Senscot Bulletin: 06.11.15

Dear members and friends,


Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote this column from this same hotel – a great spa of a place with 400 rooms – but now, in November, it’s half empty and half price. I’m attracted by the hotel’s isolated location – by the unfailing courtesy of the staff team – and by the spacious bedrooms and balconies facing the sea. I’m sitting just now on the roofed part of my balcony – watching the rain on the front part. It’s a gentle and friendly rain – almost spiritual; but it’s wet and I wish it would go away.


            I have two long term friends who, some years ago, moved to Spain with their families; visits to them are highlights of my trips. They don’t know each other these two – from two different chapters in my life story; but, at present, they have in common that they are both building houses. One project, on the coast (San Pedro) is nearing completion and is mighty impressive. The other, in a mountain village, is not so far advanced – but equally ambitious. Different takes on Andalucia.


            I am struck this week by how energised both of my friends are by these late life building projects; their passion makes me want a new adventure of my own. And the house where we end up – surrounded by all our collected bits and pieces – I wonder if this says something special about the life we’ve lived ; does it somehow measure us – what we amount to. (Philip Larkin’s poem, Mr Bleaney, asks this poignantly)


When I was young, British society was pursuing social democracy through three finely balanced functions: the private sector driving the economy; the public sector running state services; the third sector identifying the excluded – developing solutions. With Margaret Thatcher, came a market fundamentalism which is still gathering momentum. In a recent talk, Nepun Mehta describes how – with the encroachment of the market into the public and third sectors – the previous balance has been lost – and money has become the over-dominant consideration. Mehta argues that humans have intrinsic motivations way beyond getting money – says that the challenge for social innovators has become how to effect social change outwith money and markets. He sketches the emerging landscape of postcapitalist initiatives.


Last week’s CEIS Bulletin reports from a SEA Summit in Denver, Colorado that focused attention on the influx of ‘for profit’ organisations into the SE sector and the potential impact of this. It is a direction of travel that has been encouraged from various quarters – not just in the US, but also in the UK; sources that include the British Council and advocates of the ‘mission lock’. With the increasing profile of social enterprise and the accompanying availability of ‘social finance’, this influx of ‘hybrids’ was always likely to be an inevitable consequence. Good luck to them – any trend that encourages private business to adopt social objectives is entirely welcome. However, speaking in Edinburgh in 2012, Muhammad Yunus offered a note of caution: “ If you want private profit, set up a private business – when you try to mix social benefit and private profit, things gets very complicated". Here’s an updated version of our short paper – The Gap Widens. A reader also spotted the report from Denver – offering these thoughts.


Back in September 2012, the Land Action Scotland ran a campaign – ultimately unsuccessful – to try and democratise the membership of the Applecross Trust. Andy Wightman, the land rights campaigner, updates this week that the campaign was not in vain and that local people local people have made extraordinary strides in developing projects to build resilience and prosperity in the community. The most significant of these is Applecross Hydro. Apple Juice (Applecross) Limited is a Community Benefit Society which has been formed by local people to fundraise, construct and operate a 90kw community hydro scheme – and are now seeking investors. Their target is £780k – with £240k raised so far (over £100k from local people). See more (including video) .

The Social Housing Charter was launched in 2012 by the Scottish Housing Network – and plays an important role in service standards amongst Social Landlords and Local Authorities (LAs) across Scotland. Their recent Report 2014/15 highlights that landlord services provided by community-controlled housing associations continue to outperform those of other social landlords. This report is a timely reminder that, particularly in reference to delivery of public services, local people are better served by organisations embedded within their respective communities.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Dumbarton Road Corridor Environment Trust, Crossreach, Money Matters Money Advice Centre, Social Investment Scotland, WorkingRite, Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust 
EVENTS: Coalfields Community Challenge, 6 Nov; Portobello Market, 7 Nov; Social Entrepreneurs Chat Show, 18 Nov; Social Finance: Social Investment: Social Banking – What makes them Social?, 19th Nov;
TENDERS: Website redesign, hosting, CMS – Scottish Human Rights Commission, Integrated Drug and Alcohol Service – Dumfries & Galloway Council, Corporate Resource Partner to Assist Change – East Renfrewshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  By this time next week the 11th SE Conference and Ceilidh will be done for another year. This year’s event is just about sold out with 116 folk signed up – 4 places still available – if anyone fancies coming along. If so – book your place here . The Programme includes some of our familiar sessions such as Dragons Den; The Big Question; and SE Showcase – and will also include workshops covering EU Funding; SCRT; Thematic SEN World Café; and What Matters To You (Fairer Scotland). The SE Conference and Ceilidh was originally set up for SEN members to gather together, on annual basis, not just to discuss some of the challenges they jointly face but also to provide an opportunity to mix in less formal circumstances. Today, attendees remain primarily from grassroots organisations


Emerge event in Oxford this weekend will see 500 folk gather to ‘share ideas for a more socially and environmentally responsible world’. Speakers include our old friend, Robbie Davison, who will be highlighting about how ‘social financiers’ have got the wrong approach to investing in our sector. On the 19th Nov – at the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh – SCRT hosts its own event where an array of speakers address not dissimilar themes re investment and finance in the third sector. Social Finance; Social Investment; Social Banking: What makes them Social? – is the first event of its kind in Scotland. See booking form.  Senscot is sponsoring 6 places for Senscot or SEN members. To book one of these, email
Faith-based organisations are one of the mainstays of both the social enterprise and wider third sector in Scotland and is a tradition that goes back a long way. Many folk may be surprised at the number of well-established organisations in our sector whose roots were and remain very much faith-driven. Last Saturday, Radio Scotland did a feature on faith-based businesses and social enterprises. The programme features a couple of SEN members in Wevolution and The Grassmarket Project.


Couple of award events this week. The Scottish SE Awards 2015 at the Parliament on Tuesday evening awarded ‘SE of the Year’ to Shetland-based Cope Ltd. Cope will now head to London for the UK Awards. See full list of winners. Also, the Herald’s ‘Best of Scotland Awards’ saw a number of familiar names pick up awards – with Gregory Chauvet (Glasgow Bike Station) scooping ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’. Congrats all round.


This week’s bulletin profiles a UK-wide organisation that operates a number of outlets Scotland – in Aberdeen; Dundee; Dumfries; Glasgow – and with plans to open more. Co-wheels is the only independently owned national car club, providing low emission, hybrid and electric cars on a pay-as-you-go basis for organisations and communities across the UK. Trading as a social enterprise, Co-wheels has a commitment to improve society and the environment. Its primary focus is to help members to save money, reduce car ownership and create a cleaner environment by making lower impact transport options available to everyone. As a CIC, Co-wheels reinvests its profits into its operations to expand and improve the service. 


Over a 40 year period, I have possibly visited Andalucia 100 times – and have so many memories that I am no longer certain what actually happened – and what I have imagined. This is a quote from Sebastian Barry’s beautiful novel ‘The Secret Scripture’:


“Is it that my memories and my imaginings are lying deeply in the same place – one on top of the other – like layers of shells and sand in a piece of limestone – so that they have both become the same element.”


Whether remembered or imagined – Andalucia keeps tugging me back. Next week – more from Espana! 


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