Senscot Bulletin: 03.06.11

Dear members and friends,

Big reaction to last week’s column about the Home Farm Garden Centre for oldies; nearly 500 downloads – lots of emails from folks with similar ideas. I sense that there’s a huge appetite out there to reconnect to the land – to grow the food we eat – for some kind of value-based shared living. I am reminded of Alastair McIntosh’s important book – `Soil and Soul` – which captured the elemental inter-relationship between land – community and the human spirit. The volume of feedback suggests that something new is building; It’s sad that so many of the projects I heard about this week are stalled for the want of a bit of land.
 As Andy Wightman tells us in his book, `The Poor Had No Lawyers`, Scotland has around 5 million people – occupying 20million acres (4 acres each) and yet families are homeless – young people can’t afford starter homes – young farmers have no prospect of getting hold of a farm. Our dysfunctional land ownership structures are the product of centuries of abuse – a landed elite organising things for themselves – against public interest. With the connivance of the legal establishment, millions of acres once held in common, have been appropriated. The Scottish Parliament should enact a Land Restitution Bill – to reclaim the stolen land – for the benefit of our young people – and the Home Farm Garden Centre for oldies. See info on both books,

Friends, whose work I respect, tell me that `payment by results` contracts are detrimental to the delivery of front-line services – particularly to the most needy. Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Co, is the latest high profile CEO to warn services commissioners not to go there – that it will create invisible groups of the most disadvantaged citizens, whom no-one will work with. See, ( But if there is widespread agreement among leading practitioners, that this is the wrong way to go – why is there so much hype around Social Impact Bonds? The enthusiasm from politicians is easy to understand – are they aware of the implications? But the most persistent lobby comes from the people who do understand. The army of private sector consultancy firms – who feed off our sector – who can smell big money.

Good article by Foster Evans about the potential of community-based Housing Associations (CBHA) to act as Anchor Organisations – around which public services can be organised in any given area. CBHAs provide a core of professional expertise with high trust levels and intimate knowledge of their communities. They are, as yet, an under-utilized resource.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) is hosting a day conference on 28th June, called `Community Regeneration and Social Enterprise`. It is an attempt to accelerate the spread of social enterprise across the Housing Association sector. Speakers include Laurie Russell (Wise Group), George Thomson (VDS) and Colin Campbell (Senscot). See,

Social investors report that only 16% of social enterprises which approach them are `investable` – with robust, proven business models. An article in the Guardian social enterprise network suggests that, in aiming at the `top end` – the Big Society Bank is mistaken – that there’s already enough investment available here. Start-up ventures, however, require risk capital and grants – to test their ideas – until they start paying their way. As Senscot consistently argues – this is the priority for new investment. See,

After 5 years leading Scotland’s Social Enterprise Coalition, Antonia Swinson has decided to move on to fresh challenges. She was an enthusiastic champion of our emerging social enterprise community and played a leading role in raising its profile. She carries a rare confidence at the top levels in both corporate and political circles. I have an enduring memory of Antonia walking Alex Salmond to the door after some reception – slipping her arm through his. She’s a one-off – we wish her well. See statement from the Coalition,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week:
JOBS: Spruce Carpets; The Place2Be; Better World Books; Federation of Scottish Theatre; Hear My Music; Scotland Malawi Partnership; Communication Forum Scotland; Social Enterprise Academy; Scottish Autism
EVENTS Mystery History Session, 9 Jun; Housing and People – the future of rural communities, 10 Jun; HISEZ Open Day, 13 Jun; Hard times: Self evaluation in a challenging climate, 17 Jun;
TENDERS: Delivery of Business Gateway Business Skills Workshops & Specialist Advice in the Outer Hebrides; Machrihanish Airbase Community Company – Business Consultancy Stage; Potential for Renewable Local Energy Generation in the Stirling Council area

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Wednesday (1st June) saw Scotland’s first Social Enterprise & Sport national conference take place in Stirling. Over 100 delegates attended, giving the event a great buzz – feedback, to date, has been really positive. Keynote speaker, Mel Young (Homeless World Cup) rounded off his presentation with a call for a bespoke social enterprise sport strategy. Delegates fed in their views on how to design a clear vision for a sustainable community sports infrastructure for Scotland. Once we collate all feedback, a draft strategy will be circulated for consultation (Full Report on Conference to follow). This will take place over the summer months. And more good news followed yesterday, with our Sports Minister, Shona Robison, announcing a series of new initiatives that includes a £500,000 fund to encourage community ownership and management of sport facilities. See,
For more Networks News, see

Last week, we put together specific third sector/social enterprise references within the local Change Plans. Here`s the completed list. See,

Sad news about the recent death of Catriona McPhee-Smith (aged 46) in Aberdeen in April. Catriona was a true social entrepreneur – a pivotal figure in the early days of Cornerstone and, after that, Inspire – two nationally renowned disability charities. Catriona was recognised for her work through awards such as the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 and the Institute of Directors Scotland Voluntary Sector Director of the Year 2009. See more,

See 2011‘Who’s Who’ Guide to social enterprise in Scotland (750 downloads). We’ll be continuing to update this. See,

We’re not normally big fans of international conferences but are making an exception for the Social Capital World Forum (SCWF) in Austria this September. The term Social Capital is often associated with academic and political circles when, in reality, the work of so many in our sector, in delivering improved social, economic and environmental benefit to local communities, is exactly that – building social capital. The SCWF believes that greater knowledge of social capital, the terminology and the structures, can help demonstrate the importance of such work for more sustainable and prosperous communities. For more info, contact  See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles a sports social enterprise that provides a one stop shop on all aspects of youth football in Scotland. Youth Football Scotland was set up, with the support of Scotland unLtd and Firstport, and now offers a range of services for all those connected with the game across the country. These include a page for every club in Scotland; maps and directions to every pitch; interactive and communication tools; and a place for players to find clubs; they are all geared towards raising the profile of the youth game. For more, see

Extract from an article by David Brooks – author of Social Animal.

“ Over recent years, geneticists, neuroscientists, psychologists and others – have made great strides in understanding the inner workings of the human mind; the rich underwater world of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, traits etc. A core finding of this work is that we are not primarily the products of our conscious thinking. We better understand now, the relative importance of emotion over pure reason – social connections over individual choice – moral intuition over abstract logic – perceptiveness over IQ. The conscious mind may choose what we buy – but it’s evident that choosing what we like is unconscious.”

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