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11th September 2019

In the most recent briefing…

  • On the ground

    Community control of schools

    The demarcation lines between what the public sector does and the community are always shifting. Often it just takes a few people with enough vision and energy to make the change. 50 years ago, a group of tenants in Glasgow thought they could do a better job than the council in running their housing – and they did. And from that grew the community controlled housing movement. A few years ago, some parents thought they could provide a better school building for their children than the Council was proposing – and they did. Wonder if this will catch on too?

  • On the ground

    Island co-ops stay strong

    In this post digital age it’s difficult to lose any data thanks to the powerful algorithms that sit behind today’s search engines. But paper records are harder to track down and the history of social enterprise in Scotland becomes much more anecdotal the further back in time you travel. Some skilled work by the archivists at GCU is gradually piecing together the story of who did what, when, and where in order to lay the foundations for today’s social enterprises. Community cooperatives on Scotland’s islands were the early pioneers. In some ways, nothing much has changed.

  • On the ground

    Will you challenge poverty?

    The poverty that we see on our streets isn’t easy to reconcile with the knowledge that we are also one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Given the fact that every day we see people begging on the streets, queuing at foodbanks and experiencing homelessness, is there a risk we become inured to the extent of poverty? Each year, in an effort to shine a light on what’s happening on our streets, the Poverty Alliance coordinate a programme of activities during a week in October to Challenge Poverty.  Could your community help to challenge poverty?

  • On the ground

    Complexity of community cafes.

    Question: when is a café not a café? Answer: when it’s a community café. The basics of coffee, tea and cakes for sale may be as standard in cafes of all shapes and sizes but community cafes go much further. A while back, Senscot commissioned some research into what it takes to run a successful community café (we carried their online survey here) and the response was such that they’ve now produced a short briefing paper identifying a whole range of factors for any group to consider if they are thinking of setting one up.

  • Policy talk

    Experiment and celebrate failure

    If we were to ask what it currently feels like to be working in local or national government, it’s a fair bet that the responses would include feeling highly pressured, fearing failure, stressed, over-worked, lacking resources, under-staffed and so on. Hardly the environment to foster a culture where experimentation is encouraged and failure is embraced because that is how we learn. And yet we still expect these same institutions to transform themselves. We could do worse than follow the lead of Finland’s Prime Minister who has established the Experimental Finland Team at the centre of his office.

  • Policy talk

    Shift the point of decision

    I’ve long suspected that those folk who work in the public sector with responsibility for engaging with the general public, live with a recurring dream (nightmare) of losing control of the process with decisions never getting made. Good article from Estonian democracy activist, Teele Pekh describing a continuum on which decisions are eventually always made but just at a different point in the process.  She argues we are moving from “ Decide – Announce – Defend (often followed by Abandon)” at one end of the spectrum towards this  Engage – Deliberate – Decide

  • Policy talk

    A call to SNIB

    The planned launch early next year of Scottish National Investment Bank is being viewed with interest by many in the sector. Working to support the Scottish Government’s strategic priorities and particularly supporting the country’s transition to a low carbon economy and the regeneration of our disadvantaged communities, it will be interesting to see how they respond to a paper written by Scottish Communities Finance Ltd and others which points to the ongoing market failure in the supply and demand of social finance.

  • Policy talk

    Change in community ownership?

    Every two years, Scottish Government invests in a thorough assessment of the health of the social enterprise sector. The SE Census involves much number crunching and trawling through of financial reports in order to make some sense of what’s actually happening out there on the ground. From reading the headline figures, the big message seems to be that there really isn’t one – no great changes to report. However one figure does stand out – less than a quarter of the sector considers itself community owned and led. If that’s accurate, it feels like a bit of a shift is happening.

  • On the ground

    Keeping wealth local

    There’s something approaching a consensus that the days of completely free market, global capitalism are numbered. What most people tend to duck however is the question of what comes next.  For some time now, CLES a think -tank based in Manchester have been advocating a set of ideas that they believe will form at least part of the answer – community wealth building. CLES chief exec, Neil McInroy will be presenting his latest ideas at our shared conference in November along with the one local authority in Scotland to have embraced community wealth building as a central strategy.