representation might be preferable. This is not an easy challenge – so many bits to our sector. This note of the meeting identifies some options and invites comment. This initiative from the Third Sector Division is welcome. https://senscot.net/?viewid=10707
This week, Scottish Govt announced a new £10m fund called Community Jobs Scotland – to create 2000 openings in the third sector for young people. The Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition and SCVO will be working in partnership with Scottish Govt to deliver a programme that will look to offer concrete work experience as well as contributing to local communities. We’ll keep you informed as more details emerge. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=10708
Senscot has been commenting on the Social Investment Bank for years – and it’s still a long way off – what a saga! It now appears that most of its activity will be loans at commercial rates of interest – which of course makes it inaccessible to the great majority of our sector – which operates in a different world. How will the new bank relate to Scotland? What’s happening with the Scottish (£40m) unclaimed accounts money? Where does SIS fit in? There are lots of unanswered questions. https://senscot.net/?viewid=10698
I find myself increasingly visiting the political commentary of Gerry Hassan on his website. He’s not afraid to confront the entrenched vested interests which keep political debate in Scotland locked down. I’m enjoying his current dialogue with Nick Pearce of English think tank, Institute of Public Policy Research. Knowledge – passion – boldness. We need more of this stuff. https://senscot.net/?viewid=10699
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php . This week:
JOBS: Engender, Lendrick Lodge, Church House, Bridgeton (Glasgow), Parent Action for Safe Play, Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition, Carr-Gomm Scotland, Cornerstone
EVENTS: Cash Flow Planning workshop, 8 Feb; Highlands & Islands Celebration Event, 11 Feb; Climate Change Effective Communication, 17 Feb; 1 Day Deaf Awareness Course, 25 Feb;
TENDERS: Supply of Electrical Equipment and Consumables; Rural Grass Cutting & Weed Control Service; Screening, Crushing & Recycling of Inert Material; Property Security Service Term Contract
NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: 10 Social Enterprise Networks (SENs) are now either partners or actively engaged in the process of establishing Third Sector Interfaces (TSI) across Scotland. This week, Senscot, Social Firms Scotland and the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition sent a joint letter to those Interfaces that may not have such direct engagement. See Letter http://senscot.org/docs/LetterTSIs.doc We are offering our assistance to ensure that an appropriate level of engagement with the local social enterprise community is evident in all 30 Interfaces. We’ll keep you posted on progress.
For more Networks News, see http://se-networks.net/showbull.php?articleid=177
Our annual appeal for donations is winding down. There is no better way for our friends to secure Senscot’s future, than to sign up as a company member (£25). See, http://www.senscot.net/companymembers11.php
The 5th annual ‘Fit for Purpose’ Health and Social Enterprise Conference takes place on Friday 18th March at the Royal Society in George Street. This year’s theme is ‘Prevention, Improvement and Innovation’ and will be chaired by writer and broadcaster, Pennie Taylor. Keynote speakers include Sue Bruce (CEO, Edinburgh City Council) and Chris Dabbs (Unlimited Potential, Salford). Places are going fast. See flyer http://senscot.org/docs/FitforPurposeFlyer.pdf and booking form http://www.se-networks.net/fitforpurpose11form.php
The Social Enterprise Scotland Awards short list was announced this week. Awards take place on 24th Feb at PriceWaterhoueCooper in Glasgow, with winners heading to London on 30th March for the UK Awards. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=10703
Date for your diary: CEiS will be hosting their International Conference on 7th Sept at the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow. Speakers etc to be announced shortly. Also, Impact Arts launch their first showhomes exhibition of the national Fab Pad programme. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=10700
The Social Enterprise Mark (SEM) is one year old and Dai Powell, chair of the SEM Company, said this week that while it had started slowly, it has picked up momentum. Powell said that the concept of social enterprise is threatened by both public and private sector organisations declaring themselves to be part of the movement and went to say that social enterprise needs to establish a clear definition for itself. See https://senscot.net/?viewid=10701
NESTA is on the look-out for social entrepreneurs in their 50s and 60s to act as mentors on their Age Unlimited Programme. Now entering its second year, the programme helps new social entrepreneurs in the same demographic set up new ventures in their local community – 15 people benefited from the scheme last year last year. If you’re interested, see https://senscot.net/?viewid=10706
This week’s bulletin profiles Scotland’s only social enterprise driving training provider – Roadwise. Initially set up in 1994, new ground was broken in August 2008 when Aberdeen Foyer acquired a 50% stake through its trading arm Foyer Enterprise. Profit generated by Roadwise directly supports the work of Aberdeen Foyer and means the social impact of the organisation extends well beyond the existing work of creating a safer road environment for all road users. For more, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=10702
At 8am on Sunday mornings – Richard Holloway chats to a guest about the ‘meaning’ in their life. This week it was Susan Blackmore – who opened my mind to a range of exciting new ideas.
She is an academic, specialising in the science of consciousness – who also practises zen meditation. Readers who like the same stuff as I do, should listen to this discussion on the BBC site – I loved it.
”What is this yearning that so many of us have for something else; something beyond, something finer than the messiness of striving for the ultimately pointless gains of our ordinary life? It is this yearning, whatever it is, that drives us towards religion and spirituality. The beliefs of most religions are not compatible with science, but some kinds of spiritual practice are. Zen practice and science have much in common and each may benefit from the other. They may even lead to some of the same insights about self, mind and consciousness.” Here’s a link to Susan’s tract ‘Zen into Science’ https://senscot.net/?viewid=10704
That’s all for this week.
Good luck with your adventures
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