Senscot Bulletin: 08.04.11

Dear members and friends,

Of golf’s four majors – only one, the Masters, is exclusive to a specific golf course – Augusta National, Georgia, USA.  The whole event is a bit too ‘up itself’ for my liking – but I never miss it; for four days in April each year, I’m ‘switched on’.  Gutted to discover this week that the BBC has lost the TV rights – to Rupert Murdoch’s dark empire.
 I love the concept of ‘the commons’ – as meaning resources collectively owned – ‘held in common’.  Traditionally the term refers to shared land – where poor folk grazed their bits of livestock; but ‘the poor had no lawyers’ – gradually the gentry ‘enclosed’ their land, (stole it).  Our parks and forests are our commons now – our libraries and museums – our marvellous health and education services – the internet – the BBC etc.  Owned by all, these resources bind us together – an equalisation between the more and less fortunate.  Since ancient times – across the world – people are also unified by great sporting events.  All of this shared public realm – the very fabric of our society – needs constant protection from private ‘enclosure’.
 I’ve appointed Rupert Murdoch my personal scapegoat for the pillage of our ‘commons’ – symbol of the wasted world, where only money matters.  Sure, I’ll miss the Augusta Masters this week – but I won’t be leaving on that midnight train to Georgia.  He wants us all to live in his world – but I’d rather live without him in mine, (apologies to Gladys Knight and the Pips).

Up and down to London on Wednesday for the official launch of ‘Locality’ (from the recent merger of BASSAC and DTA). Bash took place in the House of Lords! – Stunning room and terrace overlooking the river – great scoff.  Fair smattering of the English third sector’s movers and shakers – but ‘the body of the kirk’ comprised ‘battle hardened troops’ from front line communities – which is what makes Locality different.  Not only close to communities – now positioned to work close to Govt – a rare combination; but familiarity with the corridors of power may bring new, different, challenges. Joanna Holmes, the new Chair, told of how Locality came about – an inspiring story.  CEO Steve Wyler delivered 5 pledges – which indicate the way Locality is facing.

Elsewhere one detects muddled thinking about the purpose and conduct of third sector events – some of which appear to be priced and staged for the benefit of private sector ‘suits’ and other camp followers. The cost of a ticket for last week’s Voice 11 in London was £150 plus VAT – which says clearly to the average activist/volunteer – "you’re not wanted". Some of our sector’s leaders need to come clean with themselves about the constituency they serve. The great bulk of the third sector comprises small scale ‘subsistence’ activity in poor areas. These people deserve the support of intermediaries from the same planet.

The new Scottish Community Alliance published its report this week on Land Reform – written by Andy Wightman, our leading land reform campaigner. The purpose of the report is to review progress – stimulate fresh thinking – challenge the new Govt in May to come up with a new programme. In his final section, Andy considers land reform as a unifying strand of policy that can help deliver existing policies on community empowerment, asset transfer, regeneration, housing, local governance and finance and renewable energy. His 16 recommendations fair cheered me up – a manifesto for local democracy.

I follow the columns of Kenneth Roy in the online Scottish Review – which vigorously challenge the conduct of the Scottish establishment – in graceful prose. Here he is ‘having a pop’ at Strathclyde’s ‘trigger happy’ chief constable, Stephen House. Doesn’t miss him either.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS:  Scottish Huntington’s Association, Balornock East Residents Association, Transition Extreme Sports Limited, The Scottish Premier League Trust, Edinburgh University Students’ Association, Clackmannanshire
EVENTS: Leading Edge, 28 Apr, Bottled Tears: The Stow-Away War Bride, 5 May, Employment Law: The basics, 11 May, Using creative approaches to evaluate your project, 12 May
TENDERS: Collection and Treatment of Garden Waste, Supply of Fresh Bakery Products, Term Maintenance and Framework Agreement for the Servicing/Maintenance of Catering Equipment

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes:  The Sport SEN’s first Social Enterprise and Sport National Conference will take place at the Stirling Management Centre on 1st June 2011(See draft programme, This co-incides with the start of the second year of our Social Enterprise and Sport initiative that is being supported by sportscotland and the Robertson Trust.  Activity over the first 12 months has included growing the Network (38 members), establishing the Roundtable and carrying out ‘Vital Stats’ (18 orgs). Diane has also visited over 60 sports organisations across the country. The Conference will be the Sports SEN’s first National event. Booking forms will be available from next week. If you’d like to register your interest, contact . For more Networks News, see

The failure of leading social enterprise, the Wise Group, to retain the Govt’s Work Programme contract for Scotland, has caused an outcry. The procurement system significantly favours very large companies with cash reserves – third sector enterprises, better connected to communities, can’t afford to compete on price. The winners of the Scottish contract propose only 7% third sector input. It’s all very disappointing. The Big Society ethos clearly hasn’t reached the DWP. See,

Last week, Stonelaw High scooped the 2011 Young Person’s Social Enterprise of the Year Awards in London. The Social Enterprise Academy informs us that Stonelaw’s achievements are just the tip of the iceberg with scores of flourishing social enterprises taking root in Scotland’s schools. Other examples include Sparkles Nail Bar at Paisley Grammar and Our Lady of Peace Primary (Linwood) who run a uniform recycling enterprise. All of these schools and 55 others are now recognised as ‘Social Enterprise Schools’ as awarded by the Academy. See more,

Last month, I found myself close to Ed Miliband for a couple of hours – observing. He seems an intense, considered chap – not overly self-important. Clearly not ‘showbiz’ like Blair and Cameron; more serious than that – more in touch with values. His reflections, at Voice 11 last week, about social enterprise are worth noting. He believes that, if taken seriously enough, the influence of social enterprise on both the public and private sectors could be profound. I believe he understands what we do – and sees the big picture.

My sense is that the new legal form, designed specifically for Scottish Charities, will fill a genuine gap – and could well become the model of choice for our sector. Called a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), it offers the benefits of incorporation without also having to register at Companies House. New organisations can choose this legal form right away. See,

This week’s bulletin re-visits Food Train, a D&G SEN member, first profiled early in 2009 (see, Over the last 15 years, Food Train has been providing a highly successful shopping service to older people across Dumfries & Galloway. In Sept 2010, they extended their service with a ‘pilot’ in West Lothian to test their transferability to other areas. An Evaluation Report has just been produced – with results exceeding all expectations. See Report,

Scottish writer and poet Alastair Reid discovered Spain and Spanish as a young man and has spent much of his life there – ‘as an antidote to Calvinism’.  Walking back from the West Sands beach in St Andrews into town one day – he encounters ‘the woman from the fish shop’ – and this poem ‘happens’ to him.  It’s simply called ‘Scotland’ and beautifully captures the ‘determined pessimism’ of we Scots.
"It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet, when larks rose on long thing strings of singing and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.  Greenness entered the body.  The grasses shivered with presences, and sunlight stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.  Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat, the woman from the fish-shop.  ‘What a day it is!’ cried I, like a sunstruck madman.  And what did she have to say for it?  Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves as she spoke with their ancient misery: ‘We’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it!’"

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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