Senscot Bulletin: 06.05.11

Dear members and friends,

On May 16th, a new ‘Italian Cloister Garden’ will open in the grounds of St Andrews Catholic Cathedral, Glasgow.  It will incorporate a memorial, with the names of all the Scottish Italians who died, on their way to internment, when the Arandora Star was sunk in 1940; my grandfather, Lorenzo Demarco, was among them.  In spite of my ancestry (100% Italian), I wrote on my census form recently, that I feel firstly Scottish – then British – then Italian.  I wonder if this is what my grandfather intended.
 In December 1992 (the Tories had just won their 4th successive UK election), there was a demonstration ‘For Scottish Democracy’ in Edinburgh – the size of the gathering in the Meadows (around 30 thousand) surprised everyone.  The most memorable speech was made by novelist William Mcllvanney – recounted by another Scottish writer Neal Ascherson. “And then in a tone of tremendous pride, he said this.  ‘Scottishness is not some pedigree lineage.  This is a mongrel tradition!’  At those words, for reasons which perhaps neither he nor they ever quite understood, the crowd broke into cheers and applause which lasted on and on”.
 Mcllvanney’s proclamation of ‘Scotland the mongrel’ – and the joy those words released – affirmed my identity as a Scot.  When I visit the new garden of remembrance in Glasgow – I will honour the memory of Lorenzo Demarco – a hill farmer – on meagre, exhausted land – who uprooted his family – to a cold northern country – with warm people. (Ascherson’s account of McIlvanney’s speech).

At 11am on Friday morning – ‘list’ votes are still being counted across Scotland – but Alex Salmond’s term ‘watershed’ doesn’t seem an exaggeration; this is an historic shift in our political landscape.  The Nationalist mandate is emphatic enough to justify a radical programme; are they bold enough?  They’ve got to keep their feet on the ground – but this is a time for courage.  Devolution gave the Scottish people a taste of self determination – clearly we like it.  In the words of the old song – “How they gonna keep us down on the farm – now that we’ve seen Paree.” 

Documents leaked to the BBC, suggest that the UK Govt has decided the `wholesale outsourcing` of public services to the private sector would be `politically unpalatable`. Ministers instead want to use more charities, social enterprises and employee-owned mutuals. The private sector is encouraged to get alongside third sector suppliers. The tone of this leaked document sets all my alarm bells ringing. It doesn’t bother pretending; this is the bare-faced co-option of the third sector into making privatisation more palatable. I think I have been naïve about the true intent of `Big Society`. Good piece by James Landale of BBC News,

For an organisation to qualify as a charity – there cannot be restrictive conditions on accessing the benefits that the charity provides. For this reason, OSCR has placed independent schools on its list of charities considered at high risk of failing to provide a public benefit. The Scottish Council of Independent Schools has asked the regulator that they be removed from this list. On balance, I’m against private schools – which parade their exclusivity – qualifying for the fiscal benefits of charitable status. See,

Oliver Letwin confirmed in the Commons this week that the UK Big Society Bank (BSB) will not be seeking commercial returns on investments; `modest financial returns – high social returns`. BSB is to be a `wholesale` investment bank – channelling money to `retail` third sector lenders like Social Investment Scotland (SIS). There won’t be a `Scottish allocation` – but the `Merlin` money will be at least £200m – 10% of that would be £20m – it all helps. See,

A Consortium of investors, including churches and charities, is set to use its influence as shareholders to pressure the UK`s largest companies to pay the `living wage` to all their staff. The consortium will join the `Just Pay` campaign – which seeks to help the 3.5 million workers in the UK earning less than £7 an hour. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, Faith in Community Scotland, Social Investment Scotland, The Scottish Community Safety Network, Woodlands Community Development Trust, See Me
EVENTS: Employment Law: The basics, 11 May, Using creative approaches to evaluate your project, 12 May, Girl – A Community Project, 12 May; ‘How to’ Raise Money from, 25 May
TENDERS: Provision of an Integrated Waste Management ICT Solution, Glow Futures, UK-Glasgow: Repair and maintenance services, APFM00166 New Skate Park at Kings Park, Stirling,

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Look out for an upsurge in activity around the Cultural SEN over the coming months. Things have been quiet of late but, following discussions with Creative Scotland, we are looking to develop a programme of events focussing on social enterprise in the cultural sector for the coming year. If you are a cultural social enterprise or a cultural organisation looking to develop a more enterprising approach, contact .We also have news of another emerging SEN – the Canal SEN. A number of social enterprises working on or around the Lowland Canals have now met twice. Attendees have included Twechar, Re-Union, Unity Enterprise and Lambshill amongst others. For more, contact For more Networks News, see

Bulletin reader, Susan Scott (PLUS Perth and Kinross) is part of a working group looking at ideas for surplus land and buildings NHS Tayside is making available within the redevelopment of Murray Royal Hospital in Perth. They group has been considering suggestions along the lines of locally grown food, social businesses, budget accommodation, a historical museum, weddings and ceremonies etc. Any info, advice, ideas etc would be very welcome. See more,

Fancy helping a new social firm get off the ground in Canada? Assist Social Capital’s Robyn Brophy heads home (Toronto) this summer with the intention of starting up The Nest Bakery. Robyn`s compiled a video laying out her plans. Your votes could help her win $25k start-up funds. See,

The Social Innovation Camp returns to Scotland in June. In advance, the Melting Pot is hosting an ideas workshop on Monday 16 May from 6pm to 8pm. The evening will discuss how to use technology to tackle social problems with a particular interest in ideas which use technology to combat social isolation.
See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise established by North Glasgow Housing Association. Ng2 was set up six months ago with a view to recruiting local people, develop their skills through a range of industry specific training and provide much sought after employment in the area. The services being provided include bulk uplift, void property clearance, close and stair cleaning, close lighting repairs and environmental improvement works. For more, see

Gary Younge wrote this in the Guardian on Wednesday. “Given the nature of the 9/11 attacks, a popular desire for vengeance in the US is a perfectly understandable and legitimate emotional response. It is not, however, a foreign policy……..Vengeance is, in no small part, what got us here. It won’t get us out.”
It is fitting to recall the words of the great African American leader, Martin Luther King Jr.
 “I do not want to give the impression that non-violence will work miracles overnight.  People are not easily moved from their mental ruts or purged of their prejudice and irrational feelings.  When the underprivileged demand freedom, the privileged first react with bitterness and resistance.  Even when the demands are couched in non-violent terms, the initial response is the same.  So the non-violent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor.  It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it.  It gives them a new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had.  Finally, it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality.”

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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