Dear members and friends,
In stunning Autumn sunlight, I was burning leaves this week – leaf smoke like incense. I have one of those garden incinerators – a galvanised bucket with holes, wee legs and a chimney lid; I light a log fire in the bottom third – when it’s established, you can just add leaves – for hours. Old age brings the gift of a heightened sensitivity, to the moods of the seasons; the mournful tenderness of Autumn has great appeal, because it suits ‘remembering’ so well; Flaubert wrote: ‘ it’s sweet to watch the final fading of the fires which until recently burnt within you’. Autumn’s other ‘reminder’ is a more practical one (and much older) – ‘that the winter months are the deadliest’ – particularly for the old and infirm. In his wise and courageous ‘Being Mortal’, Atul Gawande argues that we have become profoundly disconnected from the ‘normality’ of death – that we should focus less on prolonging life, and more on making it meaningful; that we have a responsibility to be more honest with the dying, help them plan their end, including, occasionally, assisted death. I don’t want readers to think I’m ready to ‘chuck-it’, my life is still a good one; but I know of people who, justifiably, want theirs to end – I speak for them and for myself, should the time ever come. Meantime we soldier on; I got the flu jab this week, car got MOT, heating oil delivered, even new thermal undies! We stay operational – ready to ‘hunker doon’ for the survival months.
The political world is too hectic just now – my brain’s had enough of Brexit – but I can’t ignore the UN Rapporteur Philip Alston’s searing denunciation of Austerity Britain. He concluded this week, that ‘punitive, mean-spirited and often callous’ policies have inflicted great misery on our most vulnerable citizens; but, even worse, that austerity was not driven by economic necessity, but by a political desire to sweep away significant elements of Britain’s post-war social contract. Moral philosopher Mary Warnock wrote: “Society needs morality, and at the very centre of morality is not being greedy – not taking too much for yourself – realising that other people are just as important as us”. My sense is that our young people realise this – that at present levels, inequality in the UK is immoral.
I remember well and admired the playing career of Welsh Internationalist, Gareth Thomas; I also admire his dignified, emotional reaction this week when he was attacked for his sexuality on the streets of Cardiff – a hate crime. Thomas was certainly angry, but asked that the police take the course of ‘restorative justice’ – a dialogue between the victim and the perpetrator/s – ‘because some good may come of it’. In Scotland, we live with a political culture which normalises venemous insult – nastiness; our public leaders should be more like Gareth Thomas.
The field where I laboured most of my life, is called different names – third sector, voluntary sector, social economy, community sector, civil society, social enterprise sector etc – all with overlapping, but distinct needs. Scottish Govt recognises a ‘single interface’ distributor in our 32 local authorities – each, unsurprisingly, with its own priorities; I often feel that our ‘collective sector’ lacks an independent voice. Over the past two years, over 3000 people have contributed to an independent inquiry called Civil Society Futures – looking at what’s required to make our ‘collective sector’ fit for purpose. While its final report doesn’t cover Scotland – many of the issues will be identical.
In ‘Being Mortal’, Atul Gawande prioritises the importance of ‘autonomy’ in the ‘quality of life’ of the elderly. This is the simple ‘vision’ of an old woman Jessie who had suffered a stroke.
“ She wanted a small place with a little kitchen and a bathroom. It would have her favourite things in it, including her cat, the unfinished projects, her Vicks VapoRub, a coffee-pot, and cigarettes. There would be people to help her with the things she couldn’t do without help. In the imaginary place, she would be able to lock her door, control her heat, and have her own furniture. No one would make her get up, turn off her favourite TV soaps, or ruin her clothes. She would be Jessie again, a person living in as apartment, instead of a patient in bed”.
Audit Scotland’s recent Report on progress with Health and Social Care Integration suggests much is still to be done. Whilst undoubted progress has been made in some areas – it is clear that challenges remain in terms of financial pressures; strategic planning; sharing of information; and, importantly, the level of collaboration and engagement between politicians, staff and local communities. This last point is not new to Health SEN members – with little or no reference often being made to locally-based organisations. Our series of Briefings showcase the wide range of community-based, preventative services that SEs provide – often applying a whole system approach. With Public Health Reform now underway, there is a concern that, despite recognising the value of the sector, the necessary transformations will not emerge. Significant investments have been made in both public sector and third sector intermediaries. For genuine progress, these investments need to filter down to the frontline. Senscot plans to meet with the Public Health Reform team to discuss these matters. If you would like to participate, please email email@example.com.
Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.
Next week, Scottish Govt’s Third Sector Division hosts its 4th SE Action Plan Reference Group – made up of statutory agencies; support bodies; and national intermediaries. It has been set up to act as a forum for ‘stakeholders’ to reflect on the progress of our SE Action Plan – see agenda and attendee list. The idea of a having a dedicated SE Strategy is spreading and, last week in Manchester, saw the launch of a SE Strategy for Greater Manchester. The work has been led by Greater Manchester SEN – working in tandem with public, private and third sectors. SE anoraks will notice some striking similarities between the Scottish and Mancunian Strategies. These shared understandings and aspirations augur well for future collaborations.
There has been a growing awareness of the important role community-based sports organisations play in contributing to the wider health and well-being of local communities. This role was recognised earlier this year with the launch of the Changing Lives Fund – a partnership between Scottish Govt, sportscotland, the Robertson Trust and Spirit of 2012. Last week, the Fund announced over £1m was being allocated to 17 organisations nationally – including a number of Sport SEN members – each using the power of sport to effect positive change in communities. Next Sport SEN meeting – 17th Jan. For info, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The next Tourism Cross Party Group (CPG) takes place at the Parliament on Tuesday, 11th De. The purpose of this CPG is to highlight and promote the Scottish Tourism industry – with this session having a particular focus on social enterprise. Senscot will be participating – highlighting the work and impact of Tourism SEN members via our recent Senscot Briefing on Community Tourism. In addition, FVSE will provide an update on their work – including organising and managing the Stirling Games and the Sruighlea Festival.
The 16th Homeless World Cup in Mexico ended up in a clean sweep for the hosts with Mexico winning both the men’s and women’s tournaments. Next year’s event is closer to home – being hosted in Cardiff.
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in South West Scotland that specialises in activity holidays and outdoor activities for all ages and abilities. Adventure Carrick is part of the charity Adventure Centre for Education (ACE) based in Girvan – but providing its range of activities across the length and breadth of south west Scotland. Open all year round, Adventure Carrick has the ability to be completely mobile in terms of venues offered and being flexible in its approach to respective itineraries. This flexibility is reflected in its provision of activities available – hillwalking in Arran; canoeing in Girvan; mountain-biking in Newton Stewart etc. In addition, they also cater also for short breaks within the UNESCO Southern Scotland Biosphere.