Senscot Bulletin: 02.12.11

Dear members and friends,

Carol Ann Duffy’s new book of poems (Bees) has a line which has stayed with me all week: "What will you do now with the gift of your left life?" It reminds me that I still have a chunk of ‘left life’ to enjoy – and I’ve been reflecting on what I want to do with it.
 Also this week, I heard the story of Calum McLeod (1911-1988), a local crofter who famously built ‘Calum’s road’ on the isle of Raasay. Apparently Arnish on the north of the island, had no vehicular access – local authority didn’t want to know; so, over a period of about 10 years (1964-1974), Calum constructed one and three quarter miles of road – using little more than his spade, pick and wheelbarrow. When he was done – the Council surfaced and adopted the road. What a great story – exactly the sort of thing I would love to have done. The dogged physicality of it – out in all weathers – a yard a day – for 10 years. Awesome.
 My road building days are, of course, done – I’m looking for something gentler. But the actual task we choose in life doesn’t really matter – only so long as we love it. The writer and civil rights leader Howard Thurman said this: "Don’t ask yourself what the world needs – ask yourself what makes you come alive – and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Someday I’d love to walk Calum’s road – to feel his spirit.

Like many readers, I have long experience with social investment; Govt programmes – the Lottery – bank loans to buy premises, ease cashflow – different Trusts and Foundations etc; but beware – the term ‘social investment’ is now being used with a very different meaning. The banking industry – constantly seeking new markets – is evaluating whether our charity/social enterprise sector can be ‘adapted’ to become ‘investment ready’; by which they mean pay commercial returns on their money. For me, it is an appalling prospect that the money lenders should come to hold sway in our world. In this country, for good reason, personal gain and charitable activity are kept apart – by law. Our sector needs its own social investment mechanisms – which, like our businesses, are ‘asset locked’ against private gain. New Philanthropy Capital (a charity think tank) has published a report "Better to Borrow?"- which takes a balanced approach to the benefits and risks of getting involved with loans.  It also offers the best summary I’ve seen of the bespoke products on
offer to our sector. (Could do with a Scottish version). See,

At a time of widespread economic gloom, here’s an upbeat piece from Ed Mayo – secretary general of Co-operatives UK. As the financial house of cards – banks, bonds and bail outs – teeters on the brink – he tells about local people all across the UK stepping up to the plate. We’re going to see much more of this – bootstrap development – where local communities own, finance and operate the services they use. See,

Andy Wightman, Scotland’s leading land reform warrior, gave a talk in Perth last week, entitled ‘And the land lay still’.  When asked what difference Independence might make to the tenure and use of land – he pointed out that our Parliament is already in possession of the requisite powers – but no political party shows an appetite for radical change. His piece in Bella Caledonia points out how the powerful vested interests of the landowning elite can exert disproportionate influence, See,

I enjoyed my old friend David Donnison’s review of a new book on social policy – 16 different authors – every one a professor. Danny Dorling writes about ‘the supernova class’ – a very rich global elite – who operate at a level above the traditional ruling classes – and know exactly what they want. He thinks that our massively growing inequalities arise from their power. See,

Many of us believe that Scotland is missing a tier of democracy at community level – and that it was the municipalist ideology of successive Labour regimes which created this deficit. One would  have assumed that the SNP would be instinctive decentralisers – but for me the jury is still out on this. We need to take a good look at why community councils failed to flourish – is it a case of refurbishment or start again? Good piece in Third Force News. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week:
JOBS: Deputy Project Manager at Edinburgh Cyrenians, Faith in Community Scotland at Development Co-ordinator, Children & Young People Development Worker at Church of Scotland
EVENTS: PEDAL – Portobello Transition Town & Afternoon Twee: Christmas Markets, CEiS, Social Enterprise Scotland, SEUK: The Social Enterprise Exchange, 27 March, Just Enterprise: Leading Growth Leadership Programmes, Feb 12
TENDERS: Citizens and Money Advice Services, Provision of a Cafe, Plant & Gift Sales and Hospitality Services, Sub-Contractor & Supplier Packages in East Kilbride, Lanark & Perth

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: The Social Enterprise Exchange (a coming together of the S2S and Voice Conferences) takes place on Tuesday 27 March 2012 at the SECC in Glasgow. Senscot has negotiated 100 places for SEN members at the discounted rate of £50 (normally £95). If you would like to book places for yourself and/or colleagues, please fill in the attached form and return to us – ASAP. We’d like to get places filled before Xmas break. Senscot will act as the point of contact for the event organisers, CEiS Events. See,  NB: Unfortunately, those who have booked already will not be eligible for this offer.
For more Networks News, see

Senscot Legal (SL), this month, passed a landmark by engaging with its 100th client since it began trading at the start of this year. During this time, it has provided a range of services that include company formation and structures; employment matters; company policy advice; and property/leasing. In the new year, Senscot Legal will also be offering short two hour modules on all of the above. If you’re looking for support with any legal issue, contact Alan or Karina at See flyer,

Social Value Lab (SVL) is launching a new pilot programme, provide research to social enterprises and other third sector orgs at affordable prices – around 40% of ‘going rate’. Research4Change will focus on smaller scale assignments that could include the likes of market research, community consultation, service user surveys, etc. The research support is provided by a pool of research graduates, early career researchers, and experienced researchers with time on their hands. As Jonathan Coburn (Director of SVL) says, "Think EasyJet rather than BA". For more, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a community enterprise that is addressing environmental protection, relief of poverty and carbon reduction with a range of services and enterprises in the town of Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway. Moffat CAN – which stands for Carbon approaching Neutral – was constituted in 2009, initially focusing on a doorstep energy survey, to encourage uptake of insulation measures, and to promote energy efficiency It’s services and projects now include; recycling (food, furniture, can etc); community gardens; building restoration; and aquaponics. See more,

Historian Richard Gott has a book out called "Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt". This is from a New Statesman interview with him:

"What I wanted to emphasise was that the empire was a conquest. We conquered all these countries. We killed people on a huge scale and they rebelled – they didn’t want to be conquered. I always remember a story about the Aborigines who stood on the beach as the British arrived in 1798. They shouted at the British, who discovered that they were saying: "Go away!". Britain has lost most of its overseas possessions now, but the conceptual space or empire endures – the sort of mentality that thinks it’s alright to go around running the world. Obviously it survives in our ruling class, in institutions, such as the Foreign Office which feel we have a role to play in the world. It’s extraordinary, the extent to which Tony Blair revived the empire and chose to intervene all over the place – whereas I think that we should be no more significant than Bolivia."

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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