Saturday morning. On a hill overlooking the Firth of Forth – views deep into Fife – I stop the car; despite the cold – something in the quality of the light has the unmistakable gleam of spring; sitting in its radiance, becoming still – seems to activate a ‘refresh’ function in my brain – something shifts. Arriving home, I realise that my mood is lighter – that the energy to shape my garden – absent for months – has returned. When the soil softens a bit – I’ll divide those clumps of snowdrops…
Saturday afternoon. That was probably the most exciting rugby match I’ve ever watched – but it was literally too exciting for me. As the battle rages – I suddenly feel unwell – my pulse rate dangerously ‘off the scale’; I take a short walk – Valium tablet – watch the game without sound – but my stress threshold has clearly reduced. Scott Fitzgerald used the analogy of a cracked plate – no longer heated in the oven or rattled in the dishpan – but ok under leftovers in the fridge.
Saturday evening. As our ‘life force’ diminishes, elderly people withdraw from the external world of building, ruling, hoarding etc – but not reluctantly; it coincides with an increased attention to our inner life. In my own case, I feel that I ‘belong to myself’ more than I ever remember – and, with luck, I’d like to own the next ‘last bit’. A very clever chap, Michel de Montaigne, said: “Let us deprive death of its strangeness, let us frequent it, get used to it… let death take me planting my ‘snowdrops’ – indifferent to him”.
Next week will be our last call for readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin. Each year, around 100 individuals give an average of £25 to become full company members – and around 25 orgs give £100-500 to become associate members. Full members for 2018 stand at 98 (2 to go!); and 23 for associates (again 2 to go!). To join or donate, see members page – and also to check your name’s there.
Slowly but surely, Labour has adopted a position on our future relationship with Europe, not dissimilar to some more sensible Tory MPs; May’s cabinet is deluded – a General Election now inevitable – my guess, quite soon. Late September last year – I watched Corbyn’s Conference speech and was impressed. Fraser Nelson – editor of the Tory Spectator – immediately tweeted “Corbyn’s speech rightly assumed that the next election is his to lose” – I think we’ll soon find out – bring it on! The social movement Jezza leads, has shifted the political centre ground in the UK – I believe he speaks to a new consensus that wants a fairer and more compassionate economic order. As for Europe – their negotiators feel sorry for Theresa May and laugh at her key advisors; lets send a new team over. Paul Mason thinks Corbyn’s solution can begin to heal our divided country.
A recurring theme of Corbyn’s leadership has been the prospect of bringing privatised services back into public ownership. Initially dismissed by many, this policy appears to be gaining increasing support amongst the public and, if elected, Labour intend to re-nationalise rail, water, energy and the Royal Mail. Taking public services back into state/common ownership is nothing new in Europe. Since 2000, there have been almost 600 such instances – with everything from care homes for the elderly to bus companies now run by continental towns and cities. Great story from Germany where the town of Wolfhagen (14,000 residents) took on energy giant E.ON – and won.
It is now widely understood that social factors have a significant influence on the mental health and wellbeing of everyone; the term ‘social prescribing’ refers to linking individuals, with health problems, to non-medical sources of support within their community; arts, sports, volunteering, anything social (3 minute video clip from Dr Karen Adam). As these activities happen mostly in the ‘social enterprise world’ – the significance of our community to the nation’s health, is currently attracting attention – but social prescribing has been on Senscot’s agenda for years. This is the delegate list from a conference we organised in 2010 – addressed by sector leader Lynne Friedli – and some of you are still in the front trenches.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: The Findhorn Village Conservation Company, The Larder West Lothian, Care Opinion, Community Enterprise Ltd, People United for Banton, Social Investment Scotland
EVENTS: Fife Soup, 02 Mar; Portobello Market, 03 Mar; Community Heritage Scotland – Going Forward, 03 Mar; Seed Swap, 03 Mar; Digitising Your Market, 06 Mar; Charity Comedy Night, 06 Mar
TENDERS: Garden Aid Services 2018-20 – Almond Housing Association, Tune into Tourism – Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Void Clearance & Cleaning Services – River Clyde Homes, Social Attitudes Survey Vehicle 2018 – Scottish Government. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: This week sees the seventh in our series of Senscot Briefings being published. The Briefings aim to showcase the approach that social enterprise is taking to address a range of complex social issues across Scotland. Our latest Briefing – ‘Social Prescribing – the role of social enterprise’ – highlights the value of social enterprises being involved in social prescribing in terms of the sustainable and person-centred solutions they can provide. Examples of this work are cited via case studies which include: Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI) in Lanarkshire; the Care and Wellbeing Co-operative in Perthshire; and the Good Morning Service in Glasgow. The value and importance of the role of SEs are reflected in comments by Dr Chris Black (BMA’s Scottish GP Committee) “I believe that small, community health organisations are the best source of social prescribing as they are aware of the community and the facilities and services that are available.” See list of this year’s previous Senscot Briefings.
George Monbiot posted a remarkable article last week about the health benefits of tackling loneliness in Frome, Somerset. The provisional findings indicate, that when isolated people, with health problems, are in contact with some community group or activity – the number of emergency admissions to hospital falls spectacularly. All the indications are that our sector and health provision will continue to converge – including financial convergence?
Commonspace, the important news/policy platform, draws attention to new, independent research – which finds that Scotland is on course to building 50,000 affordable homes in the lifetime of this parliament; a £3bn programme which will be the biggest boon in new social housing since the 1970s. 66% of the new homes will have a Housing Association or Cooperative as lead developer – a tribute to Scotland’s social economy.
The February issue of the SCRT Bulletin came out on Wednesday of this week. This month’s edition has a focus on smaller organisations, including: a SEUK report on the importance and positive impact of small organisations on communities; a BBC report highlighting the number of small charities that are closing; as well as Locality’s report into the value of using local providers to deliver local services.
A new round of awards was announced last week by the Scottish Land Fund. Over £1.2m has been awarded to eight community organisations across the country who will now have the opportunity to bring land and building in their respective communities into community ownership. One such example is Carluke Development Trust (CDT) – a founding member of DTA Scotland – which will now receive £278,000 to purchase the High Mill site next to Carluke town centre. CDT will use its award to purchase the site and turn it into a community growing space that will provide new training, employment and volunteering opportunities. See details on all eight awards.
This week’s bulletin profiles a community enterprise, based in North Lanarkshire, that operates as a community anchor, providing a range of services all designed to improve the quality of life for the local community. Glenboig Neighbourhood House (GNH) was established in 2000 in the ex-mining village of Glenboig – a few miles from Coatbridge. Today, GNH employs around 20 f/t staff and has over 120 volunteers involved. Their services include a café; community and a post office. They also provide a variety of employment and training skills; adult learning activities; and other activities designed to engage all age groups with their community.
John Hume, the Northern Ireland politician and civil rights activist, was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 (along with David Trimble). This passage from his acceptance speech seems particularly relevant today. It was delivered on December 10, 1998, in Oslo.
“In my own work for peace I was very strongly inspired by my European experience. I always tell this story – and I do so because it is so simple yet so profound and so applicable to conflict resolution anywhere in the world. On my first visit to Strasbourg in 1979, as a member of the European Parliament, I went for a walk across the bridge from Strasbourg to Kehl. Strasbourg is in France, Kehl is in Germany. They are very close. I stopped in the middle of the bridge and I meditated. There is Germany. There is France. If I had stood on this bridge 30 years ago, after the end of the second World War, when 25 million people lay dead across our Continent for the second time in this century, and if I had said: “Don’t worry. In 30 years’ time we will all be together in a new Europe, our conflicts and wars will be ended and we will be working together in our common interests”, I would have been sent to a psychiatrist. But it has happened and it is now clear that European Union is the best example in the history of the world of conflict resolution and it is the duty of everyone, particularly those who live in areas of conflict, to study how it was done and to apply its principles to their own conflict resolution.”
That’s all for this week.
Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210