Senscot Bulletin: 05.07.13

Dear members and friends,

 The path my life took – determined that I’ve been around the start-up of many social organisations – each was birthed with passion – to challenge some social injustice – some were even successful; but there’s one recurring problem I never solved: how to grow an organisation – whilst holding it true to its radical origins.
 Could Keir Hardie – and those other legends who founded the Labour Party – ever have imagined that it would become the preserve of ‘Oxbridge’ types – on their way to becoming millionaires. Another of my life models is Francis of Assisi; so joyous was his life of service to the poor, that he attracted thousands of followers – the fastest grown religious order in church history.  But, by the time he died in 1226, the pen-pushers had taken over and different factions vied for control of the Franciscans.
 I recall a phrase from some forgotten Hollywood ‘epic’; it was set in the first century AD – when new born Christianity was sweeping the known world.  A wily old politician counsels the senate to: ‘Just wait – the Christian on horseback will not be the force of these ones on foot’.  Human history tells us the old cynic was right – as an enterprise spreads – its spirit wanes; this seems to be inevitable.  But the spirit of Keir Hardie and Francis lives on – as will that of Nelson Mandela – and others: spirits which pass the flame to the next carriers of the light. I become more aware of how inter-connected everything is.

I receive weekly emails from ‘Capita Conferences’ – detailed accounts of the private sector’s progressive displacement of the public and third sectors; (I think of Attila the Hun’s conquering hordes). This explicit UK Govt policy – to privatise public services – fails to take account of the value of values. The private and third sectors exist for very different reasons – the former to make money for shareholders – the latter to express society’s concern for the needy. Services, designed and delivered by local people – in a spirit of solidarity with their own community – are simply better; values add value. The Third Sector Research Centre, a consortium of academics in England, seeks to provide robust evidence of this.  Here’s a summary of its latest report – exploring the future of our sector. See,

I liked Gerry Hassan’s short piece in this week’s New Statesman – which points out, correctly in my opinion, that whatever the outcome of the Referendum next year – Scotland will change utterly. Our public life increasingly resembles an embryonic state rather that the ‘stateless nation’ of old. Talk of Scottish independence is becoming a way of expressing optimism for a different kind of politics; that change of mentality is likely to stay with us. See,

You’ll probably be aware that the UK Govt is well on the way to creating an Online Identity Scheme (ostensibly to access public services). It is intended to outsource the scheme to the private sector – but a new survey (by Unisys) has found widespread unease with this. UK citizens balloted, overwhelmingly want the Govt to be the keepers of our online identity. Only 9% said they would trust the private sector with this role.

The late John Pearce wrote ‘Social Enterprise in Anytown’ in 2003 (reprinted in 2005 and 2009). It remains the most definitive UK work on social enterprise – it would be good to get it updated. I was reminded of this when I read this week about the UK’s first ‘Social Enterprise Town’. Apparently, Alston Moor in Cumbria has one SE for every 55 households; how inspiring is that. Got me wondering which town in Scotland has the most social local economy. See,

Regular readers will know that I admire the writing of Fifer, John Burnside – poems and stories. Although he seems to have a blind spot around community empowerment – I enjoy his passion about the natural world and the environment. This recent piece in the Scotsman (tweeted by Andy Wightman) shows him to also be a doughty land reformer. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Fife Employment Access Trust, West Lothian Social Enterprise Network, Edinburgh University Students’ Association, Loganlea Miners Welfare Charitable Society, Kirknewton Community Dev. Trust
EVENTS: Edinburgh Canal Festival & Raft Race, 6 Jul; Portobello Market, 6 Jul; Wiff Waff Wednesday, 17 Jul; Out of the Blue Flea Market, 27 Jul; Social Capital World Forum 13, 4 Sep;
TENDERS: Eday Community Enterprises Ltd Feasibility Study and Provision of Concession contract for Waste Management & Recycling Services. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: The Supporting Social Enterprise (SSE) Alliance has submitted a response to Scottish Govt’s consultation on the future of EU Structural Funds in Scotland. Support for social enterprise and the social economy is identified as an investment priority for the Funds in the period 2014-20. Our joint response stresses the importance of a Scottish Partnership Agreement that reflects ‘greater commitment to social investment; social inclusion and innovation and, in doing so, create a supportive environment for the development and growth of social enterprise, the social economy and community-led local development’. To read the full consultation response, see  For more Networks News, see

Senscot is an enthusiastic supporter of the Development Trust movement – hundreds of communities self-organising to improve local facilities/services/opportunities; template for the missing tier of democracy.  Three jobs this week for fellow enthusiasts for localism – including CEO of Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust.  See,

Construction of Scotland’s first community-run hydro-electric energy plant will get under way in the coming months – as a result of crowd-funding scheme run the Balerno Village Trust. Harlaw Hydro has now raised over £300k – in just 12 weeks. Such has been the success of this model that similar schemes in Mull and the Isle of Skye are now in development. Harlaw Hydro will power over 60 homes. See,

The Ready for Business partnership has circulated its latest newsletter this week – including news, forthcoming events and some new case studies from the ‘Developing Markets’ programme. See, 

The Saltire Foundation seeks to find and support the next generation of Scottish business leaders. The first social enterprise leader to be offered a place on its Fellowship programme is Lisa Maclean, Executive Director of INSP- International Network of Street Papers. Lisa will be receiving a grant from Saltire but needs another £8k to allow her to explore this new facet of social enterprise development in Scotland and is keen to work in partnership with members of our SE community. If it something you would like to explore, contact Lisa at

This week’s bulletin profiles Health SEN member, Annexe Communities – a community enterprise with over 12 years’ experience of delivering highly successful health and wellbeing initiatives to the socially disadvantaged in west central Glasgow. Beginning life as the Partick Community Association it took the name Annexe Communities (AC) in 2010 to reflect the wider spread of its services. It is currently working through a business plan (2011-14) that will see it develop as a social enterprise. Currently, AC generates 75% of its core costs from its own resources – with the balance being subsided for three years by an independent charitable trust. For more, see

‘We Evolve’ by Charles Bukowski

"At first it seems like sex is the big thing, then after that….social consciousness, then intellectual accomplishment, and then after that some fall into religion, others into the arts. After that begins the gathering of money and after the gathering of money the stage when we pretend that money doesn’t matter. Then it’s health and hobbies, travel, and finally just sitting around thinking vaguely of vague things, rooting in gardens, hating flies, noise, bad weather, snails, rudeness, the unexpected, new neighbours, old friends, drunks, smoking, sex, singing, dancing, upstarts, the postman and weeds. It gives one the fidgets: waiting on death."

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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