Senscot Bulletin: 09.01.09

Dear members and friends,

 Circa 1988 – supper with a senior civil servant in Edinburgh’s Bar Roma – part friendship, part business – we’re reading the menu when he says out of the blue – ‘‘I could get you a gong’’- his exact words.  I recorded my thoughts: 1) Wow, what a thrill. 2) He sounds embarrassed. 3) I’ve got more to trade than I realised. 4) I can’t be a rebel with an OBE. 5) My dad might realise I’m not a useless b#stard. 6) It’s a close call whether I say yes or no.  I’m reminded of this incident by a piece in the Scottish Review by Kenneth Roy – called ‘Why don’t we rock the boat’.
 Roy evokes beautifully the way in which the ruling political establishment co-opts the leaders of civil society through the use of grants, honours, appointments, prestige etc.  They buy our silence – our freedom to dissent publicly to whatever matters.  And thus debate is controlled – ‘‘All conducted within a safe and closed environment, all of us accepting implicitly the unspoken rules of engagement – or rather non engagement’’.  He calls Scotland: ‘‘A strangely acquiescent little place’’. 
 The motives we attribute to past actions are mostly invented – but I believe I swerved that gong because I’m more comfortable as an outsider.  Who knows why some of us are like this – perhaps a shrink could find the reason, buried in the memories of a particular childhood – perhaps something innocuous.  Citizen Kane’s last thoughts were of a childhood sledge called Rosebud.  I don’t think it matters why.  See Kenneth Roy`s piece

Our social enterprise sector embraces a wide variety of businesses and philosophies and I find it helpful to think in terms of left and right wing styles.  My notional left wing comprises businesses which stress democratic governance and accountability – typically community enterprises.  I think of the right as businesses which tend to be autocratically run and are often uncomfortable with the ‘asset lock’ which defines our sector.  On the left wing of our movement social values dominate – on the right, business values dominate.  In England recently two of their high profile Social Enterprise Ambassadors have been `let go`.  Liam Black and Stephen Sears have, it seems, strayed across our right wing boundary.  Another one, Tim Campbell, wants to abolish the asset lock on CICs and may be next for the chop.  Over the coming months Senscot will test the appetite in Scotland for introducing a UK-wide accredited Social Enterprise Kite Mark.  If our movement is to spread the public need to understand what if stands for.

I complained in the last bulletin that the SNP Administration judges everything, including the Third Sector, in terms of how it contributes to sustainable economic growth – their panacea for everything. Good letter from a reader saying that the same unease is spreading to our arts sector.

Sometime around spring it is expected that Scottish Government will publish what it calls a `Community Empowerment Action Plan` and in the attached article from Scotregen, Alasdair McKinlay, who will be drafting the plan, discusses progress. Like most commentators, I find SNP`s lack of enthusiasm for local democracy disappointing although some recent comments from Nicola Sturgeon suggest that the community activists of Govan have got her ear. My usual moan that Scottish Govt is afraid of an independent community sector voice is contradicted by the support they have given to the birth of the Local People Leading campaign. Cautiously hopeful is the current mood.

Following a request from Scottish Government, Victoria has been beavering away on the list of social enterprises in Scotland which can offer meeting room facilities.  The list, which can be accessed from our website home page, has now reached 120.  Senscot has done no quality check on these venues.  If we’ve missed you out, email See list

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: IACD/C, Carnoustie Centre Action Group, Co-operative Development Scotland, Edinburgh Community Backgreen Association, West Lothian Food and Health Development
EVENTS: Mental Health Awareness, Fife Employment Access Trust, 2 Feb; Fit for Purpose, Senscot, 3 Mar; CRNS, CRNS 4TH Annual Conference & Awards, 10 Mar; Stress Awareness at Work, Fife Employment Access Trust, 13 Mar

NETWORKS 1st News: Voice 09 is the main UK wide jamboree for the social enterprise sector and last year Senscot organised a delegation from the Networks down to Liverpool. This year the event will be held in Birmingham on 10th/11th February and, with the support of Scottish Govt, we intend to organise a similar delegation from Scotland. Anna will be in touch with Network members re details. For more NETWORKS News, see

Huge response to the forthcoming ‘Fit for Purpose’ Conference in Edinburgh on 3rd March 2009.  The venue only holds 100 and over 50 have already registered.

CEIS is hosting a `Public Sector meets Third Sector` event at the Teachers Building in Glasgow on 21st January. For details and booking forms, see

Each January Senscot invites subscriptions and donations. As Scotland’s network for social entrepreneurs, company membership is open only to individuals – who elect our board of directors at our AGM. Last year, our 120 company members paid an average £25 subscription. Because we keep being asked, we have introduced this year an associate membership for organisations. Organisations which pay an annual subscription of £100 will have unlimited use of our jobs and events advertising service. Those not interested in full or associate membership are invited to make a donation to the cost of the bulletin. Please note that payment is not a condition of receiving the bulletin. See more info

The Scottish Consumer Council, Energywatch Scotland and Postwatch Scotland have merged – to form Consumer Focus Scotland.  Co-ordinator Gill McGregor tells us they are now recruiting a Scotland wide network of volunteers. See more

This week’s bulletin profiles an organization that has been providing a range of services for almost 40 years to women from the minority ethnic community in Dundee. The Dundee International Women`s Centre was set up in 1969 and now has over 450 women from over 50 different countries using the Centre. They are currently developing some enterprises that will help provide a source of income for both the Centre and the local women involved. For more, see

Good article in Saturday’s Guardian argues that kindness is out of fashion – but that it’s not going to go away. 

‘‘People think that they envy other people for their success, money, fame, when in fact it is kindness that is most envied, because it is the strongest indicator of people’s well-being, their pleasure in existence… There is a part of us all which knows that kindness – the unromantic kindness, which encourages a feeling of aliveness as compatible with, indeed integral to, a feeling of vulnerability – creates the kind of intimacy, the kind of involvement with other people, that we both fear and crave.  That it is kindness, fundamentally, that makes life seem worth living: and that everything that is against kindness is an assault on our hope.’’
See full article,  

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

Best wishes,

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