The SENs: Friday 8th May 2015

The sad news this week that Claverhouse in Dundee is to close is another reminder of the difficult operating environment for so many social enterprises and charities at present. It also highlights the particular pressures on organisations currently operating in the employability field – trying to deliver contracts that, financially, offer low unit costs as well as being heavily output-based. As more and more national contracts have been scooped up by the ‘big boys’ –  Sercos, Capitas etc. – there is hardly a locally-based training/employability provider in the country that has not been experiencing considerable difficulty in maintaining a quality level of provision and remaining financially viable. The sad irony for Claverhouse – that has been delivering their services since 1981 – is that the next twelve months could well see these programmes being devolved to Holyrood – where we would expect a very different approach to be taken.
 Yesterday, Senscot attended aCommunity Food Practices’ Impact on Health Inequalities’ Event at the University of Strathclyde. As part of the University’s Engage Week, the event was aimed at bringing together key stakeholder groups such as community-based social enterprises working to improve diet and health outcomes within disadvantaged communities. This enabled them to consider the barriers to a healthy diet, and how social enterprise approaches can help reduce these barriers. Expected outcomes will be: shared learning; a food social enterprise and health research agenda; and the development of sector-informed research projects.

Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network
(ESEN) is looking into the feasibility of allowing social enterprises outside of Edinburgh to access its Buy the Good Stuff brand.  Buy the Good Stuff was created to promote social enterprise products and services to consumers. There has been interest in the brand from across Scotland and ESEN is now trying to establish what demand there is to roll it out beyond Edinburgh. If you are interested in using the brand, or you have an opinion about how it should be rolled out, please take five minutes to fill in the survey, which will close on Friday 29th May. 

 Good news for social enterprises in West Lothian with 15 enterprising Third Sector organisations in set to receive specialist support and advice that will boost local economies, and help communities to thrive through enterprise. West Lothian Council, together with the West Lothian Social Enterprise Network have jointly commissioned Community Enterprise, an agency that specialises in building the capacity of the third sector, to provide hands-on practical and specialist business support that will help to develop existing social enterprises across the region and get new ones off the ground.  See more.

 With Deborah Grant leaving to join the Learning Enrichment Foundation in Toronto, GSEN is now actively seeking to recruit a new Chairperson. GSEN is looking for a social enterprise leader (from the membership) who would like to use their skills, and interest in furthering GSEN – with a view to joining them from August onwards.  Betty Elliott (The Spark) will take up the Chair position in the interim period. You can see the job description here (PDF) – and if you’re interested in the role, please contact Elizabeth.
Senscot met with the new Fife Social Enterprise Advisor, Pedro Santos. Pedro – who is based at BRAG – will be supporting the development of the Fife SEN as well as supporting social enterprises across Fife. If you are interested in linking up with Fife SEN, please contact Sarah.
The Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015 is still ongoing – with almost 800 SEs having already participated in the online survey (see link above). This census is seeking to capture the size, scale and reach of SE in Scotland – for the first time. Many SEN members have already responded – and, again, we would encourage SENs and SEN co-ordinators to likewise encourage their own members to respond. We also believe that that all Third Sector Interfaces have also been approached – which is good to hear. The survey takes around 15/20 mins to complete. Your participation is very much appreciated. See more background. ESEN published its most recent newsletter this week, see moreNotices TENDERS: Funded Early Learning and Childcare Places for Children Aged 3 and 4 Within Fife, Provision of Asset Based Community & Stakeholders Engagement Services – NHS Grampian, Catering Services – Scottish Qualifications Authority and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on TwitterVACANCY: Senscot and SFS are recruiting a ‘Partnership and Procurement Officer’. The post will offer practical support to social enterprises looking to work in partnership and/or in identifying and responding effectively to emerging tender opportunities being presented through current public service reform and other business opportunities. CHAIR: Community Enterprise is looking to recruit a new outstanding Chair of the Board.
GRANTS: The BBC Children in Need Small Grants programme is open to charities and not-for-profit organisations applying for any amount up to and including £10,000 for one year only.
 COMPETITION: This Carnegie UK Trust launched a nationwide competition to reward organisations up and down the country that are doing the most to help reshape public services by empowering citizens and communities. EVENT: Fun times for all the family at the Skelf bikepark – explore trails, warm your legs up with Hubstep pedal-powered sound system, burn it on the Braidwood Hill Chaser, max your time out on Covert Dirt’s portable pump track or simply chill round the BBQ courtesy of BBG.

VOTE: Please take a minute to vote for WHALE to win up to £25,000.  If successful it will be able to transform the outdoor space at the WHALE Arts Centre in partnership with Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust.
 REPORT: VHS at a Parliamentary event lauched a report titled ‘Living in the Gap?’ that gives a voluntary health sector perspective on health inequalities in Scotland,

Dates for the Diary 

Falkirk SEN, 13th May
Sport SEN West, 20th May
Edinburgh SEN, 27th May
West Lothian SEN, 28th May
Dundee SEN AGM, 28th May
Glasgow SEN, 3rd June
Falkirk SEN, 8th June
Falkirk SEN, 7th July
Glasgow SEN, 5th August

Best wishes, Kim