Senscot Bulletin: 03.05.13

Dear members and friends,

 It’s a privilege to work in the third sector – supporting networks which reach deep into troubled communities.  At this time – the fastest growing need is for the very basics of life; this coming winter it is anticipated that thousands of Scottish children will want for food or heat – or both.
 I read this week about the revival of a beautiful Neapolitan tradition – which was commonplace in that city a century ago; a customer will pay for an extra cup of coffee – called Un Caffe Sospeso (suspended) – on the understanding that the barista will serve a free coffee to some total stranger – a gesture of solidarity will all of humankind.  The custom has spread to Spain – Cafes Pendientes (pending) and to France – Cafe En Attente (waiting).  The Herald this week had a piece about Paul McGill (50) – who runs a deli in Glasgow’s Mount Florida – who wants to introduce this practice.  He sees kids pass every day with their mothers – whom he knows are in need.  If customers buy extra food and drink – he’s willing to pass it on – quietly and anonymously.
 One senses here the kernel of a lovely idea – but I can’t visualise how it would work.  As we know – even from our own families – helping people can be complicated; ‘giving’ is essentially a power transaction, which can change relationships; it takes genuine humility – on both sides – to make it work.  See,

We still have copies of ‘Kindness’ – Laurence’s latest selection of bulletin intros (2007-12). If you’d like a copy, see

Michael Sandel’s important book: What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets – comes out in paperback on 7th May; I believe it has an important message for us all.  Sandel has no problem with the market economy.  "No other mechanism for organising the production and distribution of goods has proved as successful at generating affluence and prosperity."  His complaint is that in recent years, markets are increasingly moving into areas where they don’t belong – into spheres of life governed by non-market values; we’re creating a ‘market society’ – in which just about everything is up for sale – he says.  He argues that markets are detached from morality – and will tend to crowd out – to corrode – non market values.  This is my main objection to the UK govt’s attempt to marketise third sector activity; we are missing a fundamental debate about the morality of this encroachment.  Sandel sets out his position in this article for The Atlantic.  See,

There are 16,000 ‘looked after’ children in Scotland; 1% of them will ever go to university; 50% will have a mental health issue; these stats are nothing short of a national disgrace. The Big Lottery Fund launched the £50m life Changes Fund this week – half of which will be directed at young people leaving care. See,

On 18th April, the Scottish Govt’s Third Sector Early Intervention Fund (TSEIF) announced the 96 organisations who have been awarded a share of £30m. This is a list of names and amounts – but inevitably in difficult times, there is a distressing list of losers – some of whom will struggle to survive at all. See,

Cam Donaldson, of Glasgow Caley Yooni, was over at a symposium in the USA – where he presented research about SE in Scotland. The central thesis – that Community Enterprise can enhance the general health of communities – is one which Senscot would be keen to promote. But Andrew Hook who reviewed this event for Scottish Review, was of the opinion that the academic language of such research restricts readership. See,

You may be aware that the Scottish Land Reform Review Group is due to publish its phase 1 interim report any day now. The group comprises only 3 members, working intensely: Alison Elliot (Chair), Sarah Skerratt and Jim Hunter. For personal reasons, Hunter pulled out and our colleague, Ian Cooke from DTAS has replaced him. Ian’s hands-on experience of the Scottish community sector will add to the process. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Social Investment Scotland, Positive Steps Initiatives, Patient Opinion, Aberdeen Foyer, Routes to Work South, Remade in Edinburgh, YWCA Glasgow, Lochboisdale Development Limited
EVENTS: Portobello Market, Edinburgh, (PEDAL), 4 May; VSA Spring Fayre, 11 May; Free Workshop & Study Visit Series, 16 May;
TENDERS: Care and Repair service in West Lothian, Provision of A Mixed Plastic and Cans Recycling Service in Fife and Fixed Wiring and PAT testing in Stirling. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: It is anticipated that the contract for administering the new Enterprising Third Sector Growth and Sustainability Fund will be announced shortly. Last year, there were over 600 applications – with awards being made to around 60 organisations. Scottish Govt informs us that this year’s Fund is likely to have specific categories for organisations – with a strong emphasis on ‘demonstrating you are investment ready and have received business support’. If you plan to submit an application, it would be wise to start thinking about engaging with a business support provider. See more,  For more Networks News, see

We mentioned recently that the ReadyforBusiness consortium’s contract with Scottish Govt – Developing Markets – has now been extended until March 2014. The success of its work was recognised last week with its shortlisting as a finalist at the UK-wide GO Awards for Best Supplier Engagement – they hit the crossbar. This week, they have also produced the first in what will be a series of monthly newsletters highlighting their work. See,

Senscot was well represented last Friday – when the 17 networks which comprise the Scottish Community Alliance – ‘occupied’ the Holyrood parliament for a day conference entitled ‘the Future is Local’.  Three quick personal impressions: journalist Lesley Riddoch’s energy and intelligence is a singular asset to our movement; likewise the leadership of Derek McKay – the minister for Local Government and Planning – he understands and supports local empowerment.  But mostly I felt the pride – the historical significance – of 200 active citizens assembling in our parliament.  See videos,

Senscot’s feasibility work around a Scottish Community Banking Trust is stepping up; Aidan and consultant, Pauline Hinchion will be out and about conducting interviews.  One of the areas being explored is ‘crowdfunding’ in all its varieties.  This helpful analysis, by Jenna Pudelek of Third Sector, includes a case study of Buzzbnk – founded by Theresa Burton and my old friend Michael Norton.  See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that engages with children, young people and their families within Cambuslang, Rutherglen and wider South Lanarkshire. Project 31 delivers a range of services – play, sport, leisure activities and workshops and more – that services can be utilised to meet personal development, educational, environmental, social, health and well-being and community engagement outcomes. All income generated is re-invested in Project 31’s wider work in the community. Project 31 is currently recruiting volunteers and sessional staff to support its work. For more, see

On 12th October 2007, I wrote my column on Cormac MacCarthy’s book The Road – the impact it had on me – see,  This week George Monbiot considers the book "the greatest environmental work ever written."  He remembers – as I did – that final haunting paragraph:

 "Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains.  You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow.  They smelled of moss in your hand.  Polished and muscular and torsional.  On their back were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming.  Maps and mazes.  Of a thing which could not be put back.  Not to be made right again.  In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man they hummed of mystery."

Monbiot expands on the theme of trout – as a powerful metaphor for the environmental movement.  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