MP David Lammy recently took exception to a photo posted online by journalist Stacey Dooley – he said: “The photo of a beautiful white woman, holding a black child, evokes a ‘colonial’ image – her as heroine, black child as victim; African people are equals to be respected – not victims to be pitied.” For me, the main issue here is not about colour, but how ‘advantaged’ people should behave in poor communities; I’ll go with Lammy on this one.
In Poverty Safari, Darren McGarvey writes that left-leaning, liberal, middle-class community workers (that’s me) may be genuinely well-intentioned; but, because they see themselves as the ‘good guys’, they never consider that ‘the people they purport to serve may, in fact, perceive them as chancers, careerists or charlatans’. It’s certainly true that, much of what Scotland calls ‘community engagement’ amounts to the intrusion of a municipal culture which disrespects local autonomy; in real-time though, austerity has almost wiped out such community work.
A devastating denouncement of the potential harm done by middle-class ‘poverty tourists’ is in the Senscot archive’ it’s a talk given in 1968 by Ivan Illich (that great critic of the institutions of western culture); talking to American students, bound for a gap year in South America, he begs them not to go: “I am here to entreat you to use your money, your status, your education to travel in Latin America. Come to look, to climb our mountains, enjoy our flowers. Come to study – but do not come to help”.
This week is the last week of our annual invite for financial donations from readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin. Over 100 individuals have now signed up as full company members. Around 30 organisations have also joined as associate members. If you’d still like to join, see members page.
It’s only three months since Prof Philip Alston (UN Special Rapporteur) highlighted that 14 million people in the UK live in poverty – 1.5 million in destitution; he said that Tory policies on austerity and taxation make this situation a ‘political choice’ – which he described as a disgrace. According to JRF research, two thirds of children in poverty live in working families – which certainly is unacceptable; making the voluntary living wage, of £9 per hour, the norm – is an important first step. Encouraging this week to hear a plan has been launched, by local business and civic leaders, to make Dundee the UK’s ‘first living wage city’.
I’m repeatedly fascinated by the theme of re-populating Scotland’s islands; is it desirable, or even possible, to ‘socially engineer’ a new community; according to whose principles – philosophical, economic, political? But mostly I find it a theme of hope. Excellent, perceptive article by Dani Garavelli, who visited Ulva to see how the recent buy-out is progressing. She titles it ‘Apply now if you want to live on Ulva – population five’. Before its buy-out, Alastair McIntosh did a piece on Ulva, strong on its history; a veteran of Scotland’s land reform, McIntosh identifies the four main benefits that drive community buy-outs.
Whilst not as noticeable up here – last week saw the death knell in England, of three of the Tory Party’s major privatisation projects: NHS Reforms (2012); Probation Service Reforms (2013); Army Recruitment (2012); devastating failure of the central idea of Tory Party thinking. In his Observer piece this week, Will Hutton attributes these failures to the incompatibility of values – profit maximisation as opposed to the ‘public benefit’ values of our health service, probation service, armed services. Hutton says that we should pay taxes, sufficient for the services we want – for diversity of delivery, we can invite our third sector.
In his long essay ‘The Right to Useful Unemployment’, Ivan Illich is again challenging our key assumptions; decades later he’s still relevant – preparing us all for the inevitable end of paid employment:
“The quality of a society and of its culture will depend on the status of its unemployed…work done off the paid job is looked down upon if not ignored. Work no longer means the creation of a value perceived by the worker but mainly a job, which is a social relationship. Unemployment means sad idleness, rather than the freedom to do things that are useful for oneself or for one’s neighbour. An active woman who runs a house and brings up children and takes in those of others is distinguished from a woman who ‘works,’ no matter how useless or damaging the product of this work might be.”
Social Firms Scotland and Senscot have been active members of the EU SEN since 2013. This week, the 11th meeting of the Network took place in Edinburgh with delegates from 11 different EU states. As well as visiting Edinburgh-based SEs – Edinburgh Remakery; Grassmarket Community Project – the event heard from Minister, Aileen Campbell, on our SE Strategy and support infrastructure. Other themes covered included the network of local and thematic SENs; the circular economy; measuring social impact; and social innovation. Scotland’s engagement in this network has been of real benefit over the years and – despite the uncertainties of Brexit – we hope to continue to share learning and working together with our European colleagues – in a spirit of solidarity and collaboration.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
The TSI Conference 2019 took place yesterday at Murrayfield Stadium on the theme – Collaboration for Local Leadership. As always, the event was an opportunity to reflect on some of the major issues affecting the third sector. It was also an opportunity for further discussion around the new TSI Outcome Frameworks. Senscot, itself, participated in a workshop, along with the Govt’s Third Sector Division, that gave TSIs the opportunity to reflect and comment on the SE Strategy and Action Plan – via a SWOT analysis. Comments and observations etc will be fed into the shaping of the next Action Plan. See twitter feed .
Following last week’s meeting of the SE Code Steering Group, the website will be getting a bit of a ‘facelift’ – nothing dramatic, just refreshing some core text and adding some online testimonials. The Steering Group also got an update on recent discussions regarding a ‘Raising the Profile’ initiative for social enterprise in Scotland. See note of meeting. If you’d like to show your support for the Code, see subscribe link.
P4P was set up to support social enterprises and third sector organisations to better access public procurement and other contracting opportunities through partnerships and consortia. As part of its work, P4P has produced this Procurement Briefing Note as a guide for organisation interested in securing
public contracts through collaboration. For more info on this, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
CEIS announced this week that Ian Mitchell will be replacing Gerry Higgins as their new CEO. Ian is a familiar face to many in the sector – playing a key role in supporting the formation of a number of organisations who make up our support infrastructure. Since then, Ian has gone on to hold a number of senior positions within Govt. Everyone at Senscot wishes Ian the very best in his new role. See Press Release.
This year’s Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme (SSE), supported by Lloyds Banking Group, is now open for applications. Successful applicants receive grant support to start up or develop an enterprise; access to a learning programme with SSE; and a dedicated mentor from Lloyds Banking Group.
This week’s bulletin profiles a community-led enterprise that works in partnership with communities, public agencies, and private organisations to design and implement projects that make a difference to people and landscapes of Argyll and the Isles. Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT) facilitates a wide range of projects that cover conservation, tourism, and health and wellbeing – all contributing to achieving its vision of a coastal and countryside environment that is valued and to be enjoyed by everyone. Since it was established in 2013, ACT has received support from a number of public bodies – but, in the last twelve months, has seen over 20% of its income being self-generated.