Senscot Bulletin: 09.12.11

Dear members and friends,

Story from a reader this week – about a ‘distinguished’ Ugandan visitor – telling a conference how surprising he finds it – that people in the UK routinely tell old folk that they look younger. In his country, he said, this would be insulting – because growing old is something to be admired. I really like this story – because it illustrates the widespread taboo in ‘developed’ cultures around aging and death. Our collective denial.
 Personally, I feel mostly at peace with becoming an old person; with luck my mental and physical health will remain sound for a few years – then I’ll die – hopefully with minimal fuss. I don’t find this prospect depressing and I’d like to the able to discuss it normally. This next bit of my life is very interesting to me – mellow fruitfulness – full of new insights – but I can’t get anyone to listen to them.
 During the past year, I’ve noticed changes in the experience of being me. Incremental dilapidation of course – boring – but the interesting changes are psychological / spiritual; more stillness – a shifting of priorities – more acceptance – of the benign indifference of the universe. So if we bump into each other – at some festive bash – and I start telling you about this stuff – please remember that I’m working on my Ugandan mind set – wearing oldness with pride – so I won’t welcome being told that I look younger than my years.

In launching the Social Business Initiative last month, the European Commission has made a remarkably strong commitment to Social Enterprise (SE). Talk in Brussels is of creating an ‘ecosystem’, to support SE at National, Regional and Local levels. In 2007, Scottish Government put in place (and funded) an impressive SE Strategy – creating ‘a national pipeline of support’ – which works well. Unfortunately, at Regional and Local levels in Scotland – it still very much depends where you live – i.e. the policy of the local authority – the functionality of the Third Sector Interface. But almost everywhere the voice of SE is getting stronger – and having Europe joining the chorus – can only help. See,

I enjoyed Michael Roy’s letter in last Friday’s Third Force News – restating Muhammad Yunus’ position – that the defining characteristic of a SE is it’s asset lock. The necessity for a definition, he says, is ‘that there are a number of organisations which describe themselves as SE’s but are frankly nothing of the sort’. See, The availability of fiscal benefits and soft funding etc. – make the adoption of a legal definition of SE inevitable. The arrival of Europe into this arena adds momentum. Senscot is collecting feedback and suggestions from Draft 2 of the Voluntary Code of Practice. Draft 3 expected during January. See,

The late Labour MP Peter Shore, observed in the 1990’s – that John Smith might not be the ideal UK leader – because he was ‘too Nordic to understand southern greed". In the ensuing 20 years, Scotland has created a social democratic consensus – Shore may have been right. I enjoyed this piece by Lesley Riddoch – where she plays with the idea that philosophically and politically the Scots are closer to the Nordic nations. See,

Surveys indicate that money worries in the UK are at the highest levels ever recorded – with an estimated 3 million people now resorting to ‘pay day loans’ – that charge sky high interest rates. This unregulated, predatory lending has expanded into a £2bn industry – £2bn from our poorest and most desperate citizens. There is clearly a real need for the service – and therefore an opportunity for social enterprises, like credit unions, to move into this market; but as a way of helping rather than crushing people. See,

The Fife Diet (FD) – now in its 4th year – has grown to an organisation of some 2000 members – the largest project of its kind in Europe. Following its AGM in Kinghorn in Fife on 12th November – the FD hosted an international conference looking at some of the inequalities around food consumption and production. Called ‘Food Revolt’ – the conference was a sell out – 200 delegates – testimony that the food movement is on the march. See,
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See This week:
JOBS: Smile Child Care – Cook, The National Trust for Scotland – Major Donor Officer, Dundee Social Enterprise Network – Development Officer
EVENTS: Portobello Transition Town & Afternoon Twee: Christmas Markets, CEiS, Social Enterprise Scotland, SEUK: The Social Enterprise Exchange, 27 March, Just Enterprise: Leading Growth Leadership Programmes, Feb 12
TENDERS: The Black Watch Museum Redevelopment, Supply and installation of vinyl flooring, Environmental and Greenspace Activity and Provision of a Cafe, Plant & Gift Sales and Hospitality Services in Dundee

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS) has produced a ‘Funding Distribution Proposal’ for consultation with all local Interfaces. The document sets out proposed funding levels for each Interface (TSIs). It is based on a number of key principles, the first of which is that "a review of the distribution can only take place in an environment where there is an increase in the total funding to support TSIs"  SENs who wish to give feedback/comments should do so asap to their local Interface. VAS’ deadline for comments is Friday 13th Jan 2012 – and they’re only accepting one response per Interface. See,
For more Networks News, see

Scotland’s first MSc in Social Enterprise gets underway in Feb 2012. The course, co-developed by the Social Enterprise Academy and Glasgow Caledonian University, is offering 6 bursaries (£500) to social entrepreneurs working with smaller, grassroots organisations – they are particularly keen to engage with social entrepreneurs who are setting up a social enterprise or leading one with limited financial resources. For more, see

The UK’s first urban, community-owned wind turbine – on the Seafield Waste Water Treatment Site in Leith –  is a step closer this week when two Edinburgh-based community groups won a public vote, organised by Portobello Transition Town (Pedal) and Greener Leith beat off competition from almost 1,000 community renewable projects and will be awarded funds (circa £50k) to complete feasibility work on the wind turbine (), which is expected to go to planning permission during 2012. See more,

Triodos` Scottish operation moved last month into new city centre premises at 24, Hanover St, Edinburgh. The move reflects their growing presence in Scotland that has seen them double their lending over the last three years to £49m. See more, .

This week’s bulletin profiles a Dumfries and Galloway SEN member that provides a range of training in the fields of health and social care. Care Training Consortium, based in Dumfries, deliver short course, bespoke training and SVQs to over 100 care/support/third sector organisations and local businesses. They have developed partnerships with the local Council as well as other public agencies such as Fire and Police Service and the NHS. Last week they launched their new website. See more,

Norman MacCaig’s ‘Praise of a Collie’ is both tender and shocking. It captures the inescapable reality of things – how we are all part of a great system of sacrifice and mutuality – the tragic grandeur of it.

"She was a small dog, neat and fluid – even her conversation was tiny: She greeted you with bow, never bow-wow. Her sons stood monumentally over her but did what she told them. Each grew grizzled till it seemed he was his own mother’s grandfather. Once, gathering sheep on a showery day, I remarked how dry she was. Pollochan said, "Ah, it would take a very accurate drop to hit Lassie." She sailed in the dinghy like a proper sea-dog. Where’s a burn? – she’s first on the other side. She flowed through fences like a piece of black wind. But suddenly she was old and sick and crippled…I grieved for Pollochan when he took her a stroll and put his gun to the back of her head."

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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