Senscot Buletin 01.05.09

Dear members and friends,
A good friend, whom I have not seen for many years, got in touch last week – visiting Edinburgh – we went for lunch.  Simon and I studied for the priesthood 1957/58 – and afterwards, when he married Jean, I went to Yorkshire to be his best man.  We were close for a while but our lives diverged – no contact since 1980 – on Thursday we had plenty to talk about – for 3 hours.
 Simon’s great passion was the theatre – wanted to direct plays in the West End – but he recounts how that didn’t happen – that after a while he chose ‘not to live in a garret’ – still enjoys a successful career teaching and writing drama.  We compare our memories of the seminary – some laughs, some cringes; and how we both subsequently drifted away from Catholicism – and the gap (or not) which this left.  We are both surprised by an impulse to reflect honestly on how our lives have turned out – a bit like confession.
 Hearing Simon’s story, it’s clear that he is still passionate about the theatre – but that the main theme of his life became his family – Jean, their sons, their grandchildren – (he gets the photies out).  ‘‘Can I ask, Laurence, if you have a partner?’’  When I say not he is genuinely sad.  ‘‘That’s my choice Simon – when I was younger I avoided solitude – but now it’s what I prefer’’.  He looks unconvinced.  Sometimes I’m not that convinced myself. Solitude can seem less than relationship – like the failure of hope.  I thanked my old buddy for taking the trouble to come and find me.

Most citizens are as yet unaware of the extent to which the governance of Scotland is shifting from national to local government – a quiet revolution which should gradually empower communities and citizens.  The Community Planning process, which many of us had already deemed a failure, will become increasingly pivotal – Single Outcome Agreements (SOA), will become the only game in town.  This new devolution of power specifically recognises the role of our Third Sector – and the new Interface strategy asks us to regroup locally – to engage with Community Planning.  The government’s Third Sector Division (TSD) has pointed out that last week’s Bulletin gave the false impression – that all government support for the Third Sector will in future be routed through the new Interfaces.  In reality, most government departments work directly with our sector – Health, Employability, Recycling etc – all this will continue. Investment in improving the sector’s capacity and capability will also remain a national government role.  Dominique Petitqueux offers clarification.

If your organisation wants to move on to its next stage of development – you should take a look at the Scottish Government’s Third Sector Enterprise Fund.  It has £12m to give out – in dollops of between £25k and £100k – so we can assume over 150 beneficiaries up to April 2011.  It is emphatically not for running costs or project funding.  It is intended to help your organisation ‘‘make a transformational step change towards building capacity, capability and/or financial sustainability’’.  This could be a bit of kit – or a key person – or a ‘breakthrough’ strategy you want to implement.  This attachment gives info and contacts for someone you can chat to.

“Social Enterprise doesn’t need to use different structures from the rest of the business world. We shouldn’t create legal structures that stop people getting rich for having a good idea.” This view from Rod Schwartz, CEO of social venture capitalists CATALYST, is representative of those who want to position our sector as continuous with private business. They miss the point – that our movement stands as a counter culture – in a world degraded by the love of money. Our work explores new ways for society to organise around what’s best for people and planet. Anyone who thinks social entrepreneurs need to be motivated by personal wealth, just doesn’t get it! See link,


Social enterprise is called different things in different countries but the term ‘Social Capital’ has been adopted internationally.  Governments are coming to realise that the economy isn’t everything – that they need to find ways to describe and measure the other factors which make life worth living.  The event of the year for Social Capital in Scotland is the Assist Annual Conference – which this year is on 4th June at New Lanark.  This is your opportunity to get up to date with a growing global consciousness.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 
JOBS: incl. posts with Stepping Stones for Families, Midlothian Sure Start, Churches Action For The Homeless, Shelter Scotland, Edinburgh Carers Council, Arrochar & Tarbet Community Development Trust
EVENTS: Fintry Renewable Energy Show, Fintry Development Trust, 9 May; Facilitation Training Day, Talk Action, 15 May; Social Capital and Community Resilience, Edinburgh, 4 June; Peas vs. Pills Health Workshop, Edinburgh, 6 June;

NETWORKS NEWS: Colin writes:  In March, Senscot held an event to discuss the prospect of the Social Enterprise Mark (SEM) being rolled out in Scotland. Two further meetings are now scheduled. The first will take place in Glasgow on 11th June at the Wise Group’s offices in Charlotte Street and the second in Aberdeen at Aberdeen Foyer’s Marywell Centre on 17th June. If interested, contact For more Networks News, see

Social Investment Scotland (SIS) is looking to improve its investment products for social enterprise. The intention is to provide packages that are more relevant, more sector specific and more affordable. A key part of this process will be a survey to find out about the needs of social enterprise for investment funding. Deadline is Tuesday 12th May. See details

Small grants for individual social entrepreneurs – pioneered by Scotland Unltd since 2002 – are now a valuable part of the Scottish Third Sector landscape.  Firstport – who manage the government’s new Social Entrepreneurs Fund – is now really motoring, with additional staff, a new website, and the announcement of the first tranche of awardees from the new fund.

This week’s bulletin profiles the winner of the Innovation Award at the CRNS Annual Recycling Conference in March – RePaint Scotland. Based in Govan and part of the` Community RePaint` national network, they recycled over 450,000 litres of paint last year – either to local communities or through their Factory Shop in Govan. For more, see

In Saturday’s Herald, Cate Devine wrote a good piece about Cathy McCormack – Glasgow’s intrepid warrior against poverty.  Cathy’s written a book called The Little Yellow Butterfly and her own inspiring story is part of the history of community action in Scotland.

Each of us is unique – at the same time, not more than a common man or woman.  No-one speaks of our ordinary specialness better than Philip Larkin.

‘‘I like to read about people who have done nothing spectacular, aren’t beautiful or lucky; who try to behave well in a limited field of activity and who see in the little autumnal moments of vision that the so called ‘big experiences of life’ are going to miss them.  I like to read about such things presented not with self-pity or despair or romanticism but with realistic firmness or even humour’’.

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,

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