Highlight of the week was meeting Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment with CRNS Chair Paul Johnston.The purpose of the meeting was to remind the Cabinet Secretary of the role of the third sector in contributing towards Scotland’s zero waste strategy, but also to talk about how the third sector as a whole might have a sustainable national role. It was a great opportunity for CRNS to talk about Revolve – the re-use and repair accreditation programme, and explain how it was a powerful driver towards making the re-use sector a viable alternative to mainstream retailers and suppliers.
We were also keen to suggest that income from the newly announced charge for plastic bags be re-invested back into the community sector – it would be a nice synergy, a virtual circle. The plastic bag charge is mentioned in the recently announced consultation – Safeguarding Scotland’s Resources – see page 35 of the consultation to be found at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/06/4215. CRNS will be lobbying hard to make sure that some of the income is re-invested in the community sector, but CRNS and its members need to respond to the whole consultation, and I will be communicating with members as to how we should do that.
The rest of the week was busy – out and about a lot, starting on Monday morning when CRNS Project Officer Matt Lewis and I attended a meeting of SCVO’s National Intermediaries Network Meeting. Denise Swanson, Head of Strategy, Engagement and Infrastructure, of the Scottish Government’s Third Sector Unit had been invited to talk about the most effective ways for the third sector to engage with government. She had proposed solutions that were more dynamic than the usual stakeholder committee– and I felt better-fitted small organisations which don’t have a policy officer. Not everyone agreed, and there was a lot of discussion about the definition of the third sector. Personally I think that discussion is a rabbit hole into which we could all disappear forever.
On Tuesday, Lesley McAleenan, CRNS Furniture Co-ordinator, and I met with Sarah Findlay and Claire McGinley of Starter Packs Glasgow. They do great work in challenging circumstances, providing furniture to low–income individuals and families, offering employment and training opportunities, while also managing a gallery displaying and selling local arts and crafts and a very attractive re-use shop. Sarah tells me that today’s young girls love the kind of bone china tea sets we associate with our grannies – so get them out from the back of the cupboard!
This week CRNS also held two Members’ Forums (or should that be Fora?). On Wednesday Matt Lewis chaired the meeting hosted by New Start Highland in Inverness and on Thursday Changeworks hosted a meeting in Edinburgh. A serendipity link with the theme of the SCVO meeting on Monday: Paul Anderson, Community Outreach Manager for the Scottish Parliament, gave a brief presentation to the Edinburgh Group on how community organisations, especially those which don’t have policy functions, can engage with the parliament. CRNS members interested in contacting Paul to find out more can e-mail him on mailto:Paul.Anderson@scottish.parliament.uk.