Dear members and friends,
A patient of South Queensferry Medical Practice since 2004, I have enjoyed an excellent service; over the past decade, however, the rising number of patients per doctor has increased pressure on appointments. If you are seriously ill – the NHS is still unequivocally ‘there for you’ – but we are seeing justifiable efforts to prioritise doctor’s time. We are being asked to adjust our expectations – to take more responsibility for ourselves: a cold or a wee rash brings the desire for assurance; understandable, but not a priority.
Many people who attend doctor’s surgeries, live precarious lives – with levels of stress once contained within extended families and neighbourhood life; their most urgent need could be for someone to simply listen for a while: important, but not the doctor’s job. The Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre offers a model of how future services might be organised: the NHS, Social Work provision and the local community’s considerable volunteer resource – all collaborate from the same hub – to provide a holistic range of services – (including ‘trained’ listeners). Doctors do medicine.
Channel 4 News, this week, suddenly took us to some god-forsaken village in remote Tanzania – where five women, denounced as witches, had been beaten to death. The local culture blames witchcraft for all manner of common problems – infertility, illness, death etc; in consequence, hundreds of older women are killed and burned every year by ‘mob justice’ (particularly those with red eyes?!). While this has no obvious connection to Scotland’s healthcare – it reminded me that ours is a very privileged society.
The Catalonia situation is upsetting; I found the violence of the Guardia Civil repugnant; I felt the real joy on the streets at the (rather meaningless) declaration of independence. An official referendum is surely the only way of determining the balance of the will of any people. I want independence from England, so we Scots can create a society where there is less poverty – less elite privilege; I accept that this depends on convincing the majority of Scots – there’s no other democratic way. It’s impressive that the Catalan independistas have no concern for technical issues, like fiscal black holes, currencies etc; for them it’s overwhelmingly a question of ‘Liberdad’ – freedom; I wish them well – their boldness.
Well intentioned people, like myself, who choose to work alongside the relatively powerless (less money, education, contacts etc) – need to ask ourselves ‘why’ we are in a ‘caring’ profession; we the ‘helpers’ return home at night – the ‘helped’ stay put – a fundamental tension I’ve never been able to reconcile. The social mobility of the 60s and 70s, made it possible for determined individuals from ‘deprived’ backgrounds to make it across the gulf to ‘our’ side – but only occasionally do they find the language (or the new bearings) to describe their journey. Though it’s not published till 4 Nov – I hear that a new book by Darren McGarvey – called Poverty Safari, is about just such a journey – thoughtfully told.
The SNP proposed this week an increase in ‘Participatory Budgeting’ – maybe as much as 1% of Council funds by 2021; fine, but PB is no substitute for our missing tier of democracy. I live between the ancient towns of South Queensferry and Linlithgow – both merit elected councils and mayors – monitored by us citizens – everyone working together, for social and economic prosperity. The raison d’etre of the SNP is based on the principle of subsidiarity – yet on their watch, Scottish local democracy is among the worst in Europe; experiments like participatory budgeting can’t replace the hundreds of elected councils which are missing..
Hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – a range of experts on violence prevention, from around the globe, recently spent a few days in Ottawa, sharing knowledge and experiences. This piece by Dr Christine Goodall (of Medics Against Violence) tells of much international admiration for the achievements of Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit. An encouraging read. Police Scotland’s zero tolerance policy towards domestic abuse, resulted in a near doubling of reported offences; public attitudes are gradually changing. It was revealed this week however, that a fifth of those accused, are now being released pending trial – which must be a worry to victims.
JOBS: Leith Community Cropin Pots, Beacon Arts Centre, Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex, The Touring Network, Social Investment Scotland, Social Enterprise Academy, Fortune Works
EVENTS: Portobello Market – Edinburgh, 4th Nov; Coalfields Community Asset Transfer Workshop, 8th Nov; Just Enterprise: Budgeting for Your Organisation & Funding Applications, 9th Nov
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The SENs Weekly Update: Today sees the launch of our third thematic Briefing Paper – Diet, Activity and Healthy Weight: The Role of Social Enterprise. Obesity has been identified as “a significant public health issue,” with Scotland suffering some of the highest incidences of obesity for men and women among OECD countries. To combat this, the Scottish Government last week published its consultation paper – A Healthier Future – Action and Ambitions on Diet, Activity, and Healthy Weight, seeking contributions to the development of a national strategy. Our Briefing Paper aims to increase awareness of the contribution of the social economy as Scotland attempts to become a ‘Good Food Nation’. Included are three varied case studies, highlighting the positive impact SEs can make at an individual and community level. Read the briefing here.
The SE Conference – Collaborating towards a Sharing Economy – at the Westerwood Hotel on 7th and 8th Dec has only a small number of full delegate places left see, Booking Form. As mentioned last week the event will see a refreshed version of the Dragons’ Den – with the emphasis on the theme of ‘collaboration’. Applications are invited for ‘pitches’ from SEs either delivering or planning to deliver a new or amended service by working in partnership with others. Again, in keeping with this year’s theme, prize money for the winning pitch will come in the form of support/services/products etc from SEN members or intermediaries to the value of £5k. See Dragons’ Den Application Form.
The Scandinavian option of having a wee place in the county – a weekend retreat – is very appealing to me. Reforesting Scotland works continuously to remove barriers to simple, low impact hutting in Scotland and its encouraging that their annual Hutters Rally continues to gather momentum. You can attend this year on Nov – 18 at Broughton St Mary’s church Edinburgh. Booking form.
A new impact report estimates that tens of thousands of Scots households, containing disabled people, face an income loss of several thousands of pounds – on the roll-out of the new Personal Independence Payment. Scots minister for social security, Jeane Freeman, said that the UN has already condemned the damage being caused by these UK govt policies – and has called for urgent changes.
Receiving a knighthood this week, Billy Connolly was asked about his switch from being an ‘outrageous rebel’ to a pillar of establishment. He replied that he is comfortable – because, with age, he finds the ‘counterculture’ increasingly ‘naff’. Well that’s not true for us all Billy – and no matter how many honours you accept – it’s your genius for mocking the establishment that will be your enduring memory; the best.
This week’s bulletin profiles Tuk In, a mobile café in the form of an electric tuk tuk which delivers healthy, low-cost meals to areas of high deprivation in Aberdeen and the surrounding areas. The community kitchen rescues fresh food destined for landfill and transforms them into nutritious, tasty meals which can be delivered into the heart of communities which suffer food insecurity. The enterprise also generates income by selling lunches to local businesses, putting the profits back into their community activities. Tuk In is a newly-developed arm of Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE), a social enterprise in Aberdeen which works to alleviate food poverty in disadvantaged communities.
I wonder if the novels of Hermann Hesse are still read – or if his stuff is too ‘spiritual’ for these times; this is from an unpublished letter:
‘Life is meaningless, cruel, stupid, and nevertheless magnificent – it does not make fun of us (for that requires intelligence), but concerns itself with humans no more than with the earthworm. We must take the cruelty of life and the inexorability of death into ourselves, not by moaning but by experiencing our despair to the full. Only then, only when we have taken all the meaninglessness of nature into ourselves, can we begin to confront it and to force a meaning on it. That is the highest achievement we are capable of. Most people do not suffer from meaninglessness, any more than the earthworm does. But precisely the few who do look for meaning – are the meaning of humankind.’
That’s all for this week.
Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210