Senscot Bulletin: 03.01.08

Dear members and friends,

 The human family cannot live harmoniously on our wee planet under an economic system which rewards greed whilst causing widespread damage and injustice.   For those of us who work for social change, it has long been demoralising to watch capitalism overblown into a kind of mythology – ascribing to the market, almost magical powers.  Archbishop Rowan Williams wrote in the Spectator this week ‘‘Ascribing independent reality to what you have in fact made yourself is a perfect definition of what the Jewish and Christian scriptures call idolatry’’.
 Bankers are meant to be the stewards of our money – we are right to feel angry that they have allowed reckless greed to trash the whole system.  Lenin said that the rich can buy themselves out of anything – so long as they can get the rest of us to pay for it – is this not what’s happening now?  The UK and US governments are in deep cahoots with big business – we need to make sure that once this crisis is stabilised – that there is a proper reckoning.  We are presented with a rare opportunity for structural change – those of us who have a vision for a fairer world need to make sure that our financial system works for everyone – that it is stewarded as a socially maintained commons – not a private enclosure for rich chancers.
 From T.S Eliot’s ‘Choruses from the Rock’ – ‘‘When the Stranger says – ` What is the meaning of this city?  Do you huddle close together because you love each other?`  What will you answer? – `We all dwell together to make money from each other` or – `This is a community’.”

I am a keen supporter of what is being called ‘‘the Community Allowance’’, whereby people claiming state benefit would be allowed to work the equivalent of 15 hours a week at the minimum wage – to do work of community benefit (maximum additional earnings to be capped at £4,305 per annum).  From my days as a front line community worker I believe that this measure would benefit both communities and individual claimants stranded on benefits.  50 community organisations have volunteered to pilot this proposal – check this out or join them on the Create website .Here’s a 2 page Community Allowance Briefing On the 9th October the UK Government (DWP) will host a consultation on Welfare Reform in Edinburgh

Did you see Jamie Oliver’s ‘Ministry of Food’ on Tuesday?  Felicity Lawrence in Wednesday’s Guardian called it the most powerful political documentary in years: ‘‘Whether by intention or accident, the naked chef has entered the domestic life of a British town and captured a snapshot of the country’s social health.  The result is an indictment of the current political system – as disturbing as any ideological tract’’. We need to remember that many UK citizens don’t encounter the widening social divide. Jamie Oliver could be a serious social reformer.

Regular readers of this bulletin will know that the central focus of our content is a blend of social enterprise and community empowerment.  For ‘left wing’ social entrepreneurs the emphasis is on doing things ‘with’ people rather that ‘to’ or ‘for’ them.  Empowering local people is as important as delivering services.  For me the ‘elite’ social enterprises are those owned and embedded in the communities they serve.  The Sunlight Development Trust in Kent is a shining example.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has always been more aware than its lowland counterpart – Scottish Enterprise – of the economic benefit of empowering local communities. Aidan attended HIE`s Autumn seminar in Balachulish this week and reports a policy `nudge to the tiller` – with more focus on social enterprises with real growth potential. No change is apparent in Highland hospitality – he looks a bit tired!
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: incl. posts with: Children in Scotland, Camphill Blairdrummond, Central Scotland Forest Trust, Avante Consulting Ltd, Development Trusts Association Scotland, Midlothian Advice and Resource Centre
EVENTS: Dunkeld Apple Fair, 8 Oct, Dunkeld; Digital Switchover Event for Third Sector Organisations, 9 Oct, Various; Climate Change: Effective Communication, 23 Oct, Edinburgh; Facilitation Training Day, 23 Oct, Edinburgh; Health & Wellbeing Fair, 1 Nov, Aberdeen; ‘Progress beyond Politics’ – the social change debate, 4 Dec, Stirling

NETWORKS 1st News: Green C Kayaks launched their newly formed company this week – two years after winning the Dragons Den at the Social Enterprise Ceilidh (2006). David McBride and Julie Belasco won £4000 after pitching to the Dragons to develop their idea as part of their work with TACT Scotland.  We’re getting applications in for this year’s Den so make sure you don’t miss out, booking forms etc are available from the Networks 1st website For more NETWORKS News, see

The Social Enterprise Academy launched its new prospectus this month. It’s been a busy year so far with the appointment of a new Director (Neil McLean), the opening of a new office in Inverness and a number of other initiative involving schools as well as the development of other partnerships. Here’s a pdf of the prospectus.

Another element of the Scottish Government’s `Third Sector Action Plan` gets off the ground with the contract for Mentoring Services going out to tender this week. The contract will be initially for three years and will seek to identify appropriate mentors from the private business sector and mentees from the third sector and make appropriate matches. For more, see

The public sector spends approximately £8billion each year tendering for goods and services but many small businesses (including social enterprises) find it difficult to enter the public procurement market. The new Supplier Development Programme (SDP) aims to help social enterprises improve their chances of winning such contracts. The service is free.  For more, see

This week’s bulletin profiles the Coalburn Miners` Welfare in Lanarkshire. First set up in 1925, the miners Welfare has been a focal point of the community over the years. Its trading arm – the social club – now directs all profits towards supporting facilities and activities for the wider community. Their `One Stop Shop` provides a range of  services for the local community including a community shop, a post office, a cafe and, most recently, the installation of a cash machine. For more, see

Paul Newman is dead – of the many tributes this is my favourite – a letter to the Guardian for a Rose Di Santo from London.  My own enduring image is Butch Cassidy – on the bike with Katherine Ross – and ‘Raindrops keep falling on my Head’.

 “I had the great privilege of knowing Paul Newman.  For 20 summers, I worked as a volunteer at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Connecticut.  I’ve heard it said the camp was one of Mr Newman’s favourite places on earth.  I believe it, as the camp is part joy-filled magic, part hideaway for sick children.  I didn’t know the movie star. But I did have the honour of meeting a man who would patiently bait hooks for squealing campers for hours on a warm summer’s day.  Or lull a cabin full of homesick children to sleep with a bedtime story.  I didn’t know the outspoken activist.  But I did have the privilege of meeting a man who often visited and would always, always stop and listen to any child’s story with warmth and interest.  I didn’t know the social entrepreneur.  But I watched the fruits of one man’s dream grow into a network of camps and support programmes for children and families the world over.”

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

Best wishes,

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