Senscot Bulletin: 07-03-08

Dear members and friends,

In my drinking days, I could more or less hold it – except that once in a while I would have a `blow out` – like the radiator of my old Saab. I’d start feeling vaguely `untuned` – disconnected – then a mounting irritation with people would build over a few days into an all consuming rage. I’ve read about a form of madness where the victim can’t tolerate any kind of human contact; been there. Getting plastered had the power to dissolve this anger and to restore my love for humanity. In the pub – on a session – I could love total strangers. Now, as a sober person, I have less mood swings – but when they do come I have to ride them out as best I can.
 This is what I was doing for 3 hours on Tuesday – trudging the shore of the Firth of Forth from Blackness Castle to the Forth Bridge – venting my rage at the pollution of the river. This is a depressing stretch of beach – soiled by the filthy brown water – abandoned to refuse and contamination. On my walk I hatched a plan to recruit a network of vigilantes to monitor water quality – a website to post the data – mount a campaign against polluters. I’m sure such a scheme would be fundable – Grangemouth `guilt money` alone. I’ve even got a name for it; `Filthy Forth`. (Filthy Forth/ Firth of Forth – Geddit?)

Yesterday (Thursday), Hazel Blears announced her intention to publish a White Paper on Community Empowerment in England – sometime this summer. This is an important announcement – the consequence of repeated commitments to revive local democracy – from Blair, Brown, the Milibands, Blears etc. I believe there is firm intent to change the relationship between the citizen, communities and local councils. In Scotland, where the notion of community empowerment is less embedded in Government Policy, I suspect we will come to envy the force of this new legislation. The SNP decision to make individual Councils the arbiters of what influence and resource will pass to communities – is a high risk policy. What will happen in areas where council officials have scant respect for local people. Senscot understands that a Scottish Government empowerment document will emerge shortly from which we will see if the SNP believe in independence for communities. Meantime, the revised Local People Leading Position Statement provides a good benchmark for community empowerment in Scotland.

Scottish Government has announced the details of £30m funding for Third Sector infrastructure development over the next three years. The headline of the package is a thumping vote of confidence for the 57 Councils of Voluntary Service (CVS) across the country. Including a matching Lottery grant, the CSV’s will receive an unprecedented £20m – the Government’s flagship policy for the Third Sector. Personally, I don’t get it but maybe they know something! £4m has been allocated to help the sector get more enterprising – including £100k per annum for Senscot to continue its work with the Networks. Check out who got what

Lots of feedback from the LSEN delegation to Voice 08 last week. I remember from my community work days, that it’s the dozen in the minibus for 3 hours – that make the best new contacts. The participants got such a buzz that it’s a real shame that these events are priced beyond the reach of most start-up social entrepreneurs. The prosperity of our sector doesn’t depend on the suits and the policy wonks – it depends on the folk with the bottle to set up social businesses.
Senscot`s annual appeal for donations is into its last 2 weeks. Can we thank everyone who has taken the time to contribute – it’s very much appreciated. For those of you who’ve not got round to it yet, there’s still time for some last minute donations. Link for details

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: 20 vacancies, incl. posts with: Forth Sector, Blake Stevenson Ltd, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Social Enterprise Academy, Routes to Work South, Norris Green Youth Centre
EVENTS: 16 events, Mental Health Awareness, 15 Mar, Kirkcaldy; More than Recycling 08, 11 Mar, Perth; S2S Third Annual Social Enterprise Trade Fair, 23 Apr, Dundee

Networks 1st: Senscot got word this week that funding will be available for the next three years to continue to support the development the Local Social Enterprise Networks (LSENs).This should mean some increased capacity to get out and about, attend more Networks meetings and make a few more visits to social enterprises themselves. We’re still currently working on an updated `Networks 1st` page for the Senscot website. This will act as a national portal for all Network information with the aim of driving opportunities towards social enterprises themselves as opposed to developing another tier of intermediary. For more, see weekly update

When setting up a new social enterprise – the most difficult time for finance is at the beginning – when the idea is unproven. In the early days of Senscot – two backers had faith in us – the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Dave Coulter at Scottish Enterprise. I mention this because David announced this week that he has `accepted a package` from Scottish Enterprise into early retirement. Following a period of relaxation, he says he’ll find something part-time to keep him occupied. Be assured – we haven’t heard the last of him yet.  Another old friend of Senscot, Carol Bartholomew, retired last year from the Chair of Education on West Lothian Council. Carol has accepted the role of Network Development Officer with the Coalfield SEN – with the departure of Kevin Robbie, the post of CEO at Forth Sector has been filled by Mike Finlayson – and another flagship social enterprise, Aberdeen Foyer, is trying to find a Commercial Director.

The social enterprise `attitude` continues to influence the whole Third Sector, but I have long believed that it’s the private sector which will be most changed by our movement. Sensible people need to believe in something other than personal gain and, once they understand it, social business is an attractive challenge to successful individuals – I expect all kinds of joint ventures and hybrid models of capitalism to evolve. Can’t get my head round the concept of a social stock exchange though. Can’t see how it would work.

This week`s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise based in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow. The Glasgow Wood Recycling Project, set up in the summer of 2007, provides a cost effective, environmentally friendly, wood recycling and re-use service. They collect a variety of wood waste from businesses, construction sites, schools and homes and sell quality reclaimed wood and wooden products. They hope to be a self-sustaining wood reuse and recycling business within three years and have developed a partnership with Glasgow School of Art to assist them. For more, see

‘That is at the bottom the only courage that is demanded of us; to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called `visions`, the whole so-called `spirit-world`, death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out by life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied.’  – Rainer Maria Rilke

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

Best wishes,

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