Senscot Bulletin: 04.02.11

Dear members and friends,

 Not owning a mobile phone these days is so unusual that I sense some people consider it an affectation; but my reason is very simple – privacy – I have no desire to be permanently ‘on call’.  Mark Zukerberg, the founder of Facebook believes that ‘privacy is no longer a social norm’ – and that seems to be the way things are going – am I alone in resisting this.  It is now commonplace when meeting with someone, to be `put on hold` while they answer their phone – no awareness, how disrespectful this is. Electronic communication has become so incessant that it displaces human contact.
 I find myself increasingly influenced by new discoveries in the field of Neuroscience – how the brain works.  It is now uncontested that we humans are ‘hardwired’ for social contact – for personal relationships.  Infant brain development and our lifelong wellbeing are dependant on intimacy.  I sometimes worry that our young people confuse the babble of electronic communication – with meaningful relationship.  For sure, texting is easier than talking – more control – and social networking can look like ‘efficient intimacy’ – but there’s no such thing.  The few close relatives and friends I have in my life are hard earned – we move together through trust and gratitude – hurt and forgiveness – exploring what love means.  If I thought that digital technology could help with these issues – I too would have a mobile phone. 

Govt. in England announced this week that it will phase out all funding to its 15 Third Sector strategic partners – including the Social Enterprise Coalition (SEC), Social firms UK, DTA etc.  Peter Holbrook, who leads SEC, has indicated that they will set stronger foundations for the future by finding partners in the business world.  If Westminster gets its way – both the NHS and the Third Sector in England will move closer to big business – like in the USA. There would be resistance in Scotland to this direction of travel.

Since our launch in 1999 – the culture of Senscot has been greatly influenced by the philosophy of the Open Source software movement – a collaborative way of working, where information and support are shared freely.  Like Geof Cox in this piece – we believe that the generosity of Open Source is the right model for the social enterprise community.  See,

Senscot’s annual appeal for donations is about half way there (see 2011 list). Quite apart from the money your indications of support are much appreciated.

Last week we mentioned how Community Housing Associations are uniquely placed to use contracts to incubate local social enterprises; we gave the example of the Aspire Foundation in England.  Craig Sanderson (CEO of the Link Group) reminds us of successful Scottish examples – notably at Dalmuir with the Concierge Service (now known as Social Enterprise Clydebank). Unfortunately the Wider Role funding, intended for such initiatives, has dried up.

There is a ‘London-centric’ – social enterprise ‘blog-sphere’ – which I don’t visit much – too many contributors in the thrall of big business.  But all around the UK there are extraordinary social entrepreneurs, who believe there is a different and better way to run the world.  Senscot is a fan of the work of Nigel Lowthrop at Hill Holt Wood – who will be in Scotland on Feb 23rd – to deliver the 7th Stewardship lecture at Falkland.  I’ve got my ticket.

I’m an enthusiastic subscriber to Scottish Review – the online journal edited by Kenneth Roy.  I enjoyed this recent essay by Alison Prince (a writer from Arran) called ‘If not God – then What?’  Using her personal journey, she reflects on what we, as a nation, believe in – if anything.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Engender, Lendrick Lodge, Church House, Bridgeton (Glasgow), Parent Action for Safe Play, Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition, Carr-Gomm Scotland, Cornerstone
EVENTS: Cash Flow Planning workshop, 8 Feb; Highlands & Islands Celebration Event, 11 Feb; Climate Change Effective Communication, 17 Feb; 1 Day Deaf Awareness Course, 25 Feb;
TENDERS: Supply of Electrical Equipment and Consumables; Rural Grass Cutting & Weed Control Service; Screening, Crushing & Recycling of Inert Material; Property Security Service Term Contract

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Last week saw the launch of Networks 1st new website – –  and we’ve already received a fair bit of positive feedback so far. The Intra-Trading section, in particular, has already generated a lot of interest – where SEN members buy services/products from other SEN members. Requests to date include – development of websites; production of leaflets and posters; legal services (property purchase, negotiating SLAs); and marketing services. If you want to register, go to
For more Networks News, see

Some more events to note in your diary.  Scotland’s largest social enterprise event, S2S, takes place on 20th April, once again at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh. See programme and booking details, Also, in Fife, BRAG are hosting the Fife Social Enterprise Trade Fair – Opportunities to Grow – at Keavil House Hotel, near Dunfermline. See, . Back to the Coalition – they have recently appointed their new Parliamentary, Policy and Communications officer – Duncan Thorpe. Here’s the press release,

A few weeks back, we mentioned Forth Sector’s plan to launch an exciting employment and training hub in new premises in Craigmillar. The good news keeps coming. This week, we hear they have reached an agreement that will secure the future of the St Jude’s Laundry in the city. This move will guarantee the continued employment of 30 disabled employees at St Jude’s as well as generate vital future investment.
See press release,

Have you heard of `crowdfunding` – raising money/investment from groups of ordinary people?  At the recent Senscot Ceilidh, we asked the audience at the Dragon’s Den session, to make a contribution to the prize money; we expected around £200 – got £800.  Here’s an article about the new rash of crowd funding initiatives – some of them look a bit dodgy to me.  Be careful out there,

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise café on Edinburgh’s South Bridge. Captain Taylor’s Coffee House, run by the charity Streetwork, officially opened this week. The café will provide a training & employment scheme with all profits from this commercial venture being directed back into the work Streetwork does with disadvantaged and homeless people in Edinburgh. The name, Captain Taylor’s, is in acknowledgement of Captain Charles Taylor who bequeathed his entire fortune to assist and care for those in greatest need in the city. For more, see

On the 20th January, author Philip Pullman made a speech in defence of the public library service.  It’s either an eloquent critique or a bit of a rant, depending on your politics – apparently the speech is an internet hit across Europe. 

“Like all fundamentalists who get their clammy hands on the levers of political power, the market fanatics are going to kill off every humane, life-enhancing, generous, imaginative and decent corner of our public life…  I love the public library service for what it did for me as a child and as a student and as an adult.  I love it because its presence in a town or a city reminds us that there are things above profit, things that profit knows nothing about, things that have the power to baffle the greedy ghost of market fundamentalism, things that stand for civic decency and public respect for imagination and knowledge and the value of simple delight…  Leave the libraries alone – you don’t know the value of what you’re looking after.  It is too precious to destroy.”

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


Subscribe to this bulletin:

To unsubscribe or change subscription address/ e-mail