Dear members and friends,
Item in the Daily Record this week about the death, in his native Italy, of Michele Cocozza, aged 88. In 1953, he opened the Cross Café in Rutherglen which became part of local folklore; his son Don, has been astonished by the number of warm tributes posted on the Rutherglen Facebook page from people remembering Michele’s kindness to their parents etc. Many bulletin readers will likely have fond memories of the Italian café which served their community – where they hung out – but sadly, times are changing. Education opens up many more congenial lifestyles – fewer young Scottish Italians are attracted to the extreme demands of the catering trade; gradually the dedication invested by that early generation of café pioneers – their contribution of Scottish cultural life – will be forgotten.
I don’t mean to suggest that those early Italian families demonstrated any exceptional benificence; my grandparents were semi-literate ‘contadini’ from a background of degrading poverty – I’m proud of my birth tribe – they opened a café to improve our lives; honest, basic, god-fearing people – only unusual in that they were prepared to work incredibly long hours. On the Main Streets of hundreds of Scottish towns – the Italian café was probably open from dawn to dusk; as a consequence, the good ones afforded a convivial gathering point for the town – a hub for generations of informal community life. In times when our Town Centres shrink to oblivion – it’s not difficult to understand how they were held in affection and will be missed; or that Rutherglen this week remembered Michele Cocozza.
Senscot’s annual invitation for financial donations from readers wishing to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin has now passed the halfway stage – last couple of weeks! 87 individuals have signed up to date – giving an average of £25 to become full company members. Each year, we target 100 – so around 20 to go. Senscot’s board is elected by and is accountable to these members. We also invite donations from individuals (donors) or organisations (associate members) who simply want to support what we do. Please check here – if we have missed your name out. To join or donate, see members page.
‘The Long Affair between the Working Class and the Intellectual-Cultural Left is Over’. The title of this article (by Bo Rothstein in Social Europe) seems to capture what’s happening in our politics – with recent elections suggesting that both halves of this long alliance are now moving in almost opposite directions. The classic Marxist prediction, that the working class would be the historic driver of Capitalism’s replacement – a new socio-economic means of production – has simply not happened. The article points towards a form of ‘economic democracy’ – an acknowledgement that in advanced sectors of the economy, capital is now more dependent on the skills and creativity of employees than vice versa. Similarly, with the organisation of public services – does the shared ownership model of workers’ co-operatives and the like point the way?
I saw Alex Salmond interviewed on Sunday Politics – standing confidently beside some rural bridge; his ‘style’ on independence is more assertive than our First Minister – they do an effective good cop/bad cop routine. Iain Macwhirter’s piece is about Ruth and Kezia in London this week, rehearsing their attacks on the ‘Nationalists’ but they won’t be joining forces this time – ‘better untogether’ is the new strapline. Salmond said that autumn 2018 is the likely date for IndyRef 2 – but there hasn’t been an announcement yet – and as Macwhirter says – the real arguments won’t start till the svelte lady sings – and Nicola is still clearing her throat.
I’m a privately educated, middle class, community worker, not a socialist, but a progressive social democrat – committed to the free movement of labour and the human rights of minority groups. I represent, almost exactly, the liberal left constituency currently being rejected in favour of populist right wing politics. Tony Blair’s New Labour – instead of seeking more radical alternatives – made peace with market fundamentalism; subsequent policies led to the unravelling of the social contract and rampant inequality. Both Brexit and Trump were protest votes from electorates who felt they had nothing left to lose. This fairly long piece, from a clever woman, Karin Pettersson – tries to evaluate how we got into this mess.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php this week:
JOBS: Daisy Drop In, Firstport, Bruntsfield Community Greengrocers – Digin, Creative Carbon Scotland, Community Enterprise, Mull and Iona Community Trust, Eco Drama, Social Investment Scotland
EVENTS: Aberfoyle Trail Race 2017, 18 Feb; Leading Growth for Aspiring Leaders, 23 Feb; Getting Private Sector contracts – A Third Sector perspective, 23 Feb; Social Enterprise workshops – Annan, 23 Feb;
TENDERS: Specialist Children Services – Pre and Post Bereavement Services, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Challenge Fund – Childcare, Stirling Council; Community Based Support – East Ayrshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Last week, Cabinet Secretary, Angela Constance announced a £1m funding package of ‘early actions’ in advance of the impending SE Action Plan. One of these ‘early actions’ is the establishment of a ‘Partnership and Procurement Hub’ which will strive to improve the sector’s ability to collaborate and tender for contracts. This project is a partnership between Senscot, Social Firms Scotland, Scottish Community Alliance and Co-operative Development Scotland and will build on the existing work of our current Partnership and Procurement Co-ordinator, George McConnachie. George’s work involves delivering workshops across Scotland; one to one support; co-ordination of shared learning from existing consortia and direct support to emerging consortia – and has included working with groups of SEs in Argyll and Bute; Glasgow; West Lothian and East Lothian amongst others. More info on this over coming weeks.
A cautionary tale about Universal Basic Income (UBI) – warning that the term is used, confusingly, to mean different things – including by political right wingers motivated to remove social protection. Also news that Glasgow Council has approved a feasibility study for the spring – to explore how Glasgow might become the first UK city to pilot UBI for citizens.
The French economist Thomas Piketty has described how – in a world where return on capital outpaces the level of growth – we are witnessing an explosion of inequality; he argues that the continual accumulation of assets by the already rich – will lead to the destabilisation of Western democracies. A Scottish Govt survey revealed this week that the wealthiest 1% now own more than the bottom 50%; the increase of private wealth since the 2008 crash has almost entirely benefitted the wealthy – those with assets. There are excellent examples of countries the size of Scotland which are wealthier and fairer. But to emulate them we would need to find a new will to address inequality.
The Times carried an interesting interview this week with Peter Mathieson – who has resigned as President of Hong Kong University and, at a ‘substantial pay cut’, is expected to take over Edinburgh University early next year. He explained that he was the first member of his family to benefit from a university education and has promised to take radical action to drive up the number of students Edinburgh attracts from deprived communities.
The 2015 SE Census told us that 7% of Scottish SEs are working internationally – which would work out at over 300. One of them, the Social Enterprise Academy works in places such as Australia, China, Malaysia and South Africa. We hear this week that it has now formalised its partnerships in Pakistan with a MoU.
This week’s bulletin profiles a Health SEN member, providing services for disabled people across North Glasgow – with membership ranging in age from 5 to 75. Set up in 1984, Possobilities has developed into one of the most respected community health organisations in the city through its growing role as a community hub and, of late, in establishing a series of enterprising ventures that include Cook ‘n’ Care and The Steamie. Possobilities most recent initiative is exploring the potential of setting up a specialist gym to meet the particular needs of frail, older and disabled people – as well, of course, for the wider community.
At the end of 2014, Ursula le Guin was honoured in the USA National Book Awards; her short acceptance speech was typically inspirational.
"Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality………..Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words…….but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom."
That’s all for this week.
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