The sight of Ukrainian citizens organising themselves into a resistance movement under the leadership of a President previously disparaged as lacking the credentials for high office, has challenged many preconceptions about this crisis. Outstanding leadership, it seems, sometimes emerges only in extremis. At times of real crisis, we expect our leaders to step up but, as we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, not all of them do. Last week, lost amidst the headlines of conflict, the latest UN report on climate change was published. It’s predictably grim reading – ‘a damning indictment of failed global leadership’ A few days earlier, Chris Stark, the UK’s top climate adviser, was commenting on a longstanding disconnect between Scotland’s impressive climate ambitions and the reality of what’s happening on the ground. Climate action, he said, had to ramp up in several directions and on a scale not seen before. No surprise then that all eyes were on last week’s launch of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation. Was this to be the moment when Scotland chooses a radically different path, towards the much vaunted wellbeing economy in which we begin to live within our natural limits? Early reaction suggests not but, as ever, it’ll come down to leadership.
In the most recent briefing…
Some important birthday celebrations this year in the community buyout world. In June, the community on Eigg will mark their 25th year of freedom and next week the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust turns twenty – quite an achievement if you were to believe the doom mongers a few years back who gleefully (and wrongly) predicted Gigha would be the first community buyout to go bust. Aside from financial resilience, population turnaround is a feature of many buyouts – Eigg up 74%, and Gigha up 82%. David Ross makes the case for much more public ownership of land.
It is widely acknowledged that the demands on the statutory mental health services have long outstripped what was available – and that was before the pandemic. Entirely new and different models of service are required as well as the means of accessing them. The case for community led health providers has been made many times before and in particular how this could ease the pressure further downstream. The highly innovative Community Wellbeing Exchange that has been pioneered by Senscot in recent years is just one example of a low cost/high value mental health initiative that merits closer inspection.
With the appearance of snowdrops, crocuses and even the odd daffodil suggesting that spring is just around the corner, gardeners and growers across the land are beginning to think about the season that lies ahead. But in ten very different communities around Scotland, unexpected and unusual gardens are going to appear as part of Unboxed – a UK wide celebration of creativity. A food growing initiative which aims to reimagine the harvest for the 21st century. Dandelion invites us to rediscover connections to the food we eat and to share what we plant, grow and cook with those around us.
Perhaps because the third sector is such a multi-faceted amalgam of activity, it’s almost impossible to describe in any way that does justice to its diversity. It’s why so many collective voices have emerged over the years to represent different parts of the whole. One of those parts is social enterprise – the part that Senscot has promoted, often against the grain of public policy, for over twenty years. Earlier this week, they were informed by the Scottish Government that this role was to cease. I wrote previously that the whole procurement process felt wrong. It still feels wrong.
A trend in government that’s become increasingly commonplace is the assumption that incentives to attract private investment must be baked into the design of any new areas of policy development. For instance, there’s already significant unease at the role of the Big Four accountancy firms in the early scoping of the National Care Service. A very different area of policy – creating a market for carbon offsetting – has raised similar but different concerns about the (presumably) unintended consequence of the tax breaks and subsidies exacerbating inequalities in rural areas. Community Woodland Association’s Jon Hollingdale has been investigating.
There are some aspects of public policy, irrespective of their relative importance, that just sound dry and inaccessible to the general public. For instance, regular readers will be familiar with my constant references to the Local Governance Review and may already be stifling that yawn. Another that falls into this unfortunate category is the National Planning Framework 4. Nonetheless NPF4 is hugely important and will shape much of what happens in Scotland over the next 10 years. Planning Democracy have done a power of work to encourage communities to respond to the consultation by 31st March, culminating in this excellent guide.
Since 2011, KoSDT has been helping the local communities, organisations and businesses of Ardgay and Creich to access opportunities, whilst bringing in millions of pounds in investment. The trust has run many ambitious projects that provide valuable employment and training opportunities while generating long-term sustainable benefits. Key examples include rebuilding the burned-down Falls of Shin tourist attraction, and buying out the Bonar Bridge Post Office when it faced closure. KoSDT also created “The Barn” in Ardgay, which acts as the trust’s central hub, as well as providing business units for other local initiatives. The trust’s projects have had such a…Find out more