Senscot Bulletin: 02.03.12

Dear members and friends,

 I find it sad that the ‘Occupy’ camps are being dismantled – because this is not just a left/right issue – there remains deep unease throughout the world that our main financial operating system either doesn’t work or is rigged.  While trashing our banks and corrupting public life – the ‘free market’ has now been seen to accord freedom only to a tiny rich elite; but like the undead – even as it decomposes – neoliberalism stumbles on!  Over the past decade, the social enterprise community (of which Senscot is part) has gained a foothold; it offers a genuine alternative – and fairer – vision of how society can be organised.  Doing business for people and planet – rather than unlimited gain for a powerful elite.
 Someone introduced me to the work of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai – who was a compassionate humanist – in a country driven mad by religion.  His lovely poem ‘The place where we are right’ struck a chord with me this week.  "From the place where we are right, flowers will never grow in spring.  The place where we are right, is hard and trampled like a yard.  But the doubts and loves dig up the world – like a mole – a plough.  And a whisper will be heard in the place where the ruined house once stood."  I find this final image profoundly comforting.  The ruin of the house (the present economic order?) is probably inevitable; but I imagine ‘the whisper’ as a message of hope.

This week, the British public asked the Govt. to cancel the compulsory element of work experience for young people – wisely the Govt complied.  An important principle was at stake – which even the private sector partners understood; that compulsory unpaid work ‘pro bono publico’ is not the same as ‘pro bono Tesco’! The satisfactory compromise reached in no way contradicts the wide public support for reform of the benefits system.  Talk of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor must never be allowed to return to our discourse – but some kind of reciprocity between welfare recipients and the ‘common good’ – would make the relationship more ‘real’.  As Andrew Rawnsley wrote in the Observer – Labour should not forget that this is what most citizens want. See,

Social Housing in Scotland is regulated; during 12 weeks at the end of last year The Regulator consulted on proposed changed to the regulations.  The proposal which attracted most resistance related to a perceived attempt to ‘professionalise’ governance – by paying board members – and limiting how long they be allowed to serve.  A campaign against these proposals was led by the community owned HAs (GWSF) and the employers’ organisation (EVH).  The consultation response this week makes it clear that the Regulator has listened.  Well done everyone.

From 2012-2015, Scottish Govt will provide around £8m per annum for the new People and Communities Fund (PCF) – as part of the overarching Regeneration Investment Fund. PCF is specifically to support community-led regeneration – through the promotion of Community Anchor organisations across Scotland. Areas without much local activity – that don’t yet have an Anchor – like a Development Trust – will be eligible for help from the new fund. See,

My pal Steve Wyler, director of Locality, uses his column this week to reflect on the ‘contamination’ in England of the terms social enterprise and social entrepreneur.   American usage (imported in Skoll, Schwab, Big Society Capital etc) locates our world as a subset of private business – my guess is that the English govt is comfortable with this. See, In Scotland, SE is a third sector activity.  Our Voluntary Code of Practice – with its asset lock – leaves no room for confusion – with the private sector. See,

Over the years, Which – the consumer mag – has been getting much more ‘interventionist’ in tackling rip-offs by a range of suppliers.  First they started launching ‘supercomplaints’ to a number of regulatory agencies, then they launched Which Local which creates a positive feedback loop to small local suppliers – and now they are running The Big Switch.  It is an attempt to marshall large numbers of prospective energy switchers to see if they can negotiate far bigger and better deals from the energy suppliers. To date, they have over 160,000 expressions of interest. There is no obligation to switch but if you are not registered by 31st March you won’t be in the loop to get any offers that arise. To register, see 

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Teenage Cancer Trust, Turning Point Scotland, Gowrie Care Ltd, Alness Transition Town Group, Alness Community Association, FEAT Enterprises, PSS Scotland, Playbusters Ltd,
EVENTS: Portobello Market day, 3 Mar; Co-Housing – Planning for Your Future, 6 Mar; Drill Hall Food Market, 10 Mar; West End Women’s Heritage Walk, 11 Mar; The Value of Carers’ Centres. 19 Mar; Over 25 TENDERS: Coalfield Community Futures Programme 2012, PAT Testing for Falkirk Council, Business Gateway services in Lanarkshire, Dumfries & Galloway and the Ayrshire’s. For more details see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes:  The Cultural and Creative SEN has taken considerable strides this year. Membership has increased to 25 SEs; a leadership programme ahs been agreed with the Social Enterprise Academy; and a conference is scheduled for the autumn. The SEN is still keen to reach out to other Cultural and Creative organisations that are making a significant social impact in areas such as youth, equality and health.  As part of this, a leaflet has been created, highlighting social enterprise as a business model for the cultural and creative industries. It’s titled ‘An Introduction to Social Enterprise and the Cultural and Creative Sector’. See flyer,  For more Networks News, see 

Our call for donations for 2012 comes to an end this week. We’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to donate. Your support – reciprocity – is very much appreciated. Our tally for the year is: Full members – 90; Associate members – 31; Donors – 21; Donations (money) – approx £7k; See full members’ list,

The SE Exchange takes place on 27th March at the SECC in Glasgow. So far, over 1,000 delegates have signed up, representing 20 different countries – and including over 100 SEN members – and the organisers, CEiS events, have ensured that over 20 social enterprises will be directly involved in the supply of food, social media and recycling etc. Closing date for booking is Tuesday 13th March. See,

High profile social enterprise Impact Arts has begun recruiting for a new CEO. Susan Aktemel, the organisation’s founder/director, has intimated her intention to stand back – with a view perhaps to launching a new enterprise. Best of luck, Susan. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles an arts company based in Leith that is committed to creating exciting new theatre and arts projects both with and for communities. ACTive INquiry, a member of the Cultural and Creative SEN, promotes increased participation in the arts as a catalyst for more active involvement in society. The range of projects that they are involved with includes the active participation of all sectors of our communities: young, old, people with disabilities; and people from minority ethnic groups. For more, see

Richard Holloway on Graham Greene. 

Graham Greene knew that it was our failures that kept us human – great writers understand this better than most.  Tennessee Williams knew that if he’d exorcised his demons he’d have destroyed his angels as well.  And the poet Ian Crichton Smith writes that "from our weakness only are we kind" – Greene would have agreed with them both.  There was human solidarity in weakness, fellowship in failure.  That’s why the spoiled priest in his greatest novel ‘the Power and the Glory`, was overwhelmed with compassion for other losers.  When you looked at other men and women, "you could always begin to feel pity.  When you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate.  Hate was just a failure of imagination."  And that had to include self-hatred.  In ‘Greeneland’, in the end, everyone is forgiven because everyone is understood.

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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