Senscot Bulletin: 08-12-2005

Dear members and friends,

In one of my favourite films “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Clarence, the trainee angel, is sent to earth by St Peter to help James Stewart. “What’s wrong?” Clarence asks. “Is he ill?” “Worse,” says St Peter – “He’s discouraged.” There’s an important insight here. Suffering and loss are inevitable parts of life – but discouragement is worse.
 When I was a wee boy I went for holidays to my nonna in Glasgow – bunked with my favourite uncle Joe. After his sister died (my mother), this gentle giant of a man became my friend. But when I was about nine Joe became depressed – for months he just sat in a chair – emotional shutdown. Everyone was really worried. One day when I was working through a puzzle book, Joe joined in – for an hour we played together. Nonna, overjoyed, immediately sent me out to buy more puzzle books. Sensing the significance of this errand I walked from Sandyhills, all the length of Shettleston Road, to Duke Street – maybe 4 miles – tried perhaps 30 shops – none had a puzzle book. Returning three hours later – in the dark – tired and dejected – nonna was more relieved I was safe than disappointed about books.
 Not clear what this story means – or why it has stayed with me all these years. In time Uncle Joe found his way back to us – to hear again the joy of his laughter was like a miracle. I wonder if Clarence had a hand in it.

We’ve been swamped with orders for Laurence’s book – apologies for delays. Backlog has now been sent out so if yours hasn’t arrived, e-mail . If you want delivery for Xmas better move now,  Otherwise you can purchase it from Word Power here:

For at least five years I have been attending meetings about venture capital funds for our sector – sometimes called ‘social investment funds’. There can be few ideas about which so many, have written so much – with so little accomplished. Gerry Higgins, the new boss of CEiS, has now taken up the baton in Scotland and hosted a dinner last week along with RBS for many of the key players, which our Aidan attended. Aidan says: “Michael Traill (Social Ventures Australia) talked about raising $10m for investment. He’s got an interesting take on ‘risk’- their interest is more towards social change than social enterprise, and on how you measure this impact. Gerry is taking a lead in Scotland, particularly, with a view to the supply side of things. He spoke of developing a Venture Philanthropy Fund and, in particular, the need for a more collaborative approach in Scotland.” We’ll keep you posted on progress. Meanwhile, in England, the Social Investment Market Group has recently published a report that calls for a joined-up approach including a shared web-portal. For info’, see

The launch of the Scottish Executive’s Social Enterprise Strategy has been postponed until the New Year. The Strategy is going to the Social Economy Advisory Board this month before submission to ministers for scrutiny in January. Those of us familiar with previous ‘ministerial scrutiny’ know that this can take time and we must hope it doesn’t get tangled with electioneering. There will be a one year action plan funded from April 2007 to March 2008.  This will inform a subsequent three-year programme to 2011.

The steering group comprising trustees of Senscot and Scotland UnLtd has now incorporated its new company, called First Port, aimed specifically at supporting early stage social entrepreneurs and their start-up enterprises. The new venture will blend the Senscot Exchange with the UnLtd awards programme. Naomi Johnson, First Port’s newly appointed Executive Director, is expected to take up post on 8th January 2007. Naomi will move up from Bristol where she has been Development Manager of the Community Recycling Network (CRN). We wish her luck in her new post. About First Port:

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: 21 vacancies, incl. posts with: Edinburgh Community Food Initiative, Impact Arts, Outside the Box Development Support Ltd, Council for Voluntary Service Inverness, Scottish Executive.

EVENTS:17 events, incl. Fly Right Dance Company – Family Christmas Bash with Fat Sams Band, Haddington, 15 Dec; Social Enterprise Academy – Short Courses, 2007, book by Dec 31 for discount; Developing Social Enterprise, Edinburgh, 17 Jan 07; ‘We Know the Difference Volunteers Make!’, 23 Jan, Inverness.

We hear that our old pal Andrew Robinson has taken up an appointment with CCLA – investment managers for a number of local authorities and the Church of England. For many years Andrew has been a ‘well kent face’ in the UK social enterprise scene – principally as head of Community Banking at the Royal Bank of Scotland. His work in support of development trusts and CDFIs has advanced those movements, and Senscot is among many organisations in Scotland who have been beneficiaries of RBS support. We wish Andrew well in his new job. Don’t yet understand his game plan – but there’ll certainly be one.

Customers in the UK on low incomes are treated by high street banks as ‘second class citizens’, a report by the influential Treasury Select Committee has concluded. The report also rebukes the Government for failing to encourage alternatives to banks – like credit unions: An example of what can be achieved in the field of financial inclusion is the Fair Finance model of Faisel Rahman in Tower Hamlets which is demonstrating that society’s poorest are not necessarily bad credit risks Gordon Brown sooks up to the banking industry.

Good Company magazine is now available in printed version – £5 a copy (including postage). Send contact details to Anne-Marie at to receive a copy with invoice.  Next issue is out at the end of February and is also available through subscription. For info’, see

This week’s bulletin profiles an award-winning glass recycling company based in Shetland, Enviroglass. Set up in 2003 and operated by Shetland Amenity Trust, Enviroglass currently recycles 600tons per annum of waste glass which would otherwise be landfilled. It is constantly developing innovative products made from recycled glass – including glass paving slabs, aggregate replacement and garden furniture. Enviroglass has recently won a number of contracts down south, including schools in Manchester and Housing Development in London. For further info’, see

“The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties – this knowledge, this feeling … that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.” (Albert Einstein)

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

Best wishes,

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