Senscot Bulletin: 01.04.10

Dear members and friends,

I’ve known Jim for thirty years – originally through the golf – but our friendship became more.  Jim was that boy at your school who drove everyone daft with his practical jokes and plastic tarantulas.  But his irrepressible love of fun and infectious booming laugh mostly makes up for the annoyance.  Over the years, we’ve played some memorable tricks on each other – but he’s better at it than me – it’s his calling.
 A fortnight ago, Jim and I were at a dinner in honour of a mutual friend – ruined for me by being sat next to a stockbroker whom I’ll call Bernie the bore.  Driving Jim home, I allow myself a mini rant about this ‘most self satisfied, boring bastard I’ve ever met’.  On Tuesday this week, Jim phones me in bed – needs to speak to me urgently – sounds distressed – insists I meet him for breakfast in the Roxburgh.  I hate rush hour traffic, but get there on time.  Tony, the head waiter, knows us – tells me Jim is held up but the ‘other gentleman’ is waiting.  He takes me to a window table where Bernie the bore is beaming up at me – here to meet Jim.  I sit opposite him trying to control my emotions – a sinking feeling – I’ve been bumped.  Bernie is already chuntering away, oblivious – over his shoulder Jim appears at the window – making faces – laughing and laughing.

In Scotland, most social enterprises are also charities but not so in England – where there is more resistance to the regulation of social enterprise.  The circulation last week of our 5 criteria got a spirited reaction – thoughtful piece attached by David Floyd.  If fiscal benefits, preferential investment etc are to be made available to certain social businesses, the taxpayer is entitled to know that operators are not lining their pockets; some sort of regulation was inevitable (and welcome).  But if the new Identifier is successful, the meaning of the term ‘social enterprise’ will change – from an inclusive generic activity – to specific, regulated model of social business.  This means that a new generic term will emerge to capture the creative stew of social/private hybrids which will increasingly emerge – reflecting all the varied motivations for human enterprise.  For me, Muhammad Yunus sees this clearest – calls it simply social business – where a thousand adaptations of capitalism will be explored – attracting major global investment – moving towards its own social stock market.

My principle disgust with the UK’s political leadership is that, in spite of the ignominy of our banking system, no alternative narrative has emerged on how we could do things differently.  Our politicians seem to be in the thrall of very rich people – everyone still mesmerised by the spoils of the casino.  In this – as with the others crises of our times – civil society is much more radical than our elected leaders.  In spite of the bafflement of politicians and big business, Geoff Mulgan, in this recent blog, traces an optimistic scenario – where the world of business and the economy, and the world of social action are converging.

I like this piece by Rodney Schwartz in Third Sector which argues that it’s not structures and institutions which will get the social investment sector moving – but deals and transactions.  He cites 4 current deals which he believes will be influential.

One of Scotland’s social enterprise Networks specifically links and supports our former coalfields – and I found myself last Friday at their conference in Blantyre Miners Welfare.  The Welfares were truly ‘Anchor organisations’ – the very life blood of communities – the embodiment of caring and sharing and solidarity.  Thatcher unleashed a systematic attack on these communities and their mechanisms of mutuality.  Now the Tories tell us they want to bring all that back.

Gordon Brown is a keen Raith Rovers fan, who contributed to their fan buyout; he is understood to have played a key role in formulating Govt proposals designed to enable fans to own a share of the club they support.  Different endeavours call for different forms of ownership and governance.  For me it’s a ‘no brainier’ that supporters should own football clubs. When Ross County beat Hibs up in Dingwall, half the town’s population was at the game. Sports Clubs are part of people’s identities, not commodities for trade.

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: Church of Scotland, Midlothian Voluntary Action, Hamilton & Clydesdale and East Kilbride Women’s Aids, Community Woodlands Association, Children in Scotland, LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing
EVENTS: Making Meetings More Effective, 22 Apr; Fit for Purpose, 23 Apr; Some Like it Too Hot – How Leith’s houses are leaking heat, 24 Apr; Basics of Being an Employer, 29 Apr; Power-UP (Planning, the law and your rights), 9 May; Maximising Participation, 13 May; Exploring Sustainable Living, 28 May

NETWORKS NEWS: Colin writes: I attended the Scottish Parliament’s Responsible Purchasing Policy event this week. The current Policy has been a real success both in terms of providing a number of opportunities for social enterprises to tender for contracts within the Parliament. was given a good plug – however Community Benefit Clauses (CBC) did not meet with the same level of enthusiasm, or understanding. One of the challenges for will be to promote a better understanding of CBC and the potential they have to genuinely establish a level playing field for social enterprise. For more Networks News, see

Places are filling up fast for this year’s ‘Fit for Purpose’ Conference. We’re particularly delighted to have as keynote speakers Mary Allison (Director of Programme Design and Delivery at NHS Health Scotland) and Dr Lynne Friedli (one of the UK`s leading mental health specialists and advocate of social prescribing). Here’s some back ground on Mary and Lynne  As you know, the event will take place on Friday 23rd April at the Perth Concert Hall. To book your place, see

The community of Machrahanish is exploring ambitious plans to purchase the local airbase. They have registered their right to buy and now have to prepare a bid for submission in August of this year. If successful, they would be inheriting a church, medical centre, accommodation for 400 people, sports and recreational facilities, around 200 other buildings – plus a 10,000 foot runway, an aircraft hanger and 1000 acres of land. A community ballot is scheduled over the next month or so. We pass on our best wishes. See more,

Illegal money lending is an issue facing many communities throughout Scotland. An important Conference on this issue is taking place in Clydebank on 27th April. The Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit is hosting the ‘Break the Cycle’ event which will address how to assist victims of illegal lending. See more

As you know, every now and then, the bulletin will revisit an organisation with an update on their progress. This week it’s the turn of the Broomhouse Centre in the west of Edinburgh. We first profiled them late in 2002 but hear this week of their latest venture – Crescent Kitchen. This new social enterprise provides a cafe service, training, corporate team building days and special events. It also provides an outside catering service and must be one of the few (if any?) social enterprises in the city providing such a service.
For more, see

Uncle Bill by Wendy Cope. 

“Mummy’s working-class relations didn’t get invited to dinner or tea but Uncle Bill dropped in from time to time, to see Nanna because she was his sister.  ‘Hello Uncle Bill’, we’d say as he passed through the hall on his way to the kitchen or Nanna’s room.  He didn’t stay long.  When he left we said goodbye.  And that was all we ever saw of Uncle Bill.  Except that sometimes we’d be on a bus – you got on at the back and didn’t see the driver – and even though we’d pinged to get off, it went past our stop until it reached our house.  We jumped off, my sister and I, and ran along to the driver’s cab.  ‘Uncle Bill! Uncle Bill!’  He waved back and drove away.”

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

Best wishes,

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