Senscot Bulletin: 09.11.12

Dear members and friends,

In 1989, I spent 5 weeks in the USA – looking at community development in 5 states; glimpses of their presidential election this week – revived impressions of that visit. I found racism in the US jarring – but it was the polarisation of rich and poor which shocked me; the naked ferocity of redneck America – where any kind of social democracy – like healthcare – is held to degrade the moral fibre of the nation. Made me appreciate Scotland – where Tea Party republicans are regarded alongside the monster raving loony party.
 My week in St Louis was with a group of black neighbourhood women – who had reclaimed their estate (Cochrane Gardens) from drug dealers; I’m talking about dodging bullets – these were ‘tough broads’. Their leader, Bertha Gilkey, made a huge impression – told me: "Poor folks can do anything you folks can do – we just need to be shown. So don’t come to do stuff for us – show us how to do it for ourselves."  It was them who showed me.
 Twenty years have passed – Obama himself was a community organiser – his party has developed networks deep into these neighbourhoods – which get the vote out; but maybe winning the election is no longer enough. There is a perception that US politics is broken – that the superwealthy elite will use Congress to defy the will of the people – make the country ungovernable. Scary stuff.

Laurence’s new book is now available. To order a copy or copies, see
The Scottish Govt is consistently supportive of our third sector – but it always irritates me that our funding needs to be justified in terms of ‘growing the economy’; surely the economy is only one of the factors which contribute to a higher purpose – societal wellbeing. Typically folk choose the third sector from concern for the needy – social justice – environmental protection – local democracy etc; benefit to the economy is a welcome by-product. A new discussion paper from Scottish Environmental Link makes this very point; makes a strong plea for a shift in emphasis in Govt’s core purpose – from sustainable economic growth to sustainable wellbeing. The paper argues that we need to adopt better ways of defining what success means for society. See,

Every year around 500 people subscribe to this bulletin – and roughly half that number unsubscribe; most of the latter are changing jobs – but some don’t like what they read – like this one: "I’m fed up with Laurence’s narrow-minded prejudices – especially comments about Price Waterhouse Cooper." PwC is one of a number of giant outsourcing companies – currently pitching to replace our public sector in service provision. Their values and behaviours bear no resemblance to social enterprise; and their attempts to improve image by branding alongside our sector are disingenuous and damaging to our reputation. If you wish to express a contrary view, we’ll print it. See,

It’s to be applauded – that this week, the Scottish Govt committed to the new recommended rate for the ‘Living Wage’ – at £7.45 per hour. From next April, public sector workers will benefit; private businesses will decide for themselves what’s in their best interest; but the ‘living wage’ issue raises difficult questions for our third sector – which we should discuss openly. Lots of community enterprises literally keep people alive – but are just clinging on financially – what should they do? See,

As most people now realise – Big Society Capital’s overarching aim is to make a profit – so it’s only interested in third sector activities which can pay the requisite interest rates – both wholesale and retail. The UK third sector wants to know why BSC’s money is so expensive – the terms on which it gets its funds – the overhead of the organisation. This inherent tension is once again evident in the current disagreement between BSC boss Nick O’Donohoe and the CDFIs – which lend to people whom banks have refused. The CDFA wants a loan guarantee fund – to cover their 5%-10% default rate; BSC wants them to charge higher interest rates. See,

205 residents of Scalpay (78% of the population) gathered in the village hall on Tuesday – to vote overwhelmingly to take ownership of their island. Scalpay’s population has halved in recent years – the school closed in June. If the natives are minded to invite new settlers – I’d have thought they’ll find great interest. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: GalGael Trust, Locavore Community Interest Company, Article 12, Youth Football Scotland Ltd, Scottish Environment LINK, Routes to Work South, Royal Caledonian Curling Club
EVENTS: Bruncheon! featuring The Sound of Muesli, 10 Nov; Health, Wealth & Social Enterprise, 14 Nov; WIFF! WAFF! WEDNESDAYS, 14 Nov; 30th Anniversary Events, 14 Nov
TENDERS: Recently added tenders include Guidance for Scottish Public Authorities on the use of Public Procurement to advance equality in Scotland from the EHRC and Provision of a Cycle to Work Scheme in Ayrshire. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Thursday’s Ceilidh is now sold out for those wishing to stay over. There are a few ‘day delegate’ places still available. At this year’s event we will be joined by a delegation from Northern Ireland who, the following week (20th Nov), will be launching their own social enterprise network organisation – Social Enterprise NI. Senscot and the Social Enterprise Academy are part of their consortium and will be offering our support as best we can. That apart, the programme follows its regular pattern – but with new themes. Amongst areas for discussion will be: Senscot and the SENs; SE and Interfaces; Procurement – opportunities and barriers; the SE support ‘pipeline’. See full programme,   For more Networks News, see

The Social Enterprise Exchange is taking place on 21st March 2013 at the SECC in Glasgow. Remember – early bird places (from £50) are currently available. See,  One of the big successes of last year was the SE supply chain – with 25 social enterprises involved in the provision of catering, printing, delegate bags, promotion, social media, recycling etc. It’s hoped to exceed that figure this year. If you’d like to be involved, see

Wish I’d gone to Manchester last week – to the Co-operative’s United event – a major gathering of 10,000 co-operators from around the world – must have been inspiring. Good piece from the Guardian catches the upbeat vibe. See,  A fringe meeting at the Conference about football; co-hosted by Supporters Direct – looked at how the co-operative model could put clubs on a more stable financial footing; is this an option for the Jambos? Wish Hibs was owned by fans. See,  During the Conference – Dan Gregory (Founder of Common Capital) was announced as the winner of the Ethical Consumer 2012 essay prize. His piece – "Is there a co-operative alternative to capitalism?" – is one of the best I’ve read on the subject. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles Cantraybridge – a rural skills training college for young adults with a learning disability. Based in Croy, near Inverness, Cantraybridge provides rural based vocational training – in horticulture, agriculture, estate maintenance /woodwork, bird rearing including small animal care and also Basic Adult Education and computer IT skills. They are currently building their own café that will operate as a social enterprise, supporting the work of the college. For more, see

"The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do." – Henry Moore (English Sculptor).

"This life is yours. Take power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No-one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy." – Susan Polis Schutz (American Poet).

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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