30th June 20, Rural SEN Notes

Rural SEN Cover Photo

30/6/20 notes – Rural social enterprises and support agencies connected virtually at the Rural SEN meeting at the end of June. People joined the meeting from as far west as Uist, and as far east as Brechin, to share ideas, peer learning and highlight areas for action and collaboration. As always, a number of learning resources, sector research, and relevant reports were shared during the meeting. These are linked in the notes, which can be downloaded here: Rural SEN 30th June Notes.


Key themes to emerge from the discussion included:

  • Inspiralba are conducting a survey of social enterprises to determine the previous activity and willingness to support access and progression routes in the future, given the particular challenges in relation to unemployment and youth unemployment that are being projected as a result of Covid-19.
  • A growing awareness of potential conflict in rural communities around tourism and reopening. Many small businesses and social enterprises are heavily dependent on summer tourism for income, while other residents are opposed to reopening their isolated communities, which have limited infrastructure. This debate is alive across rural and island communities.
  • The move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 has generated a significant amount of optimism as businesses are now able to plan and retrain staff for reopening. This is particularly good news for social enterprises whose staff and volunteers have been at increased risk of social isolation during the lockdown period.
  • Sessions run by Senscot to provide guidance around themes identified during RESET week have been very useful and popular. These focused on reopening and signposted to resources from Revolve for reopening retail premises, especially charity shops. Upcoming information sessions will be run with partners and updated on the Senscot website.
  • Potential for a Virtual Learning Exchange program, in partnership with Scottish Community Alliance, which would facilitate peer learning via digital platforms. Key themes for learning were identified as: Retail/Reopening, Tourism/Hospitality/ Democratic Voice.
  • Inspiralba is working with Dr Gillian Murray, who curates the Social Enterprise Archives in the Yunus Centre in Glasgow Caledonian University to create a dedicated archiving position for a young person to gather archival evidence for rural social enterprises.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 18th August 2020. Email ahiggins@inspiralba.org.uk to sign up.