Senscot Bulletin: 07.11.08

Dear members and friends,

On 4th November 2004, I wrote this in my diary: “Deep gloom – Bush and his gang are back for another 4 years – the neo-liberal project advances – Britain is part of it – global tension moves up another notch – it’s scary.” These have indeed been dark years with wars and rumours of wars; the institutions of government pillaged; mass surveillance of citizens; state endorsed torture; and now economic calamity. Bush was a puppet of the capitalist free-for-all which has just collapsed. American democracy has at last mobilised for a change of regime – relief can be felt around the world.
 Ever since the `American Dream` took shape, it has been blighted by the contradiction of racial injustice. Thomas Jefferson, writing the Declaration of Independence in 1776, owned 100 slaves. Many of us can remember when schools, buses, restaurants etc were segregated in southern states. In electing Barak Obama, the American people have moved to repair the deep wound of racism in their society. The healing will take many years but the symbolic impact of a black president is beyond measure. This is like a `Mandela` moment for the USA.
 This week I write in my diary: “It’s difficult not to feel optimism – everyone I speak to rejoices for Obama. He’s exhausted but there’s a steely resolution; he seems a sincere man – authentic – the thoughtfulness and humility of real stature. I allow myself to hope that the neo-liberal bandwagon is now spent – and that this new president can become the focus of our hopes for a kinder world. May the force be with him.”

Two readers contacted Senscot this week to ask where they could find an update of Scottish Government’s policy on community empowerment.  They could find nothing on the Government website – no policy documents or speeches – but we were unable to help.  Senscot hears stuff on the grapevine – of work being commissioned – contracts (like Community Voices) being tendered – but there’s a dearth of actual information.  Following an upbeat manifesto, the SNP has gone all quiet on promised initiatives like ‘enhanced empowerment status’ etc.  It’s possible that part of the price for the ‘historic concordat’ was a concession to leave local democracy to local councils.  Scottish Government`s community empowerment action plan, which is expected `early next year`, will be informed by a new study of different models of community action.  Here is the ‘leaked’ list of the 12 communities which the government has selected for comparison.

On the subject of measuring social impact; Social Return on Investment (SROI), Social Accounting (SA) etc – we have received a ‘spirited’ response from Kevin Robbie in Australia. Basically he says we’ve got it all wrong.  Well hey – it wouldn’t be the first time.  Kevin’s email makes it clear that a great deal of work has, and is, being invested in trying to create a robust measuring tool – that it’s still work in progress.  But it’s difficult to see how anyone not directly involved would be aware of this story.  I’m sure that Third Sector practitioners, who after all will be expected to use these tools, would be interested in the process of their development.  Kevin’s letter helps in this regard.  Any more offers.

Last week’s story on social enterprise venues has generated a huge response. We’ve not had the chance to update the current list but will do so over the next week and will post it on the website. If you’ve not been in touch but wish to be included, contact Again, here’s the original list.
DTA Scotland has appointed a successor to Angus Hardie who’s moving to head up Local People Leading in January. Ian Cooke will take up post in the New Year. Here’s some background on Ian.

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: incl. posts with: Social Firms Scotland, Forth Sector, Social Firms Scotland, Patons & Baldwins Recreation & Welfare Association, ARK Housing Association Ltd, greenspace scotland
EVENTS: Making Sustainable Places: Green Networks, Empowered Communities, 7 Nov, Glenrothes; Launch of Social Accounting and Audit Research Project, 7 Nov, Edinburgh; Health & Wellbeing Fair, 1 Nov, Aberdeen; Compassionate Living Fayre, 8 Nov, Edinburgh

NETWORKS 1st News:  This year’s Ceilidh is now FULL! ( There may be the odd `day delegate` place left but you’ll need to contact Victoria ASAP if you haven’t booked yet ( Once more, we would like to thank RBS and the Scottish Government for backing the event again. Eric Munro (RBS), in particular, has been a great supporter of the Ceilidh and makes it possible for us to use such a terrific venue. This year we’re also very pleased to have another sponsor in the shape of Unity Enterprise. Mags McCarthy from Unity has put up £2,000 to match the RBS prize fund for the Dragon’s Den and will join this year’s Dragon’s in the Den! For more NETWORKS News, see

Foster Evans, Director of Employers in Voluntary Housing and a Senscot Board member, had a piece in yesterday’s Scotsman extolling the virtues of social enterprise. Here’s what he had to say,

The Commonwealth Games in 2014 will provide significant procurement opportunities for businesses in the West of Scotland and CEiS is determined that social enterprises don’t miss out. They are carrying out a study to assess if the level of skills/knowledge/resources the sector has to deliver on such opportunities and to gauge what level of developmental support would be needed to do so. The attached questionnaire will form the basis of their report to Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council. If you’re interested, fill in the attached questionnaire. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be treated in confidence

The Scottish Community Foundation announced this week the exciting `Arts Funding Prize for Edinburgh`. An anonymous donor has put up a £3m prize for a `new project of exceptional merit`. See details  On the ground, other opportunities continue to be available for social entrepreneurs in Scotland. NESTA`s `Starter for 6` programme provides enterprise training, support and grant awards of up to £10,000 to innovative business start-ups. Here’s more info` on the programme as well as details on past recipients.

This week’s bulletin profiles an emerging social firm in Edinburgh whose vision is to create positive development and employment opportunities for disabled people. With People provides accessibility training, graphic design and information technology services for the Third sector. The work of the business creates employment and volunteering opportunities for people with disabilities. The team is made up of skilled and experienced professionals who happen to have a first-hand experience of disability. For more, see

Professor Larry Tribe taught Barak Obama constitutional law at Harvard in 1989. He wrote a short personal testimonial in last week`s Observer.

“He impressed me from the beginning as an extraordinary young man. He was obviously brilliant, driven and interested in pursuing ideas with a clear sense that his reasons for being in law school were not to climb some corporate ladder, nor simply to broaden his opportunities, but to go back to the community. He had a personal quality which was transcendent and I continued to feel that way about him each time we met. And the quality he demonstrated that I’ve always been left with more than any other is authenticity. There isn’t a fibre of phoniness about this guy.” Read more

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

Best wishes,

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