Dear members and friends,
Some years ago, waiting my turn to speak at some public meeting, I had a panic attack: pulse racing, I froze – thought I might faint. For the occasional stressful event, my GP explained, the drug Diazepam (Valium) is useful – lowers heartrate and general anxiety: I now get one prescription a year – 28 x 2mg tablets – very helpful. One year, when I tried for a second batch, I got a surprisingly stiff reprimand about the dangers of addiction etc. Never tried again.
I mention my NHS incident in the context of America’s opioid catastrophe, where, it seems, giant pharma companies flooded communities with addictive painkillers – thousands have died. Health care in the USA is less of a service than a profit-driven industry – controlled by corporations selling drugs, insurance, hospital beds etc. But recent events suggest that even ‘over there’, peak neo-liberalism has passed. I’m starting to believe that we are entering a period – when in order to prosper – businesses will need to provide tangible benefit for people and planet. (startling letter from editor of FT).
In a week where I was unable to watch either the Solheim Cup or the Test Match (paywalls) I return to one of my hobbyhorses – the widening gap between television watched by rich and poor people. This short Guardian piece is about the new wave of subscription TV streaming companies – listed and costed at a total of £120 a month. I believe that so few households and children cross the golf TV paywall that the game is disappearing from Scotland’s unique linksland, where it began.
We Brits do period drama well: The Forsyth Saga, 1967; Upstairs Downstairs, 1971; Brideshead Revisited, 1981; The Downton Abbey brand rumbles on. These ‘entertainments’ are all about the mystique of the English ruling class – who go to public school and Oxbridge and control everything. Fortunately, my life also encountered people like Jimmy Reid, Mick McGahey, Margo McDonald (roughly a dozen models) from whom I learned different stories – about working people and their struggles for justice and democracy. Brexit has convinced me, that reactionary ‘deep England’ is as entrenched as ever ( out of 55 PMs, Johnston is the 20th from Eton). This ‘rigged system’ makes Scottish independence inevitable – and they know it.
The Autumn Newsletter of Community Land Scotland evokes a successful, expanding sector – which turns out to be more ‘placid’ than I expected. I imagined our ‘Land Reform’ journey as a series of turbulent confrontations – like the Save Loch Lomond campaign at Balloch (Flamingo Land has withdrawn its application – tactical?). The main general limiter of community ownership is lack of funds – and the Scottish Land Commission has published useful research. The report’s Executive Summary identifies 13 funding model options; the aim must be to put in place the level of support – to enable the likes of the residents of Balloch to develop their land themselves.
Early Facebook backer, Roger McNamee (dubbed Zuckerberg’s mentor) was interviewed on Channel 4 News last week; this six-minute interview is the best summary I’ve heard of the huge problems at the heart of the global platform: he says, “I’m incredibly sad at the state of the media company”.
For the last seven years, Scotland’s Poverty Alliance has co-ordinated a Challenge Poverty Week – this year, it’s the 7th-13th October. If you’d like to join the 130 organisations who participated last year – here’s the info. On Friday 11th October, the Senscot Bulletin (number 999) will be themed around poverty.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was, in my opinion, one of America’s most important contemporary writers – fearless. He was 47 when his darkly satiric anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five thrust him into fame.
“1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.”
Yesterday, in Edinburgh, saw a joint meeting of the Health and Cultural Roundtables, see Agenda and delegate list. The meeting follows on from a recent Joint Thematic SEN meeting, a Community Learning Exchange to Project Ability – with another scheduled for next week, to Reachout. On the back of these, a Parliamentary Cross Party Group will be taking place on 8th October – with the focus on Collaborative Culture and Person Centred Healthcare . This theme will also be the subject of our next Briefing – highlighting how cultural and art activity contributes to improving health and wellbeing outcomes within local communities. We are keen to hear from any SEN members who contribute towards this agenda and can demonstrate the impact they are making. If you’d like to get involved, please contact Mary or Sarah.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
Our Conference (25th and 26th Nov) is now taking shape. The Draft Programme has been updated – with the final programme expected to be agreed by end of September. The Conference is being jointly hosted by Senscot, Social Firms Scotland and Scottish Community Alliance. Our theme is ‘Building Community Wealth and Wellbeing – the Role for Social and Community Enterprise’. As well as hearing about the work in this area from CLES, we will also hear from Scottish Govt and, specifically, on the experiences in North Ayrshire where the model is being piloted by the local authority. A varied range of workshops are planned – as well as our customary Dragons’ Den. Further updates will follow over the coming weeks – but if you’d like to sign up now, you can book your place here, see registration form.
Additional dates have now been set for our series of local consultation events – aimed at helping to inform and shape the next SE Action Plan – due in April 2020. Edinburgh – 24th Oct; Dundee – 22nd Oct; and two events in Dumfries and Galloway – 21st and 28th Oct. Discussion on other events in Moray and in Inverness are ongoing. Further venue and time details – next week. See recurring themes and comments to date.
Last week, we covered a piece where the Social Enterprise Academy was looking to reach out to those in the sector with a view to joining their Board – as they are aware of the need of those involved in frontline social enterprises to help shape and inform its future. This week, the Academy is again reaching out to the sector to inform of their new Strategic Partnership Fund (SPF), established in partnership with Scottish Government. SPF is designed to make learning and development more affordable to community groups, membership organisations and social enterprise networks delivering services across Scotland. See further details.
Frontline News: Congratulations to Scotland’s first social enterprise lettings agency – Homes for Good – on its award of £2.4m funding from the National Lottery to roll out its successful model across the UK: ‘Brand for Growth’ – a competitive programme, delivered by BOLD, for SEs looking to strengthen their brand to help with ongoing sustainability and growth. Closing date – Monday 7th October: Last week, Glasgow City Council put forward a motion on its SE Strategy and Action Plan. All amendments were agreed – putting social enterprise at the heart of the city’s economic strategy. See Video (skip to 1 hr 40mins).
This week’s bulletin profiles the first social enterprise to set up inside a Scottish prison. Freedom Bakery is a Scottish artisan bakery which aims to break the cycle of reoffending by providing training and employment opportunities for people who have recently left prison. Established in 2015 at HMP Low Moss, within a year Freedom was able to open a purpose-built bakery in Glasgow following a successful fundraiser – and continues to work with inmates from Greenock, Barlinnie and Low Moss prisons. Freedom specialises in slow fermentation bread, whole selling a wide range of sourdoughs, pastries and breads to Glasgow West End favourites such as Stravaigan, Roots & Fruits and Ubiquitous Chip – as well as to Glasgow-based SEN members Project Café, Locavore and the Milk Café.