Senscot Bulletin: 06.09.13

Dear members and friends,

I have a high regard for the poet Seamus Heaney – who died last Friday; his writing faces up to the worst – with courage and hope. It also shows how our personal lives are sustained by their consistencies – places, relationships, loyalties. Though, like myself, he drifted away from early Catholicism, he always said its symbolism retained a lasting resonance for him: "like well water deep down".
 March 2000 – I’m in Lisbon from some catch up with my old Marxist friend Colm. We arrange to meet in the Cathedral at 1pm – or a nearby restaurant at 2pm. The church has a pleasing side chapel where I sit for 20 minutes of stillness. At the restaurant, Colm says accusingly, "I saw you praying". I resent his manner – tell him: "Whatever I was doing is none of your business". He backs off and apologises – anger dissolves – by the end of lunch we’re the same old buddies. Over coffee he asks again (respectfully) if I was praying. "I don’t know what I was doing, Colm: it felt peaceful – almost homesick – do we have to give it a name?"
 Same afternoon we take the tram to see the Estadio Nacional – where Celtic won the European Cup in 1967. Colm is clearly moved – his manner is almost reverential. As he tells me in detail about the late winning goal – his eyes are tearful. That evening I ask him about this: "As a rational materialist – how would you describe your feelings for the ‘Hoops’?" He hesitates. "Do we have to give it a name."

We still have copies of ‘Kindness’ – Laurence’s latest selection of bulletin intros (2007-12). If you’d like a copy, see

Every year I try to attend the gathering of Development Trusts (DTAS Conference) – love the way it’s organised for front line folk – the foot soldiers – great buzz.  There are now over 200 trusts, 1800 board members, 4500 volunteers, 730 staff; around 60% of the £40million turnover is self-generated.  All around us we hear of dwindling resources – but the community sector runs on the energy and creativity of local people.  I would have thought it was a no brainer for Scottish Govt to co-ordinate a comprehensive community sector strategy; limitless renewable energy – waiting to be mobilised.  See attendees at DTAS event, 

Senscot has been saying for several years that the operation of Big Society Capital is not attuned to the needs of our third sector – but to the perspective of money markets.  A new report, commissioned by BSC and the English Lottery goes some way to confirm this.  For the first time, we see open acknowledgement of ‘tensions and confusion in terms of politics, perspective, culture, language and ideology’.  The UK Govt tells us it leads the world in social investment; but the reality is a real mess.  See,

A long term colleague of mine – who manages a social enterprise – is being pressurised by our Lottery to pursue a funding relationship with his local authority.  The charity sometimes finds itself in the position of needing to challenge certain council services.  His trustees are determined that this is an essential part of their ethos – which Council funding would inhibit.  The independence of our sector is part of its value: free to challenge the policy of Govt, of Councils and, yes, of our Lottery. See the Independence Panel’s annual assessment,

The mess which the Co-operative bank has got itself into is a real downer for those of us who promote a more mutualised model of economics – lessons must be learned here.  Good article in the current Resurgence Mag – about the thinking of E.F Schumacher and Leopold Kohr.  It points out that it is not ‘smallness’ but ‘common ownership’ which is their overarching principle; that this will require organisational models of all sizes.  See,

Senscot’s legal governance resides with the (circa 100) individuals who subscribe to our company each year.  These much appreciated members have received notification that our AGM will take place on Friday 4th October at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh.  As is our custom, the formal AGM will be preceded by an open seminar – on the topic again this year of the emerging Scottish Community Banking Trust.  We’re aiming at a smaller group – two or three dozen folk – who want to delve deeper into this concept.  We link to the summary of our latest report.  Attendance is free but should be notified in advance.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: miEnterprise Scotland, FEAT Trading CIC Ltd, Senscot, Penicuik YMCA, Scottish Council on Deafness, The National Deaf Children’s Society, Transition Extreme Sports limited, Voluntary Action Fund
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 7 Sep; The Ultimate LoCOLL Cookery Course, 8 Sep; An Introduction to Selling, 18 Sep; Summer Sea, Winter Sea, 19 Sep; Fine-tuning your social enterprise, 20 Sep;
TENDERS: Clyde Valley Waste Audits, Supporting Healthcare Practitioners in Delivering Person-Centred Care and Landscape Architect for Wilton Lodge Park Restoration Project. For more details see

The SENs: Kim writes: Applications are open for this year’s Dragons’ Den at the Social Enterprise Conference and Ceilidh on 14th/15th Nov at Westerwood Hotel. To book you place, see . Once again, there will be £5,000 prize for the winner – sponsors to be announced shortly. Also included will be other prizes like the audience prize which will crowd-fund on the day. If you’re brave enough to face the Dragons’ and would like to throw your hat in the ring see,  Closing date is Friday, 18th October.  For more of The SENs weekly update, see

CEiS’ annual SE Conference in Glasgow this week was another success. The event – Social Enterprise Policy and Practice – covered key issues impacting on SEs and the communities they serve – including: welfare reform; procurement; preventative spend; as well as Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). Ian Marr (Aberdeen YMCA) recounted the success of the Perth SIB and their plans to make available their ‘template’ on how this could work for other communities – with their ethos being ‘mutual accountability’. They’re calling it the Social Impact Investment Partnership (SIIP) – and will be available shortly (£900 each). David Hutchison (CEO, Social Finance) also gave an overview of the SIBs approach down south. Not sure David’s words did much to remove the deep reservations that exist about both the source of finance and the actual mechanisms of this model. See, 

The Enterprise Ready Fund (formerly the Growth Fund) is already generating significant interest within the SE community. Limited places are available for next week’s event in Edinburgh (Thurs, 12th Sept at Grassmarket Community Project). If interested, contact .
The Fund will distribute up to £6m between now and 2015. Get along if you can and you will get a more detailed lowdown on criteria etc. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles an organisation in Glasgow providing young people with training in a range of media and production skills. Swamp Creative Media Centre, based in Pollock, is a provider for a number of programmes on behalf of Skills Development Scotland, Careers Scotland, Glasgow City Council and others. In addition, they provide a number of commercial services that include: corporate video production; media training; green screen hire; as well as office/studio space to hire or let. Recent work includes a video for DTA Scotland celebrating their 10th birthday. See,

Of all the tributes to Seamus Heaney last week – I enjoyed the obituary by Neil Corcoran in the Guardian.

 "Heaney was asked whether anything in his work seemed appropriate to him as an epitaph. He demurred at first but, when gently prodded, quoted what he had translated from Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles when his friend the great Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz died in 2004.  Telling the story of the old king who dies and vanishes into the earth, the play’s Messenger says, in Heaney’s version: ‘Wherever that man went, he went gratefully.’  That, said Heaney, would do for him too.  The gratitude is not so much, surely, for the leaving of life, but for the work well done."  See,

I am reminded of Raymond Carver’s beautiful poem ‘Gravy’ – written after he received his death sentence – expressing such gratitude for life.

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210