Senscot Bulletin: 02.10.09

Dear members and friends,

During September, I got 2 weeks in the marvellous heat and light of Andalusia – building resistance to the coldness and darkness to come. If I had the means I’d probably spend more time in Southern Spain – not only for the sun – also the people. Andalusians and Scots have much in common – from generations of hardship and oppression, we share stoicism and a defiant pride. The theft of common land into massive estates and the feudal indifference of the gentry helped shape the visions of Burns and Lorca – the politics of John McLean and La Passionara. The Andaluz are warm and hospitable people who love ‘fiesta’ – and their humour could be West of Scotland – with a dark edge that knows life’s harsh realities.
 My Sunday lunch expeditions took us recently to Monachyle Mhor Restaurant in the Trossachs. £31 for 3 courses – but this is a serious kitchen – memorable meal. The setting is also spectacular – 8 miles down a single track road skirting Loch Voil. Rain clouds swirled around the Braes of Balquhidder – soft smirr kept the wipers on – but the effect was in no way sombre – the weather perfectly matched the mood and the setting. While I love the Med – Scotland is a heart wrenchingly beautiful country. On the way back we paused at Rob Roy’s grave – remembered MacDiarmid’s line: ‘I want for my part only the little white rose of Scotland that smells sharp and sweet – and breaks the heart’.

Last week the Scottish Govt published a `joint statement` about its relationship with the third sector at a local level – what it calls `the single interface`. The consultation process excluded the social enterprise sector (in spite of representations from our Coalition) and the resultant `joint statement` manages to omit any reference to social enterprise. Scottish Govt would appear to have reverted to the position that SCVO legitimately represents all sections of the third sector – which is simply not the case. A legitimate coalition of the modern third sector in Scotland would acknowledge the authority of several quite distinct and sovereign groupings – traditional charities – social enterprises – community sector – social housing sector etc. If our Govt is saying that it will only relate to a single national third sector interface, then we need to scrap the present monopolistic structure and move to a federation of equals. Senscot has written in these terms to Third Force News

I have a personal prejudice that social enterprises are at their best when embedded in communities.  It’s not just the empowerment of ownership – but their ability to rope in everyone, even those individuals whom the market and state bureaucracies have written off.  No one is more aware of this than Peter Holbrook, the inspiring CEO of the Sunlight Trust in Kent and the news that he is to be the next CEO of the SE Coalition in London bodes well for future collaboration. An inspired appointment.

Mike Finlayson, CEO of Forth Sector, has posted a blog on the NewStart site which is remarkable for its honesty and insight.  He makes several controversial points about social enterprise (like there’s no such thing) but the one which rang my bell concerns the hazards of starting grant dependent businesses.

Scottish Govt’s draft budget shows much reduced spending on regeneration – including community engagement.  It’s a sad reflection of our shrinking press that the only comment and analysis I’ve seen of these cuts is in the English magazine Regeneration and Renewal.  Here’s a very creditable Scottish overview by Susie Sell.

The chief secretary of the Treasury, Liam Byrne, told a fringe meeting at the Labour Conference this week that he is ‘extremely interested’ in the idea of USA type law to compel banks to reinvest in poor communities.  Such a move by the Govt would increase the flow of social investment into our third sector far more than any other measures under discussion.

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: The Scottish Government, Depression Alliance Scotland (DAS), Edinburgh Cyrenians, Castle Furniture Project, Scottish Drugs Recovery Consortium, YMCA George Williams College, The GRAB Trust
EVENTS: East Perthshire Walking Festival, 4 Oct; Stress Less, 7 Oct; Assertiveness Skills, 8 Oct; SOL’s Navigation to…Self Directed Support, 21 Oct
NETWORKS NEWS:  Colin writes: I attended the ‘Healthier Lives, Wealthier Communities’ in Edinburgh this week. Key themes included demonstrating added value (SROI), the importance of Community Benefit Clauses and how Single Outcome Agreements can ensure that public health targets are delivered. Senscot and SSEC have commissioned The Pool to review how social enterprise is figuring in SOAs across the country. We’ll have the full report next week but early indications are that it will make pretty depressing reading. For more Networks News, see

Scottish Govt launched its new Third Sector Resilience Fund this week. The Fund (£1.7m) is the Govt`s response to the twin impacts of recession on organisations of increased demand for their services and cash flow difficulties. Grants of between £10k – £100k will be available to organisations that can demonstrate how the recession has led to increased demand or has significantly undermined their services. The Fund will be open for 5 weeks from the end of October and monies will be allocated in one-off payments. See more,

After the success of the inaugural Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh last September, this year’s event takes place in Melbourne, Australia ( 6th- 8th Oct). A delegation from Scotland is heading over this weekend. We’ll be strongly represented during this international conference with contributions from CRNS, DTA Scotland, Social Firms Scotland, CEiS and the Wise Group. See more

Those of you lucky enough to get to our AGM last week heard a moving address from Edgar Cahn about how society’s main operating system – what makes it work – is families, neighbourhoods, communities and civil society.  On the same theme here is an article from the latest journal of the Royal Society of Arts by David Halpern who argues that social capital (an economy of Regard) is a better measure of national wealth than economic indications.

This week’s bulletin profiles an emerging social enterprise that runs a professional touring arts company with a host of creative participation projects. Secure Artistic Talent (SAT) organises tours to schools, community centres etc as well as providing a consultancy service that supports organisations aiming to use the arts to engage all sections of the community – particularly those who are considered hard to reach. For more, see

A regular Senscot correspondent from the Outer Hebrides, Marie Campbell, is looking for a copy of Tom Leonard’s poem ‘The Liaison Co-ordinator’ – can’t find mine. When, years ago, I read ‘6 Glasgow Poems’, I didn’t judge it ‘real’ poetry – I’m a better judge now – marvellous stuff – how people really speak. In his current collection ‘Outside the Narrative’ Leonard ends a poem with these lines – which resonate with me.
“And though he had never been a storyteller, he saw that he had been telling a story all his life. It became important to him that somebody heard the story, now that he realised he had been telling it. Yet all that remained to be told was that he had been telling it. And all that remained was the need for the last understanding, the sign that someone had heard the story, and the teller was no longer necessary.” See more,

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

Best wishes,

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