Senscot Bulletin: 05-10-2007

Dear members and friends,

I’ve written this column for 7 years – other than Xmas breaks, never missed a week. Ideas come fairly easily and having a personal soap box is pretty cool – but something`s gone wrong. Recently, when I dip my bowl  into the ideas pool – it comes up empty – as though I’ve dried up. Maybe it’s just our failed summer – the return of darkness – I’m sleeping badly – my head’s not right.
Last Friday on the train from Glasgow I suddenly feel that my head may explode and splatter the window – have to escape! Train stops – jump off – don’t care where I am. Outside the noise amplifies – the monster engine – rushing people – screeching tannoy – panic attack – steady myself on a fence. Train roars off – platform empties – sit on a wall in silence – small patch of sunlight – control returns. Young woman asks if I’m ok. ‘Thank you – just a wobble.’ Madness is closer – more ordinary – than some folk realise. ‘The terror and the beauty of our plain lives.’
Found this poem by Raymond Carver – this is the whole of it: ‘Just when he had given up thinking he’d ever write another line of poetry, she began brushing her hair and singing that Irish folk song he liked so much. The one about Napoleon and the bonnie bunch of roses, oh’.

You may be aware that the Big Lottery in Scotland (BIG) has a £20 million pot called Dynamic Inclusive Communities (DiNC). Over a year ago, BIG invited SCVO to apply for half of DiNC (£10m) to revitalise Scotland’s Voluntary Sector including the Councils of Voluntary Service (CVS) of which there are currently 55 – of varying confidence and competence. When BIG`s new Scotland committee took office in March, it asked SCVO to strengthen the bid and Avante Consulting were commissioned to do a report analysing the needs of the sector. Avante`s commendably honest report makes it clear that SCVO`s relationship with the CVS network has been a bumpy ride and details of the final bid are still being worked out. Time will tell whither the CVS network is minded to be `modernised` – and whither SCVO is best suited to manage this process. Senscot understands that BIG will decide on the funding on 17th October.

In the context of a potential £10m investment in the CVS network, it is quite understandable that BIG, and the Scottish Government, would welcome an overview of how this would sit alongside all other intermediaries which offer support to the Third Sector. The Avante report takes up the call for such an overarching vision and proposes a high level mechanism which it calls `the Change Task Group`. This raises important questions for Senscot and our members: Is there an assumption that social enterprise is part of the constituency being supported by this bid – that our funding will be considered in relation to the CVS network. If so, what happened to the `differentiated` social enterprise strategy and who`s on this `Change Task Group`? If there`s no such assumption, then how will social enterprises and their support agencies access funds from the Big Lottery? Are we really going to have another year’s discussion about support to the Third Sector. 

From Martin Bright – New Statesman 19th September. ‘The most depressing email I received was a press release with the headline ‘Expert partnership on empowerment committed to support government participation agenda’. The document continues: ‘A body of experts in empowerment has developed a partnership to support the government’s mission to increase levels of participation at local, regional and national levels. The National Empowerment Partnership (NEP) . . . aims to improve the quality, co-ordination and evidence of empowerment across England.’ The initiative was announced this month by the Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, and given the government’s backing.  On this evidence, the government is even trying to centralise the debate over participation. This is not a little sinister.’
Who owns `community empowerment` in Scotland? Watch this space next week.

The board members of OSCR have decided that they want to be paid – which I think is a big mistake. The authority of our sector derives from the fact that our boards are voluntary – most Senscot readers sit on such boards – it is not fitting that we should be presided over by a paid board. As usual Stephen Maxwell gets to the heart of the matter.

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: 24 vacancies, incl. posts with: Community Enterprise, Social Enterprise Academy, Assist Social Capital, Edinburgh Cyrenians
EVENTS: 18 events, incl Encouraging Social Enterprise: Co-operative Education Trust Scotland, 1st Nov, Perth;  Social Capital & Financial Inclusion’ International Conference, 9th Nov, Edinburgh; Ethnic Minority Social Enterprise Showcasing Conference, 26th Nov, Edinburgh

Alison Horsley (our Office Manager) sadly will be leaving us next Friday. Alison has been with Senscot for 3 years and is now moving on to take up the post of PA to the Chief Executive of a national Interior Design company. She has been a great asset to Senscot during her time with us – not least in organising the Ceilidhs. We`re now on the lookout for her replacement.

First Port is holding its official launch in the Melting Pot next week (11th Oct) – John Swinney will do the honours. First Port emerged from a joint venture between Scotland unLtd and Senscot – its mission is to support emerging social entrepreneurs – the new generation of social enterprise. The Chair, Barry Ayre and Executive Director, Naomi Johnson share a bold vision. You are assured of Senscot`s support. Their new initiative called `Ideas into Action` might be for you. See

Jackie Scutt, founding CEO of Scotland’s Social Enterprise Academy, has decided to step back from this role – in favour of a less demanding one. Jackie can take great satisfaction from having taken SEA to its present position of influence in the growth of our sector. Senscot wishes her luck with her new adventures.

I attended Senscot`s inaugural `intrapreneurs` event yesterday (Thursday). Aidan and the team are well pleased with a promising start. It was the right number – 24 of us sat in a circle – folk felt able to participate.
My impression is that there will prove to be an appetite for some kind of support network for innovators in public services. This bulletin will circulate a note and convene the next meeting.

This week’s bulletin revisits an enterprise profiled a few years back but has gone through considerable change recently. Wiston Lodge in South Lanarkshire has just undergone a staff/management buyout from the YMCA. In doing so, they have managed to secure the continued wide range of work with young people, music and art, environmental and adult groups for the future. They are holding an open day on 24th October,  to raise the profile of their Youth Development Centre and to lay out their plans for the future.

Another wee beauty from Raymond Carver called An Afternoon. ‘As he writes, without looking at the sea, he feels the tip of his pen begin to tremble. The tide is going out across the shingle. But it isn’t that. No, it’s because at that moment she chooses to walk into the room without any clothes on. Drowsy, not even sure where she is for a moment. She waves the hair from her forehead. Sits on the toilet with her eyes closed, head down. Legs sprawled. He sees her through the doorway. Maybe she’s remembering what happened that morning. For after a time, she opens one eye and looks at him. And sweetly smiles.’

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes.

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