Senscot Bulletin: 01.04.11

Dear members and friends,

The single thing that would improve the quality of my life is patience.  My ‘superpower’ of choice would be the ability to move, at will, into Buddhist calm – beyond anger and fear.  I wish!
 Part of the human brain was bequeathed to us by the reptiles of 500 million years ago – creatures with a neurological system totally adapted for survival.  Neuroscientists refer to it as the ‘Four Fs’: feeding, fighting, fleeing, and f…; let’s call the 4th reproduction.  Homo-sapiens has inherited these same primitive instincts (located in the hypothalamus) – the emotions engendered by this `old brain` are strong, automatic and ‘all about me’.  Over millions of years, we have also evolved a ‘new brain’ – (located in the neocortex) – home of the reasoning powers – that enable us to reflect on the world and ourselves – to reach for art, science – `meaning`.  The great sages came to understand that it is possible to put some distance between our thinking self and the potentially destructive instincts like anger – but it’s not easy, is it?
 During the 1970s, I was a fan of the TV series Kung Fu.  Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) is raised as a Shaolin monk – becomes a master in both eastern meditation and martial arts.  More than his skills in combat – I admired Caine’s serenity and patience – his ability to sit still – his humble soft spoken manner; `old brain` and `new brain` in harmony. Of course it was only a story – and he often kicked people. 

Excellent article (below) in this weeks Observer about the pioneering economist Fritz Schumacher – whose 1973 book ‘Small is Beautiful’ made such an impression on my generation of social activists.  He once said that if he ever voted Tory – his arm would shrivel – but he might not be saying that today.  Some of the policies of the current UK Govt. are closer to Schumacher’s political philosophy than those of what calls itself the Labour Party; here’s an interesting comment on the Coalition’s Localism agenda. . I’m puzzled by how the Tories will reconcile some of this big society stuff with the demands of global capitalism.  We need to be vigilant about the encroachment of the private sector values into our world.

Following the recent bonfire of the intermediaries in England – the minister responsible, Nick Hurd, has said that our sector needs to establish closer links with business.  Reading a blog (below) I have the first glimmer of understanding where the convoluted world of `payment by results` and `social impact bonds` may be leading.  A comparison is made to the Private Finance Initiative (remember PFI?) which provided a bonanza for all manner of specialist professional consultants.  I hope that the city financial services spivs are not maneuvering to control the social investment sector.

Such is the state of the print media, that much of Scottish journalism and political commentary is depleted – discouraged; not so the splendid invective of Gerry Hassan’s blogs.  Sometimes I wish his pieces were shorter – or less angry – but in general I find his stuff invigorating.  He has impressive background and historical knowledge – over a broad canvas – his analysis is bold and incisive.  I particularly enjoy his rants against the vested interest of institutional Scotland. Go on yersel`, Gerry!

English charity lawyer, Stephen Lloyd, is leading a drive to create a new legal form that advances social purpose but also allows financial return to investors.  This is a recurring theme in ‘the london village’ – the impulse to ‘accelerate’ the spread of social business by making it attractive to private investors.  Such aspirations completely miss the point – that what we do is ‘a different way’ of organising society; expressly not for personal gain. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Spruce Carpets, Jewish Care Scotland, Berwick Community Trust, The Village Storytelling Centre, Tailor Ed Foundation, Rosemount Lifelong Learning, LoganPM, The Big Issue in Scotland Magazine
EVENTS: What is Social Enterprise?, 5 Apr; Website Health Check, 6 Apr; What are my outcomes?, 7 Apr; Social Media for the Third Sector, 7 Apr; Collecting Information to report on outcomes, 28 Apr
TENDERS: Supply of Electrical Equipment and Consumables; UK-Kilmarnock: Provision of Special Needs School Transport Service 1 Year Contracts 2011; Rural Grass Cutting & Weed Control Service

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes:  Exciting visit to London this week with a delegation of Youth SEN members. Our purpose was two fold: to link up with the Youth Commission for Social Enterprise, based in Bethnal Green; and also to attend Voice 11 at the O2 Arena. Part 1 was an outstanding success. Part 2 is a hard call. In many respects, the size and scale of the event reflects how far social enterprise has come in recent years. On the other hand, there’s a real sense that the event has become too corporate – swarming with the private sector and Intermediaries; workshops run by `big names`  rather than frontline social enterprises (as it used to be) – plus the venue was absolutely freezing! Let’s hope our S2S event doesn’t veer down the same path. For more Networks News, see

Senscot Legal website is now live – . Over the coming weeks, we will be updating the site with useful resources, links and updates. Senscot Legal has been set up to provide affordable legal advice and support to social enterprises and wider third sector organisations If you require any assistance or advice, contact Alan or Karina at

In communities across Scotland, amateur sporting activity is totally dependent on an estimated 150,000 volunteers – running everything from children’s sports and fun runs, to the local amateur football club.  Through Networks 1st, Senscot is directly involved helping this sector understand how social enterprise could enhance independence.  Even professional football clubs are realising, that to survive they need to become embedded in the communities they serve.  News this week that ‘the Buddies’ (St Mirren) are exploring becoming a CIC. See,

Scottish success at the Social Enterprise of the Year Awards in London on Wednesday evening. `Young People`s SE of the Year` went to Stonelaw High Fairtraders (Rutherglen) with the Unsung Hero award going to Alastair Nicholson (Third Sector Hebrides). Well done guys.

I’m very interested in the training, support and status which is appropriate for the new community organisers: my aim would be to de-professionalise community work – to make it an activity for ordinary people – with ordinary support.  Here’s a piece by such a community organiser – unvarnished – unpretentious – ordinary.

This week’s bulletin profiles the revitalized Glencraft in Aberdeen. Threatened with closure just over a year ago, a new business plan was put in place to build on the work of the previous company. Operating as Glencraft (Social Enterprise) Ltd, the company continues to manufacture high quality mattresses and beds. With a history dating back to the 1840s, the new company has managed to secure employment and training for around 30 blind and disabled from the surrounding area. For more, see

Fritz Schumacher’s basic message can be expressed in a simple serene sentence.  “Our task is to look at the world – and see it whole”.  In the context of recent events in Japan – it is timely to recall his brave burning words about atomic energy which he considered a fundamental transgression against life.  “There could be no clearer example of the prevailing dictatorship of economics… That nuclear fission represents an incredible, incomparable, and unique hazard for human life does not enter any calculation and is never mentioned”  To submit to the nuclear lobby, he continues, “is a transgression against life itself, a transgression infinitely more serious than any crime ever perpetrated by man.  The idea that a civilisation could sustain itself on the basis of such a transgression is an ethical, spiritual, and metaphysical monstrosity.”

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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