Senscot Bulletin: 01.11.2013

Dear members and friends,

All stages in life present the corresponding developmental tasks; the final stage – where I find myself – is no exception. ‘Us auld yins’ are adapting to becoming slower and weaker – to issues of confidence and needing help. At this stage there can also emerge a strong impulse to review – to evaluate – our past life – to ask the question: ‘is it ok to have been me?’
On the ‘action man’ aspect of my past – I give myself a comfortable pass mark – did I really do all that… But in the more important sphere of personal relationships – like finding a life partner – I’ve not done all that well. I can think of half a dozen women – who took a hard look at me as a potential partner – and decided against. There was a wildness which made me a risky prospect; and too many ‘protected zones’ and ‘keep out signs’; I don’t believe I ever made space for a partner. Living alone feels right for me – but I suspect a shared life is better – for those who dare.
Looking back can be painful – but our guilt is an expression of our humanity; there’s stuff we must learn to live with. Raymond Carver has a line: ‘But at intervals a sweetness appears – and given a chance – prevails’. The ‘sweetness’ is not ours to summon – but we can learn to face towards it. I’m booked on the Ryanair cattlewagon for Malaga tomorrow (Saturday) – next bulletin with my tootsies in the Med.
The tasks of old age explained, see
We still have copies of Kindness – Laurence’s latest collection of musings. £10 plus £2 postage; or 2 for £20 – postage paid. Christmas pressies? See,

British banking is in a shameful state – a monoculture of sharp practice – our political system can’t – or won’t – reform it. Even the Co-op bank – established on the values of mutuality – got contaminated. Read this week that the Salvation Army has its own bank (Resilience Bank) – which operates on strict principles of honesty and service. Its tiny, one branch – 21 staff (its top 5 managers each got a bonus of £489 last year) but it has 5,000 happy customers and looks after £200m. See,
Senscot leads a working group called the Scottish Community Banking Trust – which is exploring the feasibility of the Scottish third sector doing the same thing. Pooling the substantial resources of our sector – to provide a range of services which accord with the needs and values of our work. See slides,

New procurement regulations emerging from the EU will favour SEs over the giant profit driven contractors. The social and environmental value created by a service provider can now be taken into account; The EU favours contracts being subdivided into sizes deliverable by small, local SEs. Some contracts can even be exclusively reserved for social enterprises – see,
SE UK, which commissioned Zoe Williams’ excellent report, ‘The Shadow State’ – has published a follow up called ‘Out of the Shadows’ – tracking current developments. See, Key note speech by Nicola Sturgeon this week about Scottish procurement, see

On Wednesday in Edinburgh, Radical Scotland hosted the launch of a book of essays by Stephen Maxwell called ‘The Case for Left Wing Nationalism’ Stephen’s family and SCVO have established a Stephen Maxwell memorial lecture – which this year will be given on 21 November in Edinburgh; the speaker is Jane Jones and her subject is ‘The war on the Common Weal – taking a stand in 2014’. In my view, Stephen Maxwell was the Scottish third sector’s finest commentator. See,

The artist Peter Howson occupies a tortured world – but I’ve always been impressed by how much sense he talks – from the edge of darkness. This week was no exception. See,

Many of us in the third sector believe that payment by results (PBR) contracts carry the inherent danger – that deliverers will do the ‘easy stuff’- pick the low hanging fruit. A new report from NCVO claims that the PBR contracts are poorly constructed and are not working – but there is huge political pressure to pretend they are. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland, Firstport, SCORE Scotland, Turning Point Scotland, RAMH, Community Catalysts CIC, ED’s Cycle Co-op, The Touring Network (Highlands and Islands)
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 2 Nov; Innovation in Community Energy, 5 Nov; An Introduction to Selling, 6 Nov; Inform the Debate, 7 Nov; Cloud technology workshops, 8 Nov; How to write a business plan, 13 Nov;
TENDERS: Grounds Maintenance and Landscaping Contract – Copperworks Housing Co-operative Ltd, Maintenance and Content Management of the Scottish National Rural Network Website and Gender Based Violence Programme Utilising an Assets Based Approach and Evaluation – NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde,

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: The SE Conference and Ceilidh is less than two weeks away (14th/15th Nov). Numbers are around the 160 mark. The Dragons’ Den contestants have now been selected – all pitching for the Dragons’ £5k prize. Other prizes include – 2 days consultancy from Rocket Science; One-to-one coaching from the Social Enterprise Academy; and the Audience Prize which, as in previous years, will be crowd-funded. Folk will be contacted over the coming days to make their ‘pledge’. A new element to the event this year will be the ‘SE Pop-up Shop’ – selling products including honey, jam, jewellery, Christmas cards and much more. If interested, contact . Here’s a reminder of the Programme, see   For more SENs News, see,

When SEs go down the road of delivering contracted services – as agents of a public body – some would take the view that we enter a new culture; we lose a level of independence – to pursue our own mission – to challenge and innovate; this can result in a loss of moral energy. One of the workshops at the forthcoming Senscot residential conference, is titled ‘It’s not all about procurement’ – when it is hoped that some of these tensions can be examined.

Last week’s piece – alleging bias in an academic report (about how useful the landed gentry are) got an unusual number of hits (nearly 300). We should have linked to where we sourced this item (Andy Wightman’s blog) so that readers could review the abundant comments on Andy’s original blog.

It’s gradually dawning on everyone – that the level of public services which we enjoy – is beyond our means. Plan B is that citizens and communities do more for themselves; ‘community led’, so long resisted by local authorities, is now the favoured policy. Typical of the new frontline wave of energy are the community led health organisations; their umbrella organisations (Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing and funding) has increased membership in the past year from 26 to 74. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Edinburgh that , as well as running as a professional business, looks to support creative culture by providing a point of sale for grass roots designers and helping young people find employment with their retail training programme. ICE Store, based in the St James Centre in Edinburgh, provides a wide range of handmade items – jewellery, gifts, photography, art and bags – all made by artists and designers living in Scotland. In addition to this, they provide a 5 week retail training programme for unemployed young adults. For more, see

The current Resurgence mag has made me aware of the Buddhist poet Maitreyabandhu; an exciting discovery; I’ve got his first volume The Crumb Road – chose this one from a love of both Rilke and Cézanne.

Letters on Cézanne

“Rilke said when he went to the Salon d’Automne with Mathilde Vollmoeller to see the Cézannes or perhaps it was Mathilde who said it and Rilke wrote about it in one of those letters to his wife. Letters describing days of rain and going every day to see the Cézannes, that the colour of his paintings, each colour knowing every other colour in a perpetual dialogue and exchange, that the colours blended in the air around them, mixed into a neutral grey, an atmosphere of equipoise, almost velvet-like – the black and white only defining the limits of his wide-open palette. It should be the same with us: the Yes balancing out the No, Joy calming Despair without cancellation: a day of sun and a day of rain’’. See,

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