In June 2020, Scottish Govt published the Report of the Advisory Board on Economic Recovery –  ‘Towards a Robust, Resilient Wellbeing Economy for Scotland’. The Report, written in response to the Covid crisis, included specific reference to the central role our sector plays – citing its importance in contributing to Scotland’s social capital and its critical importance in maintaining a level of community resilience, particularly during these times of crisis. This week has seen publication of the Govt’s response – its Economic Recovery Implementation Plan – with a primary focus on supporting jobs, skills and training. Folk will have differing opinions, in view of the current circumstances, as to whether the measures go far enough. Many initiatives mentioned are already underway – initiated before, or in response to, Covid. Here’s the BBC’s take. The ‘response’ cites a raft of initiatives that will include or require significant third sector engagement. Some worth noting include: a new Third Sector Recovery Fund – to be announced later this month; a longer-term commitment to addressing the barriers facing the sector via a new Partnership Agreement between the Scottish Govt, Local Govt and the Third Sector; re-stating its commitment to longer term funding; an ambition to see a new partnership address challenges of the Third Sector; and confirmation of its intention to roll out the Community Wealth Building model across the country. 

Our new name, Social Enterprise Network Scotland, has now received formal consent from OSCR. One final hurdle remains – via a special resolution – which is to seek formal approval at a general meeting of members. This will be held virtually (by Zoom) tomorrow, Friday 7th August 2020 at 9.30am. 

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Not sure how many people are familiar with the People’s Energy Company – based in Dalkeith. Set up in 2017, on the back of a crowd-funding campaign that attracted over 2,000 ‘investors’, the People’s Energy Company operates as a social enterprise – that re-directs any profits back to members, customers, or to charities of their choosing. This week, the People’s Energy Company announced that it is to create 100 new jobs as it expands into the Scottish Borders. 

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Over the years, we have regularly featured the work of What Works Scotland  whose funding has now, sadly, come to an end. Some of the key contributors have now produced a final discussion paper – to support development of the ‘community economy’. Their report – Building the Community Economy in Scotland – identifies emerging opportunities for the community sector to engage with, and challenge, the state, including community empowerment, community ownership and land reform, social enterprise, public service reform and sustainable development and climate change  This blog accompanies the report – and highlights not only the complexity of the sector – but also its potential and critical role in bringing about change.  

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In June 2018, a deal was reached to conclude the buy-out of the Ulva Estate on behalf of the island’s community and the neighbouring Isle of Mull. Around £4m was contributed by the Scottish Land Fund towards the buyout – and, last year, Wendy Reid (formerly of DTA Scotland) took up post as Development Manager. This week, we hear of further progress from the Mull and Ulva communities with the announcement of further grant funding to build four affordable homes at Ulva Ferry on the Isle of Mull. 

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SEN News and Diary Dates:  

Rural SEN: Tuesday 18th August (2pm). Following on from their last meeting on 30th June 2020. You can see notes from June meeting here. For info, contact ahiggins@inspiralba.org.uk – or sign up here

All SEN Session: Monday 24th August (3-4pm) – Flexible Working & Mental Wellbeing. This session will include contributions from Geoff Leask (Young Enterprise Scotland); Lisa Gallagher (Flexibility Works) and Claire Carpenter (The Melting Pot). To sign up, email mary@senscot.net : 

Employability SEN: Thursday 13th August (10.30-11.30) – Covid-19 Labour Market Insights with Skills Development Scotland. To join in, contact jayne@senscot.net . See further details of all sessions

Angus SEN9th September – in partnership with Evaluation Support Scotland – will be hosting Learning to Tell Your Story – an introductory session on the basics of evaluation: 

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Frontline News: We are currently carrying out a Collective Purchasing Questionnaire (5 mins) to gauge interest in purchasing collectively on behalf of groups of social enterprises  – both to test how much value for money can be achieved as well as to support organisations to re-open. See link to complete questionnaire: 

Holding the Conversation is a new book (free to download) by Jackie Scutt (formerly Chief Exec at Social Enterprise Academy) – an easy-to-follow manual for experienced practitioners – and those new to the role: 

Foundation Scotland, this week, launched its new Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund – offering grants of  £1k-5k to charities, social enterprises and community organisations working with vulnerable groups: 

Angus SEN and P4P are running the Procurement Skills Accelerator (all free) during August. This series of sessions is designed for organisations with little or no experience of procurement or bidding for tenders: 

Sport SEN Newsletter is now available – including this letter sent on behalf of Sport SEN members to Joe FitzPatrick (Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing) and Aileen Campbell (Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Govt) – as well as information on SEN members’ activities and other sector news: 

Iain Cunningham (Engage Renfrewshire) discusses his work with local authority procurement teams and local contractors to ensure that social enterprises can make the most of any community benefit available: 

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SE around the globe: This week we look at a social enterprise in Ghana that is selling bikes made from bamboo. Ghana Bamboo Bikes was set up to as a way to create local jobs and, at the same time, promote low-carbon transport. More than half of its employees are women and, for every bike sold, one is given to a schoolchild to help that child save time getting to school. For every bamboo plant that is cut down to make a bike, Ghana Bamboo Bikes plants 10 more. Bamboo is stronger than steel in terms of tensile strength and is a cheaper, more sustainable material – plus the frame is completely recyclable. 

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SEN Spotlight: This week’s spotlight looks at the Tourism SEN. Originally set up in 2016 as a sub-group of the Cultural SEN, it emerged as a discrete SEN in 2017 and now has over 100 locally-based organisations engaged. Its activity has grown in recent years – presenting opportunities in areas such as accessible tourism, activity tourism, marketing, events, ancestral tourism, coupled with an ever-increasing demand from visitors to spend locally. Tourism-focused social enterprises can empower communities to grow their individual tourism markets by putting local people and community assets at the heart of a collaborative approach to growing visitor numbers – and can be used as an important tool for regeneration – connecting local people and local businesses in the development of their area. This importance has been reflected in a series of strategic development – both locally and nationally – including, principally, Scotland Outlook 2030 – a partnership involving Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Government, VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland. If you would like to sign up to the Tourism SEN – or to find out more, email sarah@senscot.net. See link to sign up for SEN newsletters,  

SE Network News Edition No.6