Senscot Bulletin: 06.08.10

Dear members and friends,

 In the Spectator this week, columnist Aidan Hartley, writes about his cousin Charlie – how his parachute failed when he jumped out of a Cessna at 4,000 ft.  He hits a corrugated iron roof – bounces off a wall – lands face down – miraculously only dislocates a finger.  Hartley tells that in the 40 seconds before he hit the ground, Charlie went into a state of calm, reflecting that he had “No regrets, I’ve had a lot of luck in my life – and there’s no point in worrying.”  Hard to believe.
 As a schoolboy – unable to swim – I was paddling too deep in the sea at North Berwick – lost my footing and went under.  For what seemed ages, I fought for breath – for life – but as I lost consciousness, terror was replaced by an overwhelming peace and acceptance – there’s nothing to fear.  I woke up on the beach – dragged ashore by a stranger who happened by.  All my life I’ve drawn comfort from the serenity of that `near death` experience – so although I can’t explain – I believe Charlie’s story.
 On a recent trip to Spain – walking the shoreline – I spot a wee boy (about 3) – floating face down – too still.  A large Spanish family chatters nearby – but this child is drowning – so I shout and lift him.  A woman (the gran?) shrieks and snatches the boy – screams at her daughter – who screams at her husband – then everyone joins in.  I resume my stroll with a new thought – did I ‘happen by’, or are our lives shaped by a ‘destiny’.  But that’s a big one, isn’t it.

Third sector commentators have started referring to March 2011 as ‘The Cliff’ – because that’s when the present 3 year public spending round ends – and grants to community organisations are expected to be savaged.  David Cameron said this week in Birmingham “We should be asking, not what is the limit of what voluntary and community organisations, charities and social enterprises can do – but what is it they cannot do.”  Those who still doubt the seriousness of his purpose are deluding themselves – but there is clearly a reality gap.  In this excellent Guardian piece, Dai Powell, CEO of public transport business HCT, argues that come March, the ability of many communities to respond to the PM’s vision of Big Society – will fall off the ‘The Cliff’.

A social enterprise is a business which meets specific criteria – designed to ensure (amongst other things) that no-one can become personally wealthy from its operations. There is still a niggling lobby in the UK which wants to remove such restrictions – stemming mostly from the USA, where any restraint on individual wealth is considered communism. Let a thousand businesses prosper from the infinite mix of private and social motivations – but let’s not call them social enterprises. Another pressure to blur definitions comes from the current drive from Local and Central Govt to `externalise` public services whilst keeping control (Edinburgh Leisure awarded Social Enterprise Mark this week). Whitehall civil servants need to re-visit their definition and agree it across departments. My sense is that Govt Ministers also need a more inclusive, generic term – Social Business?

Scottish Govt this week provided more detail on arrangements for the new Third Sector Interfaces. They will have four core functions – volunteer development; supporting and developing a strong third sector; building third sector relationship with community planning; and social enterprise development. One of the elements (and requirements) of engagement will be participation in a new national Third Sector IT platform. Compulsory national databases always make me feel twitchy – who will own the data? – what’s it for? The social enterprise community can’t ignore this process but we need to consider carefully the implications of involvement. Govt would prefer the third sector to be a single voice – ‘on message’ with govt policy. But we’re not a single voice – if we believe social enterprise is distinctive then we have a responsibility to articulate this.  See Govt`s letter,

I applaud the Westminster govt’s determination to face up to some of the UK’s entrenched problems; if the Labour Party is to regain credibility, it’ll need to do more than moan about cuts.  But encouraging citizen volunteering alongside the reduction of services and benefits, will result in inevitable tensions.  These are well expressed in this letter from reader Eileen Stirling – one of the invisible army of activists which the Coalition now wants to call Big Society.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Penumbra, Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living, The Big Issue in Scotland, Firstport, Gorbals Healthy Living Network, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Stepping Stones for Families, Comas
EVENTS: The BIG KIC, 15 Aug; More Than Furniture, 24 Aug; Hatches, Matches and Dispatches, 25 Aug; Next steps for social enterprise in Scotland, 2 Sep; Youth Justice: Another Lost Generation? 28 Sep;
TENDERS: ITT for an Advertising Campaign – Dundee – One City, Many Discoveries; Ground Maintenance Contract; Window Cleaning Contract; Collection and Reprocessing of Dry Recyclables and Collection of Food Waste; Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment; Provision of Amenity Grass Cutting Services

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: There has been a considerable response to last week’s piece re the four SVA Learning events that are coming up. SENs have had a mixed experience of the Interface process to date. Some feel they have been kept at arms length, while others have been able to participate more fully. These will be important events for those SENs that wish to participate in their local Single Interface as they will begin to determine the money allocated to each of the four Interface functions – one of which is social enterprise development. It will be an opportunity to influence what level of support social enterprise will get at a local level. If you are keen to attend, see latest info and flyer from the Social Enterprise Academy,
If you’re finding it hard to access a place, let us know and we will lobby on your behalf.
For more Networks News,

It’s encouraging to see Glasgow Housing Association getting on with the job for which it was intended – the transfer of former Council housing stock to the direct control of residents.  As Scotland moves towards next May’s parliamentary elections – folk will inevitably ask ‘What did the SNP actually do?’  Well, they sorted out the GHA – a task which defeated the previous administration.

There’s nothing wrong with the British Urban Regeneration Awards – but it is to be celebrated that, in Scotland, we have our own ceremony of excellence hosted so enthusiastically each year by SURF. Closing date for nominations is 20th Sept. See, . We also hear that Scottish Government has signed a funding agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to establish a new £50 million fund to support urban regeneration in Scotland. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles Scotland’s newest social enterprise – Specialisterne Scotland. Based on a successful Danish model, Specialisterne has been developed by CEiS, the National Autism Society Scotland and Glasgow Autism Resource Centre and will use the positive characteristics of autism (i.e. insight, precision, regularity) to create good quality employment opportunities and provide IT services to businesses around the UK. CEiS is confident that Specialisterne Scotland (based in Glasgow) can create up to 50 quality jobs for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Senscot wishes this important new venture every success. See more,

This is a quote from Joanna Eede – writer, photographer and intrepid campaigner for the survival of Tribal Peoples round the world.  “A recent analysis of the original sources for all 1,031 drugs approved worldwide between 1981 and 2002 has concluded that none of these could be traced unequivocally to a totally synthetic source.  And of the 300-plus compounds currently in phase I, II & III clinical trials for cancer treatments, only one was a true discovery resulting from the laboratory alone.  In other words, the majority of medicines are still based on structures found in Nature, and Nature still provides the best chemical leads for biologically active compounds that have a medicinal value for humans.  If we can find a painkiller from Ecuadorian frogs that is 200 times as potent as morphine, if we can learn that there are anti-cancer properties in aquatic invertebrates, we can only guess at what other powerful natural panaceas lie within the tropical forests, in the depths of the ocean, or in the icy reaches of the Arctic.”

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

Best wishes,


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