“Humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blaise Pascal wrote these, oft quoted, words in the mid 1600’s; he said that we fear the silence of existence, we dread boredom and instead choose aimless distraction. He lived, of course, before telephone, radio, TV, the internet etc; the ‘distractions’ now available are beyond his imagination; we now live in a world where we are connected to everything, except ourselves. Pascal’s insight was that most of us never learn the art of solitude – which means that many won’t cope with the strict isolation now in force; from the current lockdown, we should expect widespread mental health issues; the community singing in housing estates around the world is instinctive survival behaviour.
Our anxiety about the pandemic, stems from more that isolation of course; realisation spreads that the ‘Grim Reaper’ is amongst us and many lives will be lost (Italy now over 8000 deaths). Managing our anxiety, was Andrew Marr’s topic on Sunday, when he interviewed Stephen Fry. Fry has bipolar disorder, is president of the charity Mind, merits our highest respect on matters of mental health – ‘un hombre serioso’. The nub of his advice was to slow down, try to redefine our sense of time, take longer with each mundane task, shut out surplus noise, particularly the more strident voices; I’m already finding these tips helpful.
Being 80, I don’t need a pandemic to remind me of the frailty of life – but I can assure you – it does.
The level of poverty and inequality in the UK is disgraceful; when Labour got ‘gubbed’ in December I felt as low about our politics as I can remember; now in March, I’m glad the Tories are in control – of the biggest ever state spend in our history. It seems fitting, that the party which deliberately disabled our NHS – should now do ‘whatever it takes’ to make amends. None of this makes the virus tolerable of course – but we can make the best of it. Two good hopeful articles in the FT: Simon Kuper wants us to seize this chance to create a greener world; Robert Shrimsley sees the emergence of a new politics: the state as a force for good.
It’s now clear to me, that Scotland’s missing tier of democracy, at community level accords with the SNP’s (secret) blueprint of governance. There have been a dozen voices for subsidiarity over the past decade – but none came close to shifting the SNP’s dogged centralism. The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins, has always understood the essence and value of localism – he ‘nails it’ in another piece.
This bulletin’s archive has 106 ‘search results’ for ‘universal basic income’ – going back to 2004. The state’s current concern, that all citizens have some money to spend, is the nearest the UK has been to democratic socialism – and Labour got thumped! It seems a new agenda is emerging.
Although I live alone, each fortnight my blue recycling bin is filled – I’m frankly ashamed of how much plastic waste I generate. This piece is about the remote Japanese village of Kamikatsu, where the 1500 residents recycle 81% of their waste – compared to a national average of 20% – ecowarriors.
A group of researchers at Oxford Uni are suggesting that Covid-19 may have been in the UK for months – that half the population could already have been infected. This would imply that fewer than one in a thousand of those infected become seriously ill. Personally, I’m inclined to believe this optimistic scenario – even that I myself am already infected; but then, there’s hardly any known disease that I haven’t imagined.
When asked for the first signs of civilisation in a culture, the anthropologist Margaret Mead cited a 15,000 year old fractured femur found in a dig; the bone had been broken and healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg you die. Unable to run from danger or hunt for food, no creature survives long enough for the bone to heal. A broken femur that has healed, is evidence that another person has stayed with the fallen and tended them through recovery. “Helping someone else through difficulty, is where civilisation starts” she said.
This week has seen the sector rally round to try and provide as much help and support as it can to frontline organisations. Whilst there is a danger that folk could be inundated with information, Senscot will try to keep our communications to those we feel will be most relevant/appropriate to SENs and SEN members. These can be found on our dedicated web-based Resources Page. Scottish Govt, working with some key national agencies, opened up the Third Sector Resilience Fund on Wednesday. Further funds are also due to become available shortly. The best and most up-to-date source for information on these funds and other relevant info’ is SCVO’s Covid-19 Third Sector Information Hub. The speed at which these respective funds have been put in place is a credit to those involved. Nonetheless, we are conscious that whilst many organisations will benefit hugely from being able to access these funds – many other organisations, in spite of these measures, will struggle to withstand the impact of the current emergency situation. Senscot staff remain available to those who may need support, information or signposting to particular services or funding streams.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
Just Enterprise has circulated this helpful infographic on support currently available to organisations. Check out their website for specific support available for those whose income has been affected by COVID19 – including two webinars next week – on Wed 1st April (11-11.30am); and Thurs 2nd April (3-3.30pm).
Frontline News: In spite of these difficult times, our Frontline News is going to focus on some positive stories from around the country. If you know of more, please send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org :
With visitors being dissuaded from visiting Scottish islands for now – you can still support these fragile economies by buying online from local business and social enterprises – www.isle20.com
Weekday Wow Factor is running online disco sessions via Skype for their members. They are on the look-out for any sponsorship to hire DJs – or if any DJs would like to help them out during their weekly sessions:
CFINE will be co-ordinating food deliveries across Aberdeen – in partnership with other local organisations – to those identified as most vulnerable and who do not have family or friends to drop off supplies.
Not surprisingly, a number of organisations are turning to crowd-funding to help sustain their services or to ensure that they are still able to help the most vulnerable members of their community. Here are some of the ones we have spotted over recent days. Of course, it’s not possible to support them all – but there may be one that you would like to support: Bike For Good: Well-Fed; Kaleyard Cook School; and the Senior Centre.
The P4P team is in full ‘working from home’ mode. Their latest blog – Consortia Models – is now available, setting out the various advantages and disadvantages to potential consortia models. With Scottish Govt issuing this procurement policy notice – indicating that procurement will largely continue as normal although there may be a potential necessity to make urgent purchases in these exceptional times using alternative methods of procurement. If you are thinking about tendering, you will need to get yourself set up on Public Contract Scotland (PCS). This P4P guide – ‘Create your Supplier Finder Profile’ – can help you do so.
This week’s bulletin profiles a creative and cultural hub serving the community of the Cowal peninsula in Argyll and Bute – which is responding to the current situation by adapting their services to support their local community at this time. Dunoon Burgh Hall (DBH) is an inspiring story of a small community coming together to preserve its rich cultural heritage – turning an historic B-listed building into a fully accessible venue for exhibitions, performances and gatherings = and also including a theatre, creative workshop space, a garden and a cafe. Conscious of its role in the community, DBH is responding to the current emergency by creating a Community Kitchen to prepare and deliver meals for vulnerable people in the area – as well as developing a regular Community Arts Video Stream to keep the community connected.