Senscot Bulletin: 05-04-2007

Dear members and friends,

Bulletin a day early for the Easter holiday – writing this in the garden – sunshine at last. Goldfinches squabbling around the thistle seed – a pheasant waits underneath for scraps – woodsmoke – birdsong – peace. Rab the postie stops for a chat – his unfailing good humour. US Masters is on BBC this weekend. I’ll have a bet and strut the fairways of Augusta with the gladiators. Good times. Good times.
 This week I attended my first Green Party meeting which was all I hoped it would be. Party politics was spoilt for me by the factional venom of the Edinburgh Labour Party at the height of its power. This was entirely different. Quiet conviction – generosity – optimism. I’m not a ‘joiner’, but this felt good. I believe the Green movement will spread quickly now – a tipping point. Good people are looking for something to believe in beyond material advancement. Very affirming being with positive folk. Good decision.
 Confronted twice this week with symptoms of personal decline. Good friend says I’m starting to stoop. Means well – lends me book on exercises. Then my cousin (doubtful motive) says that my hair is much more grey – that I should dye it. I’m going to try to stand tall – but not interested in dyeing my hair – tacky. Anyway my pulling days are over.

Senscot’s vision is of a “socially just Scotland where social enterprise is an integral part of everyday life” – that’s what we work towards. In the Scottish government’s 2003 ‘Review of the Social Economy’ the term ‘social enterprise’ is not used – we know because we lobbied, in vain, for its inclusion. The Publication last week of a bespoke Social Enterprise Strategy is a significant advance, but one that we need to keep in context. Recent research indicates that only 1 in 4 UK citizens know what a social enterprise is, let alone use one. Our new strategy allocates £170K for an awareness-raising campaign – probably less than one week’s advertising budget for some of the Executive’s real priorities. Churchill’s words come to mind: “This is not the end – it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Executive Summary of the strategy here:

Social Enterprise as a differentiated sub-sector is gaining acceptance in the mainstream voluntary sector. This editorial in the current TFN (a tad condescending) indicates a thawing of the ice. The Public Sector procurement process is also starting to acknowledge the added value of social businesses (see piece below on Strategic Waste Fund). Where awareness of what we do is painfully low is in the Private Sector as was illustrated in the recent Dragon’s Den on BBC 2 where the idea that a business should have social aims was treated with derision. Ashish Poddar, an ex-city lawyer, who now runs the social enterprise ‘Freshties’, makes the point well.

It’s over seven years since I started attending meetings about the wave of venture philanthropy from the private sector which we were told would transform the world of social enterprise – It has been ‘much ado about nothing’. In England, the Futurebuilders, Adventure Capital and other investment funds have been extended and expanded but Scotland got one wee pop at Futurebuilders and all has gone silent. We understand that EKOS carried out an interim evaluation of Futurebuilders Scotland but we can’t circulate a copy ‘cos it’s somewhere in the long grass. The new SE Strategy clearly identifies lack of investment finance as one of the main barriers to growth and the months ahead should see the emergence of a strategic investment plan. We understand that Prof. Alan McGregor’s TERU is conducting an evaluation of Social Investment Scotland (SIS).

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 

JOBS: 31 vacancies, incl. posts with: Glasgow Furniture Initiative, YWCA Glasgow, North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, Theatre Nemo, Snowsport Scotland, DTA Scotland.

EVENTS: 10 events, incl. Developing Community Assets, Glasgow, 19 April; Doing What You Do – Only Better: using the arts to help in evaluation process, Coalsnaughton, 27 April; Growing with Compost Training Event, CRNS & CCN, Edinburgh, 1 May, CRNS More than Composting Conf., Edinburgh 2 May, SURF Small Town regeneration seminar, Edinburgh, 15 May.

Spring edition of Good Company is now available. To see this edition’s contents, see To subscribe, go to

The ‘Rough Guide’, a diagnostic tool for assessing your skills by scoring them against 25 questions, is now available from the Social Enterprise Academy. Download free here:

Big supermarkets undermine social capital and local trust, according to a new study by American economists. Called ‘Wal-Mart and social capital’ the study found that the negative impact came partly from the destruction of local businesses. “When they disappear, the social capital they embody is destroyed and their entrepreneurial skills and other forms of location-specific human capital are forever lost to the community.”

Feat Enterprise’s trading arm ‘SpringBack’ has just secured a 12 month contract with the City of Edinburgh Council to divert mattresses from landfill. Under this arrangement approximately 15,600 mattresses a year will be taken from the Council’s waste transfer station at Powderhall, resulting in an additional 360 tonnes of waste recycled during the 12 month period This agreement is part of the Scottish Executive’s Strategic Waste Fund (SWF 150) where additional sums of money have been set aside for Councils on the condition that they partner local recycling organisations/social enterprises. The SWF 150 is the result of the ongoing dialogue between CRNS and the Executive. For more info’, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow Community Radio Station that has recently launched a 16 hour per day FM broadcast service for the local community. Sunny Govan FM (103.5 FM) is providing a range of services and opportunities for the local community that include training, education and entertainment. It has been set up to be financially independent and to be genuinely representative of the Govan community and other local communities of interest. They are currently looking for volunteers for Community Radio Journalists, Community Radio Presenters, local musicians and artists. For more info’, see

Reading again the journals of John Cheever. Don’t know anyone who wrote with such honesty about alcoholism – about the things closest to pain and despair, about the search for self, happiness. Here’s an entry from 1961:
 “Hemingway shot himself yesterday morning. There was a great man. I remember walking down a street in Boston after reading a book of his, and finding the colour of the sky, the faces of strangers, and the smells of the city heightened and dramatized. He put down an immense vision of love and friendship, swallows and the sound of rain. There was never, in my time, anyone to compare with him.”
 “He put down an immense vision of love and friendship” – what a marvellous legacy.

That’s all for this week. Have a great Easter break – a time of new beginnings.

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available See: