Senscot Bulletin: 03.10.14

Dear members and friends,

 My country cottage is close to South Queensferry – the nearest hub for shops, doctors, café’s etc; no matter how often I see it – I never tire of staring at the Forth Bridge – the grandeur and sheer ‘achieve’ of it; they must have had real bottle – those entrepreneurs and engineers in top hats.  In the 1880s sheet steel was a new product – such a span had never been attempted – yet they conjured this world icon of engineering.
 And I can remember the actual day in 1964 when the Road Bridge opened; cos I foolishly set out (black Vauxhall Cresta) to drive across – into the worst traffic jam in history.  I enjoyed the recent BBC documentary celebrating 50 years; some of the guys who built the bridge – still live in ‘The Ferry’; they spoke on camera with fond memories of their involvement.
 And now the new Forth Replacement Crossing is making its impact on the local landscape; dramatic new connecting roads take shape – bridges, underpasses, roundabouts; men and machines move with steady momentum; there is something stirring about the impact of major civil engineering projects – exhilarating.  I’ve been down a few times to the spot where the new bridge rises from the south bank of the Forth; already in place – the two giant girders that will eventually carry the carriageway.  Chatting to the men – you are struck by the pride and the ownership they feel.  I’m left with the hope that we Scots can get back to our tradition of making things; I suspect we’re still good at it. 

In England, some commentators use the term ‘for profit social enterprise’; in Scotland that’s an oxymoron – an SE is by definition asset locked – if not, it’s something else.  The SE community in the London bubble – comes under a lot of pressure from investment bankers – who have invented a product called ‘impact investment’; this is marketed to all manner of hybrid businesses – whoever can be persuaded to take on debt.  Mainly from the USA – they are trying to create a money-driven ‘for profit social sector’ – which directly challenges the accepted values of the UK third sector.  This is why Senscot and CAN ended our relationship with UnLtd.  Both the State and the general public – afford our work privileged status – precisely because it excludes private gain.  This was UnLtd’s response to our ‘divorce’ announcement.  See,

To qualify for social investment tax relief (SITR) the investment must be in a ‘regulated’ social enterprise.  A Community Interest Company (CIC) is a regulated legal form – but Senscot hears frequent anecdotes about sole traders who masquerade as CICs.  Profits are locked-in – but they wilfully avoid any surplus by simply paying themselves a bonus.  Such malpractice risks the reputation of all CICs.  See,

Prof. Harry Burns – Scotland’s hugely respected former chief medical officer – took to Twitter recently to assert that the indyref result “put the country’s poor back in their place; the comfortable middle class voted to stay comfortable – so who now speaks for the poor.”  Strong words from Sir Harry see,   This was also the theme of Kevin McKenna’s scathing Observer piece this week – claiming that Labour in Scotland has squandered its bond with working class communities.  Where now in Scotland is the party of the centre left?  See,

Prof. Jim Gallagher – who has emerged as a passionate supporter of the union – circulates a paper with the biblical title ‘the day after judgment’. I find it unnecessarily triumphalist in tone – and his Conclusion reads like a patronising homily – a cringe. Gallagher hopes that independence is ‘sorted’ till 2044 – is he having a laugh? It’s a worry that some of the ‘experts’ don’t realise how much the game has changed. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: LAMH Recycle Ltd, Vivarium Trust, Argyll Community Housing Association, Bruntsfield Community Greengrocers, The Law Society of Scotland, RAMH, Mellow Parenting, Dundee SEN
EVENTS: National Study Day, 4 Oct; Portobello Market, 4 Oct; FREE: Introduction to Tendering Workshop, 8 Oct; March of Women: Creative Workshops, 8 Oct; Pre-Start Leadership, 9 Oct;
TENDERS: Project Vision, Activity Planning Research and Community Consultation, Kilmartin House Trust; Tender for the Provision of Occupational Health Service, Dundee City Council; A two way conversation with the people of Scotland on the social impact of offshore renewable, Scottish Government; more here

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Bookings for this year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh (13th/14th Nov) are going pretty well – over 110 places have been filled – around 30 still available. Delegate rate for SEN Members is £50 and includes Conference/Ceilidh/Dinner/B&B (day only rate is £30) at the Westerwood Hotel. To get a booking form, email, Last week, we opened applications for this year’s Dragons’ Den – £5k to the winner – closing date for entries is Monday 27th October. We will then shortlist 5 applicants to face to ‘Dragons’. To apply, see Also, draft programme is also available here,  For more SENs News, see

We mentioned a couple of weeks back of our intention to explore, with others, the notion of producing a refreshed/updated ‘SE Strategy for Scotland’. This has been, in part, in response to emerging ‘strategies’ from the likes of Scottish Govt; HIE; EU Funding; BIG Lottery etc. An initial, scoping meeting took place yesterday – looking at what approach should be taken; what the Strategy should include; how wide ranging it should be; should it be more of a macro than micro approach; and a timescale for completion. As a starting point, it was agreed to submit a joint SE response to the Smith Commission – by 31st Oct – trawling opinion from our respective networks – and then develop a more substantive document by the end of the year.  See,

What do you think of Richard Branson’s new idea – that his staff should be free to determine for themselves what holidays they take?  Part of me is a control freak – wanting to clamp down on skivers… but I know he’s right – that people respond to being treated with respect and trust  – see,  Of course this freedom is only discussed in relation to the kind of work I’ve always enjoyed – the ‘grunt’ jobs are different.  I’m reading the reviews of a new book by Linda Tirado called ‘Hand to Mouth: the truth about being poor in a wealthy world’.  It’s an angry book about living on the breadline in the USA.  Sometimes a howl of protest is all we’ve got to give.  See,

This weeks’ bulletin stays on the theme of community food with a profile on Newbold House in Forres – which is part of the wider Findhorn Foundation Community. Newbold House offers a range of experiences and programmes that include a community guest programme; seasonal gardening course; a workshop venue as well as full catering facilities – including excellent B&B accommodation. Newbold also looks to form partnerships with individuals and organisations to provide a broad range of educational experiences in many aspects of sustainability – from conservation and ecology to conflict resolution. For more, see

Our community sector hosts a number of important events each year – but it’s not often that they can be categorised as genuinely international affairs. Nourish Scotland’s annual conference comes into this category. ‘Our Common Wealth of Food’ takes place on 16th/17th Oct at the Royal Concert Hall & The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow –  bringing together up to 300 delegates from Scotland, the UK and across the globe – all sharing concerns about how to address food inequality. A key theme will be – ‘What would it take for everyone to eat well without messing up the planet? And how should Scotland play its part? ‘Places are still available – deadline is 10th Oct. To book, see

Though I’ve never formally studied philosophy, it interests me – and I’m much enjoying a book called ‘Travels with Epicurus’;  an old geezer like me – living on the Greek island of Hydra – musing the various philosophies of old age; to adopt a ‘Forever Young’ attitude? – or to give yourself permission to be old? Epicurus (300BC) said: “It is not the young man who should be considered fortunate but the old man who has lived well, because the young man in his prime wanders much by chance, vacillating in his beliefs, while the old man has docked in the harbour, having safeguarded true happiness”.

I’ve not ‘docked’ yet – but certainly heading for the harbour.

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


Subscribe to this bulletin:

To unsubscribe or change subscription address/ e-mail

Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210