Dear members and friends,
On BBC 4 recently, poet Simon Armitage shared his enthusiasm for Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey – one of the earliest texts of western civilisation. If it were possible to erase all memory of human history – I’m convinced that pretty much the same mythology would re-emerge; that our inherited brain structure contains memories and impulses common to our entire species. Carl Jung called this the ‘collective unconscious’ – subliminal ‘archetypes’ which have a profound influence on our lives.
In 1911, the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy wrote ‘Ithaca’ – inspired by the Homeric return journey of Odysseus to his home island (see end piece). To Homer, and the Greeks in general, it is not the actual island, but the ‘idea’ of Ithaca that’s important – life as a journey – a quest; Cavafy’s poem urges us to enjoy it. I sometimes wonder what influences shaped my own strange journey: subliminal archetypes? The genes I inherited? Did my ‘gliding childhood’ strike a rock?
The nature/nurture debate will continue for all time – but the advances in brain science, tilt me more towards ‘nurture’. The impact of ‘attachment’ on very early brain development – is the ‘revelation’ of my lifetime; surely, it’s the ‘unattached’ who go ‘exploring’. “Having nothing to love at home, they locate their love elsewhere, in other lands, where their fervour astonishes the natives”. It seems that the source of the energy which drives human progress – comes from the part of us all, which seeks a place to belong; some of us more fervent than others.
I honestly hadn’t realised how troubled the UK economy is – investment, growth, wages – all falling; as will Scotland’s block grant – continue to reduce. It seems that the UK is £45bn worse off than predicted. The Chancellor attempted a brave face – but the Budget numbers are dire. The rest of the world’s doing better than us – so we must be looking at Brexit consequences – which the Tories are simply incapable of resolving. Without a clear idea of the trigger – my sense is that we’re heading for a general election – which Corbyn will win – a whole new raft of anxieties; but hey! a big splurge might be just what’s required.
As Education Secretary, John Swinney has introduced the £120m Pupil Equity Funding (PEF). It is based on the principle that schools serving our most financially stressed families should benefit from additional resources; most importantly, that these schools themselves are best placed to choose which additional services to purchase. The principle of devolving such decisions to front line practitioners is most welcome – but is the core intention being implemented? How influential, in practice, are head teachers? I have seen separate ‘update reports’ on PEF to both Edinburgh and Glasgow Councils: pages of protocols to centralise and control. I hope Mr Swinney’s monitoring the roll-out of his bold and inspired measure.
If, like me, you are hooked on the ancient concept of the ‘commons’ – the right of ordinary people to the means of livelihood and shelter – I highly commend this piece in the Guardian by Felicity Lawrence. She references the 800-year old ‘Charter of the Forest’; a major constitutional victory in 1217 – restricting the wealthy elite from privatising natural resources. Then she flags up a modern ‘charter of the commons’ – around a basic income and affordable housing, energy, water. Lawrence suggests that elites around the world are worried they have ‘over-reached’ –that the equality gap is too great for their own safety.
For a decade, Senscot has been cautioning the third sector that much of what calls itself ‘social investment’ works in reverse; rather than greater social and environmental benefit – it is encouraging social organisations to become responsive to the motivations of capital. Good blog from the ‘Power to Change’ organisation.
Benefit claimants, worried about being ‘sanctioned’, can download an excellent booklet here – drafted by poverty groups and public agencies in collaboration: ‘Everything you wanted to know about sanctions and were afraid to ask’. I can’t help referencing the chilling reality of Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake.’
JOBS: The Pollockshields Trust, Rebuild, Social Enterprise Academy, Homeless World Cup Foundation, Leith Community Crop in Pots, Beacon Arts Centre
EVENTS: Branding for Beginners, 29 Nov; Just Enterprise: Introduction to Selling, 05 Dec; SE Conference – Collaborating towards a Sharing Economy, 7th Dec; Leading Growth for Senior Leaders, 19th Dec
TENDERS: Provision of Self-Management, Care and Support Planning Services – NHS Grampian, Independent Advocacy Mental Health – West Lothian Council, Child Wellbeing and Protection in Sport –Sportscotland – Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: This week sees the publication of the fourth in our series of Policy Briefings – Cinema and Community Regeneration: the role of social enterprise. This Briefing highlights the regenerative effects that local cinema can have on communities, bringing about positive social change through a range of activities. There is a growing recognition that community cinema, at a national and local level, can play an important role in tackling cultural isolation, improving health and well-being and sustaining community cohesion. The Briefing identifies the specific contribution social enterprise makes citing examples via three case studies of community-run cinema: Driftwood (Dumfries and Galloway); The Birks (Aberfeldy); North East Arts Touring (Aberdeenshire).
Our SE Conference (7th / 8th Dec) is now full up for ‘overnighters’– with places now only available in event of cancellations. A few day delegate places still available. If interested – or if you’d like to go on our reserve list, email Karina@senscot.net. A last-minute reminder that the Dragons’ Den Application deadline is today – 5pm. Shortlisting will take place on Monday. Our Delegate Pack is just about complete – with some final tweaking over the next week. The final session on Friday morning – Spotlight on Failure – will address some of the myths and reality of sustainability amongst SEs. A clear message from the recent SE Census 2017 was the number of SEs in Scotland operating on very tight margins – 41% operated at a loss in 2016/17; and, over the last two years, 470 SEs are no longer in existence. This session will look at how we can help SEs address some of these issues through collaboration and a mutually supportive environment.
SCRT was established in 2014. Its primary objective was to explore how our wider third sector could pool its financial resources to support one another – via community re-investment. The principle of community re-investment is to allow organisations with money to lend to those needing money – thereby allowing us all (lenders and borrowers) to maximise our impact in communities across Scotland. SCRT is now delighted to announce its first ‘Community Bond’ – for re-investment in SEN members. To be formally launched at our SE Conference on 7th Dec., investments will establish a SEN Loan Fund to provide micro; unsecured; low cost and patient loans to SEN members. Bonds will be available from £50 for a single bond – repayable upon maturity. For more info’ on the SEN Community Bond and how to invest, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although a community worker, I deplore the inaccessible language (jargon) of my profession – the academics are the worst. Darren McGarvey, author of Poverty Safari, comes across as the ‘real thing’ – but why use the pretentious language of the ‘poverty industry’. You can judge for yourself; his piece about the troubles of Govanhill – in Tuesday’s Scotsman – has the authority of direct knowledge – a good pitch of anger – but there’s something about the language.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new venture in the town of Bowling in West Dunbartonshire. Lodestone Works was established in 2017 as a hub for social enterprises and entrepreneurial activity. They work with freelancers, start-ups, creatives and established companies – renting out desk/meeting space as well as studio hire. Their ambition is to develop this further – creating a venue that will raise the profile of small businesses in West Dunbartonshire, supporting one another, and opening up space for new ideas to develop and grow. Operating as a social enterprise itself, all profits generated by Lodestone Works will be re-invested in the Bowling Harbour Project to support a range of its activities.
This piece is from ‘Ithaca’ (English spelling) by C.P. Cavafy. His message seems to be that the point of life is not simply to reach a destination – but to enjoy the journey.
“As you set out for Ithaca, hope your road is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery… Keep Ithaca always in your mind. Arriving there is what you are destined for. But do not hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you are old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you have gained on the way, not expecting Ithaca to make you rich. Ithaca gave you the marvellous journey. Without her you wouldn’t have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.”
That’s all for this week.
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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210