Senscot Bulletin: 05.06.20

The Nigerian poet/writer, Ben Okri, wrote somewhere: “I grew up in a tradition where there are simply more dimensions to reality: legends and myths and ancestors and spirits and death….” This made me think of my own upbringing – and while I know nothing of the culture of the Urhobo people – being raised a Scottish catholic in 1940s/50s, had its own cast of unlikely characters and stories. Alongside eternal truths (the sermon on the mount), I learned harmful nonsense about ‘sinful’ behaviour and ‘divine retribution’. My personal journey has been gradual – from the credulity of childhood, to an evidence-based rationalism. I cannot imagine, again adopting any ‘closed’ system of belief, ordained by some God or prophet; I’ve learned the call of freedom – ‘show me the science’.

One of my most valued mentors, Carl Jung disagrees: “The more critical reason dominates, the more impoverished life becomes; but the more of the unconscious, the more myth we are capable of making conscious, the more of life we integrate”. Jung taught that there is a deeper layer to the psyche than the purely personal; he discerned universal patterns of instinct and imagination, that can be found in all cultures and at all times in human history. These primordial images represent humankind’s experience of hunger, sexuality, creativity, the divine etc; he called them the ‘archetypes of the collective unconscious’. Although he called himself a scientist, Jung refused to move at the snail pace of science; a visionary – he saw that there are ‘simply more dimensions to reality’.

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In 1987, I spent 5 weeks in the USA looking at Community Organising; my greatest shock was the difference between being a white or black American – because the true level of racism is filtered-out of their media products.  Those of us who consider Donald Trump to be mentally unstable, wonder how long he can last; first Covid and now the George Floyd riots seem to be tipping him into a ‘mad emperor’ state – photo 1 and photo 2.  But his decisions are only wildly irrational if your aim is to reconcile a divided country; it’s quite possible, that this president’s election strategy is to take his chances on all out conflict – which could become very ugly indeed.  Arwa Mahdawi, in the Guardian, asks if Trump has declared war on the USA.

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I’m afraid I enjoy Fintan O’Toole’s undying rage at English ‘exceptionalism’: his piece about Johnson and Cummings contempt for lockdown rules doesn’t disappoint – merciless. “To hold power, you must never make your electorate feel like fools; they delivered an unpardonable snigger of elite condescension”.

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Concern for the absence of birds from my garden – all varieties of tits – particularly bluetits – have been in decline since spring. Nothing online – except for this in the Conversation, which tells of a deadly virus, suttonella ornithicola. Particularly at this time, the absence of bluetits feeding their young brings sadness.

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Another progressive version this week of how the Scottish economy should ‘shape up’ as we climb out of lockdown: Common Weal’s vision of a ‘resilient economy’. There is an encouraging level of energy on the left in Scotland – but the contributors are too dispersed to wield much political heft. Good blog by Douglas Fraser.

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The sunshine last weekend brought crowds to our wee hamlet – worrying.  But Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership (fastidious detail) has most Scots behaving ourselves.  I’ve had my first fish supper and garden centre visit – both responsibly served – I feel optimistic going forward. New ‘lockdown laws’ would not be enforceable.

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The writer, the late Ursula Le Guin, was feminist, influenced by Carl Jung and Taoist philosophy; I came to think of her as one of the wisest people alive (some quotes). Her thoughts on mortality:

“You will die. You will not live forever. Nor will any man nor any thing. Nothing is immortal. But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose… That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes it is gone, a wave on the sea. Would you have the sea grow still and the tides cease, to save one wave, to save yourself?” — The Farthest Shore, 1972 (Earthsea Cycle #3).

Senscot, Social Firms Scotland (SFS) and the SENs are now able to publish our SE Reset Report. As reported, SE Reset Week saw 24 separate meetings/sessions take place (via Zoom) – attracting over 800 participants. The focus of the majority of sessions – covering both local and thematic SEN members and others –  sought to address main areas of concern for frontline social enterprises: how to survive the current crisis; planning for the future ; and the funding and support needed to get you there. The Report has tried to capture the key points raised across the 24 sessions – and focuses on the challenges; opportunities; and support that would be required in moving forward. What was particularly striking was the three themes that recurred throughout all sessions – the importance of collaboration; peer support and networking; and mental health and wellbeing – of staff, beneficiaries and volunteers. Senscot and SFS have already begun working with the SENs and others across the sector to develop a series of recommendations on how to address the key issues raised in the report. We will continue consulting with SENs and their members and others as the full impact of Covid 19 becomes clearer over the coming months.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.

Senscot is holding an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Friday, 19th June 2020. This follows approval at our recent AGM in March of the proposal to create a merged charitable entity with Social Firms Scotland as a representative body for social enterprises and social firms in Scotland. The EGM will seek members’ approval on three special resolutions towards finalising the establishment of the new entity.

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The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery was set up by Scottish Govt in April to help advise on the actions required for recovery across sectors and regions throughout Scotland. As part of this, they opened a ‘call for views’ from organisations, businesses and individuals to help shape their recommendations. Senscot, together with SFS;  SCF ; and InspirAlba,  submitted this response.

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This ‘call for views’ (above) will have attracted submission from all walks of Scottish life – but one, in particular, that has our support is from Scottish Community Alliance (SCA). SCA and its network of 24 membership-led organisations, representing thousands of community and social enterprises across Scotland, calls for a shift to a more community-focused recovery and proposes a £200m new deal for communities.

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Frontline News: P4P will be running a workshop (via Zoom) for Dundee and Angus SEN members on Collaboration and Tendering on Wed 10th June (2-4pm). See registration form:

P4P is also putting together a ‘good practice brochure’ – highlighting examples of collaboration which have been developed or strengthened during Covid19. If you’d like to share your story, contact info@p4p.org.uk:

Third Sector Resilience Fund (TSRF) has now supported over 1000 frontline organisations across the country. You can see the full list of awardees on this TSRF Update from Firstport:

The Food Train has launched Food Train Connects – a new service connecting older people (65+) looking for a little extra practical or social support with a local volunteer eager to help in their local community.

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In keeping with our current theme of highlighting the work of SEN members during the current crisis, the bulletin, this week, looks at how The Libertie Project has been adapting its services to meet the needs of the people it works with. Based in Inverness, The Libertie Project runs arts and craft activities for offenders, those at risk of offending, their families and victims of crime. In spite of having to ‘close their doors’. Libertie decided too use their skills and resources to help the wider community. This has resulted in the development of a range of activity packs that include: Creative Activity Boxes for Families; Creative Well-being Packs for Adults; Creative Activity Packs for Prison; and Digital Contact Boxes for Households in Hardship. Already they have connected with 100s of households – but are happy to take further referrals from across the Highland area. For more info, email libertie@live.co.uk