Dear members and friends,
My favourite news presenter/interviewer is Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News (courteous, fair – but don’t mess!!). Here’s a five-minute clip, of Newman interviewing Yuval Noah Harari, about what he considers the current three greatest threats to humanity. My first glimpse of the Israeli historian/writer; impressive.
Google started at the same time as Senscot – the end of 1998 – I’ve used it most days since; allowing roughly five daily searches, for 20 years – comes to around 35,000. Harari says, that the predictive algorithm which scans this data, already knows me better than I know myself – it’s already filtering me ‘targeted’ advertising. He merges this with expected advances in biotechnology (less convincing). Imagine, in the future, that it becomes a condition of free health care, that all citizens must wear a biometric bracelet; then the state (or whoever) could hack the organic operating systems of humans themselves.
Newman asks Harari for his advice to young people about future employment trends; he emphasises ‘volatility’ – that the future will require increased ability to adapt – to continuously retrain and reinvent ourselves. Some people (myself) enjoy the adrenaline of being around new stuff – but I realise that the level of uncertainty is not for everyone. I often feel that the young today inherit a much more stressful world than I did. Not just the general pace of change; the relentless digital ‘stalking’; but everywhere the encroachment of crude market forces. Not just a market ‘economy’ – but a market ‘society’ – everything up for sale.
Because Nicola Sturgeon is such a class act – able to keep factionalism to a minimum – the SNP had the best of the autumn Party Conferences; and my enthusiasm for independence got a wee top-up. Despite modern technology, we don’t know if there were 10k marching in Edinburgh (police estimate) or 100k (organisers’ estimate) – but can we now assume that Police Scotland vote No? Conference accepted that there are still too many ‘moving parts’ around Brexit, to major on independence – wait a bit. Instead the SNP sensibly faced left – towards Labour in a potential General Election; the ‘Fair Work First’ theme playing well. The SNP team presents as harmonious and reliable – mostly honest and competent; we’ve had a lot worse. Here’s Iain Macwhirter’s take on things.
The three greatest threats to humanity cited by Noah Harari (above) include global warming – the subject of Monday’s report from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This is the response of Professor Kevin Anderson of Manchester Uni – who basically thinks that the central issue has, once again, been fudged – that climate change is ultimately a rationing issue. Over half of all carbon emissions arise from the activities of around 10% of the global population: the lifestyle of the equivalent, average european citizen. He wants to impose a limit on our per capita carbon footprint, to achieve a quick global reduction.
Making some kind of bed in a shop doorway is an act of desperation – often linked to addiction, mental illness or childhood trauma; the Ferret reminder, that desperate individuals are closer to death, should not surprise us. Our collective response to homelessness is a measure of the compassion of our society.
Famous accountancy, legal, finance corporations (obscene salaries) openly promote a corrosive, greedy capitalism; Why do some third sector organisations help them pretend they are harmless – ‘cos they’re not! Excellent reminder this week from the new chair of the Charity Commission, that the public has justified, higher expectations of charities – that they behave ethically.
William McIlvanney (1936-2015) was from Kilmarnock but loved Glasgow. In ‘The Papers of Tony Veitch’, he portrayed the city in the 1970s.
“From his vantage point in Ruchill Park, Laidlaw looked out over the city. He could see so much of it from here and still it baffled him. ‘What is this place?’ he thought. A small and great city, his mind answered. A city with its face against the wind. That made it grimace. But did it have to be so hard? Sometimes it felt so hard…It was a place so kind it would batter cruelty into the ground. And what circumstances kept giving it was cruelty. No wonder he loved it. It danced among its own debris. When Glasgow gave up, the world could call it a day.”
One of the commitments within the SE Action Plan is how to “enable more consumers, public authorities and businesses to understand and purchase from social enterprises”. In short, this is about exploring an agreed ‘awareness raising’ campaign – that the sector itself can gather round and lend its support to. Social Enterprise Scotland (SES) and Social Value Lab (SVL) have been leading on this piece of work – establishing a working group as well as carrying out a study to identify the most effective and appropriate way to take this forward. The study set out with no pre-determined solutions – looking to see if there is a case for such a campaign. Some existing ‘labels’ or ‘brands’ have also been given some consideration. The main challenges hinge on finding a way forward that would have ‘buy-in’ and support from a genuine majority of the sector – not having something imposed upon them to suit the interests of others; and whether or not this same campaign could cover the promotion of products to the general public (i.e competing on the high street) and, simultaneously, also promote the work of the overwhelming majority of SE services which are being delivered within local communities. The final report is due out shortly.
Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.
Social Prescribing has been gaining greater recognition across Scotland in recent years for the value of its contribution to tackling pressing social issues including loneliness, social isolation and depression. The contribution of Health SEN members in this area has been highlighted in our recent Senscot Briefings on this topic as well as the Social Prescribing Project being operated by the Scottish Communities Health and Wellbeing Alliance (SCHWA). This week saw further evidence of this recognition with GPs in Shetland being authorised to issue ‘nature prescriptions’ to patients to help treat chronic conditions. NHE Shetland is not suggesting these replace conventional medicines – but act more as a supplement to normal treatments.
Assist Social Capital and Napier University’s Bright Red Triangle hosted a senior Vietnamese delegation this week – over to hear about our SE infrastructure in Scotland. In doing so, they were treated to a series of presentation from some familiar faces from our SE landscape. The Vietnamese themselves are still very much in the ‘developmental stage’ but see social enterprise as an important model as they seek to meet their sustainable development goals in the decades ahead. Their ‘systems thinking’ approach (8 pages if you’re in the mood) – gives some context and analysis to how social enterprise would fit within their wider economy.
Social impact is one of these terms bandied about with some gusto by funders, investors and others looking to shape and/or influence the social enterprise landscape. As anyone close to the sector knows, those making the most impact are just getting on with delivering their services as best they can in local communities across the country. Nonetheless, frontline organisations are coming under increasing pressure to evidence and promote their ‘social impact’. Community Enterprise and the Social Audit Network are hosting a debate on 25th Oct in Edinburgh on this very subject, titled ‘Social Impact: What’s the Point?’. The event is free.
This week’s bulletin profiles one of Scotland’s many faith-based social enterprises which operates as a residential conference centre, holiday centre and community venue for everyone. The Atholl Centre, in Pitlochry, is able to accommodate up to 40 folk – either for small or larger groups. For residentials, they also have meeting/conference space for gatherings of between 60 and 130 delegates. The Atholl Centre is also popular with school group as well as for people who may require time away either with a carer or on their own. As a social enterprise, any profits are ploughed back into both providing better service through improvements in structure and facilities and into supporting less able, less advantaged and chronically ill users of their services through subsidies.