Senscot Bulletin: 01.03.13

Dear members and friends,

 The end quote in this bulletin last week was from Sogyal Rinpoche – a kind of international Buddhist guru; a reader from Switzerland linked me to a site called Dialogue Ireland – which specialises in exposing religious charlatans – and which alleges, convincingly, that Sogyal is a sexual predator.  I reflected how the free movement of information across the internet is changing the world for the better; light into dark corners.
 Then came the news of Cardinal O’Brian’s alleged sexual misconduct – a bombshell which will rock Catholic Scotland; some say overdue.  The exercise of power needs to be transparent and accountable to those it serves – otherwise it corrupts.  Sometimes the church’s leadership can appear remote – authoritarian; more concerned with the management of reputation than human compassion.  A woman interviewed by Newsnight in Glasgow said: "the chapel’s become an awful cold place".
 I’m a contemporary of Keith O’Brian – remember him as a young priest in Edinburgh – full of promise.  It’s always sad when an individual is shamed – but the present situation will hasten the demise of a style of leadership which our society has outgrown.  People increasingly expect to hold authority to account – and this can only be a good thing. 

This is the final week of our annual collection; final numbers and proper ‘thank yous’ next Friday.  See 2013 list so far, To donate, see

The Cabinet Office – along with a ‘symposium’ of academics – has produced a new report called ‘The Social Investment Market’ – which is essentially a ‘promo’ for social impact bonds. One wonders how much the Govt has wasted, trying to make social investment attractive to commercial lenders – but it’s not happening; they would need to make it as safe and juicy as PFIs were – but they won’t get away with that again. The money markets are looking for maximum return from minimum risk – that’s their job. SEs are looking for investors who are fairly relaxed about even getting their money back – never mind profit. Social Investment will continue to come from those seeking social return – as it should.  See,

I have been slow to accept the potential power of social media to ignite political movements – but I’m being converted.  This Guardian piece by Jamie Bartlett, argues powerfully that the internet is playing a major role in the emergence of Beppe Grillo as a political force in Italy.  His skill has been to channel Italian’s general frustrated apathy into a powerful political ‘movimento’; spurning mainstream media – to talk to them directly through Twitter and Facebook.  This is a game changer – with huge implications for moribund political parties.  See,

The Scottish Govt is consulting on its new Regeneration strategy – but as Angus Hardie points out in this week’s Briefings – there is a perfectly good model operating in the Highlands and Islands (HIE) – which has been shown to work.  Unlike Scottish Enterprise – which doesn’t get it – HIE has operated for years on the understanding that economic prosperity is inextricably linked to the health and vibrancy of its communities.  It uses an empowerment model – supporting the enterprise of local people to stimulate local economies.  See,

The inspiration behinds HIEs enlightened regeneration practice, was for many years, John Watt – who has now retired; only to re-emerge as chair of the New Scottish Land Fund – excellent appointment.  The Fund has recently announced its first 4 awards – including the community purchase of the iconic Covesea lighthouse at on the Moray coast.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Mental Health Advocacy Project, Ullapool Community Trust, Edinburgh University Students Association, Social Care Ideas Factory, Elgin Youth Development Group, Patients’ Advocacy Service
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 2 Mar; Leith Decides, 2 Mar; Fairtrade Bruncheon! featuring The Sound of Muesli, 9 Mar; Wiff Waff Wednesday, 13 Mar; Social Enterprise Exchange, 21 Mar;
TENDERS: Social Enterprise Hotel in Inverness and Counselling Service for Employees of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Senscot spent a couple of days at the Gathering this week – mainly through our involvement in the work of the Health SEN and Roundtable. We participated in the ‘World Café’ Discussions – what’s hot in health and social care & what it means for the third sector – with particular focus on ‘Joint Strategic Commissioning’. The event saw Youth Employment Minister, Angela Constance announce the extension of the Community Jobs Scotland Programme – providing an extra £5.5m to create a further 1000 jobs. See, . For further Networks News, see

This week, the Lloyds Banking Group launched year 2 of its £14m social entrepreneurs’ programme – which is expected to enable 1300 individuals to enlist with SSE. See,  As a result the Scottish School for Social Entrepreneurs is recruiting again for their Social Entrepreneurs’ Start-Up Programme (£4k grants). There is also the ‘Scale Up’ programme (£15k grants). Deadline for applications is Wed, 3rd April – with two ‘open days’ taking place in Edinburgh (27th Feb) and Glasgow (5th March). See details,

Five years ago, the Social Enterprise Academy set up an office in Inverness. Its intention was to engage with social entrepreneurs and community leaders in the Highlands and Islands on their own terms – tailoring programmes to suit local cultures. The Academy has now gone one step further and will be delivering its first Gaelic medium Leadership programme in South Uist – starts 25th/26th April. Meal do naidheachd! For more, see The Academy is also running an Intensive Social Enterprise Planning programme – providing peer support for start-ups or more established organisations. It’s a fully funded programme (i.e FREE) with 2 modules taking place on 6th/7th and 19th/20th March in Glasgow.
If you’re interested, see

Senscot likes to imagine that we are living in the early days of a better world – where social and environmental justice are the core values. Andrew Simms, in the Observer recently, wrote a piece about Goodland – where he drew together the best bits from around the world – to illustrate how good it can get. This one will cheer you up. See,

Over several generations – the woollen mills of the Borders produced knitwear of the finest international reputation; the closure of the Pringle factory 10 years ago, was part of the loss of manufacturing to China and Asia.  But a Berwick councillor, Brian Douglas, says that production, at the quality end of the market, is returning to the UK; he wants to regenerate the skilled Borders workforce – before it’s lost forever.  There’s the makings of a new social enterprise here.  See,

This week’s bulletin profiles one of Scotland’s most successful community arts organisations – WHALE Arts Agency, based in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh. WHALE was first established in 1992.  In 2000, they moved in to their own purpose built Arts Centre and now provide access to supported, professionally led arts activities and skills development. In recent years, WHALE has been developing new income streams through the hosting of cultural/creative micro-businesses and start-ups. They are keen to attract a mix of organisations with an interest in collaborative working. For more, see

Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968) was mostly a Trappist monk in Kentucky, USA – but his path in life was more complex than that. One thing is clear – he was a very gifted writer about the human spirit.

"Do not depend on the hope of results . . .you may have to face the fact that your work will appear worthless – achieve no result at all – or perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. . . .you gradually struggle less and less for an idea – and more and more for specific people. . . In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that will sustain you.". Thomas Merton (Hopelessness)

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210