Within our social enterprise community in Scotland, ‘growth’ has always been a matter of some debate. The sector has regularly been encouraged to grow – create more jobs; become more sustainable; demonstrate greater social impact etc. This approach is often at odds with a sector, made up, overwhelmingly, of small, locally-based organisations, whose view of ‘growth’ is often more to do with being able to provide better and more effective services within their own local community – either of place or of interest. Over the years, the language around ‘growth’ has also begun to be modified – couched in softer terms. First, ‘sustainable growth’; then ‘inclusive growth’; and now, most recently, ‘green growth’ and/or ‘growth for wellbeing’. The ‘wellbeing’ of society has rightly moved up the political agenda but, in truth, it has been at the heart of social enterprise and wider third sector activity for decades. However, people’s understanding of what ‘wellbeing’ means and how it can be achieved – clearly differ. This article by Rabia Abrar of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance – The Myth of Green Growth – addresses claims of the Scottish Govt’s Advisory Board for Economic Recovery that ‘growth is the best way to build a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland’. The article is not against growth per se – but argues that it should only be pursued in those areas of the economy that genuinely contribute to collective wellbeing and that, conversely, we should be shrinking those areas that damage it – an approach in keeping with the core ethos of social enterprise in Scotland.

Last Friday, at a general meeting of Social Enterprise Network Scotland, members formally approved the change of name. More information to follow in coming weeks. For now, see overview and organogram.

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In early June, OSCR published the results of their survey of almost 5,000 charities across Scotland –  to try and assess the actual impact of Covid 19 on our sector. Whilst the true extent of the impact may not be seen for a few months yet, the stark picture painted surprised few people. This week, OSCR has provided further reflections – having studied their data in further detail. Whilst acknowledging there are many observations that can be made, they have highlighted the importance of not overlooking smaller organisations – who have played ‘a key role in leading community resilience which will be of even greater importance in the months ahead’. They have also picked out the cultural and sport/recreation sectors as in need of particular support in light of their contribution to our overall wellbeing. This chimes with this recent letter sent to Ministers on behalf of Sport SEN members – and, this week, a story in TFN on the bleak future of Scotland’s ALEOs.

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Last week’s publication of Scottish Govt’s Economic Recovery Implementation Plan – with its focus on supporting jobs, training and skills – was accompanied by another response from Govt – this time, to recommendations made by the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board. It listed a range of initiatives including £50m to support youth employment; embedding Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships as part of wider education provision; a Transition Training Fund to provide opportunities for people facing redundancy and unemployment, with a view to upskilling and transitioning into employment. We are inviting feedback from SEN members and other social enterprises on their thoughts on these initiatives; how they will support and/or impact on what you deliver; and what you consider is needed for employability/employment support and your own work going forward. No survey this time – please, just email Jayne with your thoughts/ideas.

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With social and community enterprises very much to the fore in leading local communities’ response to the Covid 19 crisis, Dundee SEN, this week, produced its own report on some of the work being carried out by members. Coming Together In A Crisis  showcases some examples of the collaborative working approach being taken. Dundee has also seen the publication of its new Social Enterprise Strategy (2019-24) for the city – again a collaboration between Dundee SEN (see SEN Spotlight below) and the Dundee Partnership – which includes Dundee City Council and others.

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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 :

Angus SEN: 9th September – in partnership with Evaluation Support Scotland – will be hosting Learning to Tell Your Story – an introductory session on the basics of evaluation:

Employability SEN: Wednesday, September 23rd (2-3pm)Drew Reid from Skills Development Scotland will be talking about how their Skills for Growth programme could benefit members. To book, email Jayne:

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SE around the globe: This week’s global focus comes courtesy of Pioneers’ Post – and looks at an all-female social enterprise in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) that has been re-inventing its work to support the community and strengthen women-led businesses. The work of Josefinas Colab , set up 12 months ago, was initially to create a safe space that would highlight women’s power, black people’s ancestral heritage and diversity. More recently, it has adapted its work to help mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in low-income communities and to support female entrepreneurs who have lost their source of income. See full article.

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Frontline News: CEIS’ annual SE Policy and Practice Conference is on 2nd Sept. This year’s event is virtual and will focus on recovery and rebuilding a better future. To book your place, see Registration Form:

SURF’s 2020 Annual Conferencewill take place via a series of three weekly sessions (90 mins each) – Thurs, Aug 27th; Thurs, Sept 3rd; and Thurs, Sept 10th. See booking form for all three virtual sessions:

CRNS’ August Newsletter is now available – including this article on the importance of supporting the sector at this time. Also worth a look is this helpful map to you locate CRNS members in your area:

P4P, with Angus SEN, will be running a series of interactive and informative sessions for Angus SEN members as an introduction to public sector procurement. The Procurement Skills Accelerator is a focused programme of 3 separate training sessions delivered over a 3-week period. First session on Tues 18th Aug:

Community Shares Scotland has launched its new website – with the aim of making it more accessible and user friendly. The interactive ‘community shares journey’ (on homepage) offers a helpful step-by-step guide:

New Research from Scottish Rural College suggests successful international models for re-populating islands and other remote communities could be replicated in Scotland – with adequate financial backing:

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SEN Spotlight: This week’s spotlight falls on Dundee SEN (DSEN) – first established in2007 – to help support and develop the social enterprise community in the city. DSEN offers direct, practical support and advice to existing and aspiring social enterprises in the city – including help to access funding and loans, procurement and tendering opportunities, business support, information and training. Currently, DSEN has over 50 members, employing over 730 people and a joint turnover in excess of £24m. They have been a partner in the local Third Sector Interface (TSI) for a number of years and have been active in working with the local authority on a number of initiatives such as the Tay City Deal; Tay City SE Awards; and , most recently and importantly, the Dundee Social Enterprise Strategy (2019-24). Always keen to encourage joint-working between members, DSEN, this week, published this report on some of the excellent work being carried out by members locally in response to the Covid 19 crisis in Dundee.

SE Network News Edition No.7