Senscot Bulletin: 09.08.13

Dear members and friends,

 Every Sunday 9am I would watch the Andrew Marr show – but now I’ve stopped; the main appeal was the man himself – Glasgow born, Loretto-educated charmer; most of my lady friends think he’s ‘lovely’.  Only 6 months ago Marr had a devastating stroke – but he and wife Jackie Ashley have volunteered an interview with Robert McCrum of the Observer – suggesting that recovery is going well. Marr admits that he was working at an insane pace – 18 hour days – in addition to a punishing exercise schedule – driven.
 The most revealing aspect of the interview is Marr’s determined lack of introspection; when offered help to talk about the psychological aspects of his illness, he declined saying – ‘I don’t do tears.’  He says he has no interest in exploring his ‘murky depths’; ‘I’ve no inner life’ he declares merrily.  McCrum is reminded of the man on the couch, in the New Yorker cartoon, who believes that his personal life is none of his own damn business.
 Marr says he has learnt his lesson – from now on will ‘do less – slower – better’.  McCrum checks this with wife Jackie ‘Has he changed?’ ‘No’ she smiles, ‘not really’.  ‘Not enough!’  Marr exclaims ‘I’ve always believed in getting on with it.  My grandfather used to say that hard work never killed anyone!’  Hopefully he knows better now – that addiction to work or exercise – or both – can indeed kill.  Please get well, Andy; you’re a brilliant journalist – and lovely with it. But what, I wonder, drives your engine.  See,

We still have copies of ‘Kindness’ – Laurence’s latest selection of bulletin intros (2007-12). If you’d like a copy, see

Last week Jon Harris wrote a good piece in the Guardian about the scandal of public service outsourcing – which stimulated some vigorous correspondence.  Four letters are linked which point out that the public and private sectors are different moral spheres – with different ethics and values.  They warn that England is heading towards control of public service provision by a handful of private monopolies – which have no notion of what public service means.  They also say that those parts of the voluntary sector which have chosen ‘to get into bed’ with these corporates – have, securing their own survival – compromised the voice of civil society.  See,

Realisation is eventually dawning that Big Society Capital (BSC) – has not been created to meet the needs of the UK’s third sector.  Only around 10% of third sector organisations has a ‘bankable’ business model – and they are better serviced by a ‘normal’ bank.  BSC is driven by the notion of a new ‘social investment asset class’ – underwritten by the taxpayer – to soak up some of the surplus capital in world markets (remember PFI).  We need to forget BSC – create new mechanisms which will provide what is required; small, fast, flexible amounts; £25k – £100k seed corn grants – patient loans – crowd funding – peer to peer lending etc.  See,

When we choose to work in the third sector – in solidarity, usually, with people who know hardship – it is important that salaries are fair, but restrained.  The differential between lowest and highest pay should be low – say 1:5 – max.  Last week, the Daily Telegraph reported that 30 staff from 14 leading UK foreign aid charities were paid over £100k last year; the chair of the charity commissioner, William Shawcross, has rightly commented that large salaries could damage the reputation of charities.  The amount people earn should be in the public domain; let’s have a Scottish register of third sector executive salaries; just to keep everyone focused.  See,

A whole new raft of companies is springing up – which use technology to connect those who have assets, with those who want to use them; you may recognise names like Airbnb, Task Rabbit, Sorted, Lyft etc.  But it’s not only new technology that links them – they promote themselves as the ‘sharing economy’ – embracing a set of anti-consumerist, post capitalist values.  Good article by Karen Sucheki in New Start – explaining that, in this sector, the distinction between social enterprise and private business needs to be carefully unpicked.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: The Big Lottery Fund, Glasgow and Community Safety Services, Revolution Resource Recovery Ltd, Social Enterprise Academy, Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, The Melting Pot,
EVENTS: Fringe Bruncheon Special! featuring the Sound of Muesli, 10 Aug; Wiff Waff Wednesday, 28 Aug; Sleepless ’til Seattle – illustrated adventure talk, 30 Aug; Out of the Blue Flea Market, 31 Aug;

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: The 2013 Social Enterprise Conference and Ceilidh will be our 9th since our first outing at New Lanark in 2005. As you may know, this year’s event is moving to the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld – 14th/15th November – a date for your diary! This is mainly down to space considerations. As well as the usual SEN members, we are also hoping to welcome members from Social Firms Scotland, Social Enterprise Scotland, Intermediary colleagues. We also hope to attract a number of public sector reps along. Booking forms will be available next week. Here’s our ‘draft’ programme – see,  For more Networks News, see

The most successful European football league at present – is probably the German Bundesliga; teams like Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are riding high. You may not be aware that a condition of membership of the Bundesliga is that clubs must be 51% owned by their fan base – they must ‘de facto’ be social enterprises. Given the appalling state of Scottish football – the Scottish Greens have proposed an amendment to the forthcoming Community Empowerment Bill – that supporters trusts should get first refusal to buy their clubs if they are put up for sale. See,

It’s disgraceful that pay day loan spivs, like Wonga, are openly tolerated in modern Scotland – freely advertising their exploitation of desperation. Alex Salmond says that an independent Scotland will regulate money-lending – which is good to know; but Labour’s Kez Dugdale make an excellent point – there are measures which our Govt could, and should, be taking now.  See,

Drove through Lanark last week – depressing array of empty and underused buildings.  All across Scotland there are successful examples of how social enterprises have used empty premises to increase the footfall – vitality – of our High Streets.  Maria Ashley at Firstport is looking for help to draw all this learning together – to help replicate what works.  See,  Meanwhile in England this week, the planning minister Nick Boles has published, for consultation, a raft of “town centre first” planning proposals.  They are designed to make ‘change of use’ much easier – so that buildings which are already there can convert to housing – or service provision by social enterprises etc.  See,

This week’s bulletin profiles Scotland’s only Cable Wakeboard Park – Foxlake Adventures – which just happens to be a social enterprise. Located 25 miles east of Edinburgh, on the edge of the John Muir Park, Foxlake Adventures is run by and for the local community, providing a range adventure sports within their 100 acre site. They intend to continue to developing the site in a sustainable manner – and provide training, employment learning, physical activity for both local residents and visitors alike. Foxlake has also recently received an investment from Social Investment Scotland (SIS) which has allowed them to building of a second wakeboarding cable tow – creating a number of new jobs for full time and seasonal staff.  See,

I’ve become friendly with an old grey mare called Sally – who lives near me. It makes me ponder about the relationship between us and other animals; This moving poem does the same (the reference to Homer is not the Simpsons).  ‘The Horses’ by Michael Longley.

“For all the horses butchered on the battlefield, shell-shocked, tripping over their own intestines, drowning in the mud – the best war memorial is in Homer: two horses that refuse to budge despite threats and sweet-talk and the whistling whip, unmovable as a tombstone, their heads drooping in front of the streamlined motionless chariot, hot tears spilling from their eyelids on to the ground because they are still in mourning for Patroclus, their charioteer, their shiny manes bedraggled under the yoke pads on either side of the yoke.”

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210