Senscot Bulletin: 04.11.11

Dear members and friends,

            The Spaniards have the best name for their anti-capitalist demonstrators – Los Indignados (The Indignants?). Its three years now since the banks gambled away all our money – politicians have shown themselves unwilling, or unable, to introduce systemic change – or even to moderate corporate greed. Ordinary people are struggling – many are frightened – and increasingly we’re going to see public expressions of indignation. The good people camped outside St Pauls this week appear a motley crew – yet their anger is heartfelt – and I’m with them in spirit. Our politicians are clearly afraid of the money spivs – with their global reach – but they’re even more afraid of indignant voters – and I hope this protest gathers momentum.

            Adair Turner – chair of the Financial Services Agency – famously said “much of what the city gets up to is socially useless”. Some of us think its worse – a rigged system, serving a privileged elite – at the expense of the rest of us. In spite of the mystique which Financial Services has built around itself – there is no reason why the whole sector should not be mutualised – that is owned and regulated by us. Branches of our People’s Bank would act as local anchor organisations – our savings deep in the engine room of the economy – enabling profitable businesses to expand. Folk tell me that this is Utopian – will never happen. It was our much loved Scottish sage Alasdair Gray who said “Work as though you lived in the early days of a better nation”. Viva Los Indignados.

During my career, Scotland has not been very good at Regeneration – The Tories favoured the private sector – Labour preferred Local Govt; both treated the local community as peripheral. Almost in spite of Govt – over the past forty years – the community owned housing association movement has quietly flourished. If, as now seems likely, Govt policy switches to community led Regeneration – there is a legacy of 70 plus mature Associations in place – with the potential to step up to the mark as stable anchor organisations. I believe there is a book waiting to be written about the evolution of this movement – and featuring the remarkable community leadership which it has inspired. Folk like John Butterly (Reidvale, 26 years); Fr Lynch (Cunningham, 12 years); Betty Stevenson (Govanhill, 25 years); Bill Kirkhope (Clydesdale,16 years) – many, many more. The new Scottish Housing Regulator’s proposal to tamper with the voluntary status of board members – and to limit their period of office is intrusive; it dishonours the memory of the pioneers of this movement – and it should be resisted.

I have the sense that the hype around social impact bonds (SIBs) is quietening – folk are realising that its not the magic bullet they’re looking for. Here’s a feature in Third Sector Mag – with Toby Eccles promoting the model – myself questioning it News this week that Triodos Bank is to raise a social impact bond of £1m to fund the work of Bristol Together (employing ex offenders in building trades). It’s not clear if the SIB will pay dividends – the ‘payment by result’ kind.


News from Firstport: After five years with Firstport, Naomi Johnson will be leaving her post as Executive Director at the end of November. During this time, Naomi has played a pivotal role in supporting start up social enterprises in Scotland, attracting over £1.4m in funds for new start social entrepreneurs. More recently, Firstport has also secured a place within the Just Enterprise consortium. Naomi says:" After 5 years at Firstport – and the reflection this milestone brings –  I have decided that it’s time to do something new and take the jump off the cliff we encourage our entrepreneurs to take!" We wish Naomi every success in the future. See full Firstport statement,


Should Scotland’s social enterprise community adopt a ‘Voluntary code of Practice’ – a statement of the values and behaviours by which we define ourselves. Personally I believe we should – but only after the fullest discussions. Such debate is not everyone’s cup of tea – but if you feel motivated to participate – let Aidan know ( On Friday 25th Nov, we’ll host a discussion in Glasgow; a small group – to work on the detail of the Code. See,


I find myself increasingly visiting the website of Bella Caledonia – good articles from the counter culture; here is a list of main contributors – some voices more radical than mine – but good energy here. ( Bella also posted the best review I’ve seen of last weeks ‘Kandinsky in Govan’ event.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Carnwadric Church, Glasgow Disability Alliance, Liber8 (Lanarkshire) Ltd, Equality Network, Scottish Parliament, Social Enterprise Academy, Equal Futures, Volunteer Centre East Dunbartonshire, PlanB Money & Debt Advice Support Services
EVENTS: Introductory and Practitioner Training, 10 Nov; Crafting the Arts: Going for Gold Conference, 19 Nov; Adding Value: Creativity Applied, 21 Nov; WinterLight, 3 Dec; Consensus Decision Making, 26 Jan;
TENDERS: European Project Management Support – EU Project Oct 2011 – Sept. 2013, Staff Cycle to Work Scheme Administration, Sub-Contractor & Supplier Packages for 12 New Flats Dalchampaig, Pitlochry and Collection, Storage & Return of Furniture, Equipment & Goods.


NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Over recent months, the Health Roundtable has been participating in the Govt’s ‘Review of engagement between Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates and the third sector’. One outcome has been the submission of an agreed paper with recommendations which is now going forward to the Quality Alliance Board. If these recommendations are adopted, it could significantly increase the opportunities for social enterprises to contribute to the delivery of services in the health and social care field. On the same theme, here’s an article in the recent NHS Scotland publication – ‘All in Good Health’ – on NHS Scotland’s commitment to sustainable procurement. You’ll recognise one of the key contributors. See,
For more Networks News, see


Phillip Blond – the radical political thinker – was in Scotland last week; up for the Senior Officers in Housing annual event – hosted by the bold Foster Evans of EVH. Blond wants to reduce the grip on society of both the state (Labour) and the market (Tory). He wants to strengthen local communities and economies – to empower and mobilise citizens. Here are the slides of his presentation – it`s 2.4MB,


Good opportunity for a social enterprise with retail experience. Alloa Community Enterprise (ACE) is looking for a social enterprise partner to run its new venture, the Hub –  a retail outlet, selling second hand household items including furniture, white goods, clothing, books, DVDs, games etc. The venture will be a partnership between ACE, Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface and the successful applicant. The selection process gets underway at a ticket only event on 22nd November. See details,


This week’s bulletin profiles Food for Thought Community Café in Broxburn – a social enterprise with a difference. Food for Thought is run by Primary 6 and 7 pupils at St. Nicholas Primary in Broxburn. The café is run by the pupils for the school community, the elderly and other community groups, with profits from the cafe will be used to support local groups as well as St Nicholas’ sister school in Ghana. St Nicholas’ is one of over 40 schools across Scotland involved in the Social Enterprise Academy’s ‘social enterprise in schools’ initiative. See,


For social and community workers etc – who explicitly set out to ‘help’ people (a power relationship) – it is important for us to develop a personal ‘why’ and ‘how’ for our work. In this recent article, Archbishop Rowan Williams discusses the nature of sustainable community. His concept of the ‘mutual creation of capacity’ is close to my own philosophy of community work.


            “For someone like myself, there is an ironic satisfaction in the way several political thinkers today are quarrying theological traditions for ways forward. True, religious perspectives or these issues have often got bogged down in varieties of paternalism. But there is another theological strand to be retrieved that is not about ‘the poor’ as objects of kindness but about the nature of sustainable community – seeing it as one in which what circulates – like the flow of blood is the mutual creation of capacity – building the ability of the other person or group to become, in turn, a giver of life and responsibility.” See full article,


That’s all for this week.


Good luck with your adventures


Best wishes,




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