Senscot Bulletin: 10-0802007

Dear members and friends,

Domestic emergency – no-one else available – I’m babysitting 4 year old Lucy. Mum drops her off – “I’ll only be 3 hours – she’s got a touch of diarrhoea – she’ll be alright.” Panic – no-one mentioned diarrhoea! When we’re alone Lucy says, “I’ve had 4 poos today – how many have you had?” Keep my voice casual – “4 – gosh that’s a lot – I’ve not had any.” This sounds spoilsport, so I add, “I’ve had 4 tinkles though.” Smiles, “4 tinkles – gosh that’s a lot.” – Rapport.
 I’m reading – the bairn is drawing, when a bird hits the window with a sickening thump – outside we find a small chaffinch – dead. Lucy upset, starts crying – so we act out an elaborate funeral – bury the mite tenderly among marigolds. Then we spend the next hour talking very thoughtfully about death and separation. George Elliot wrote, “If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing grass grow and the squirrel’s heartbeat – and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.” At one level a four year old child is an untamed savage – but for this very reason their responses are more immediate than ours; beginner’s mind; Lucy has not yet learned to blank the death of a chaffinch.
 Mum returns – joyful hugs – the bairn says, “Laurence had 5 tinkles today.” Mum smiles to me, “Wee people and older people are less inhibited talking about their bodies.” “We’re also less inhibited talking about death” I reply. She gives me a funny look. (You can browse Bulletin intros here:  

The Scottish Executive’s official relationship with the Third Sector is set out in the 2005 “Vision of the Voluntary Sector”. Clause six summarises the 4 key areas of support as; delivering services; strengthening communities; developing policy; innovating. Things have moved on since 2005. The term voluntary sector now denotes a subdivision of the Third Sector. Social Enterprise has a strategy of its own. Even the third leg, the community sector, can begin to find its own voice, released from the grip of municipal Labour. It would be fitting if our minister, John Swinney, would now refresh our Scottish vision. The recent Treasury review of the UK sector adds value and ‘modernises’ the outlook – particularly the championing of ‘anchor organisations’ and the reinforcement of the sector’s role in campaigning.

Senscot is trying to follow the reconfiguration of the Scottish civil service as it relates to the Third Sector but it’s clear that the dust hasn’t settled yet. As far as we can gather there is now a Scottish Executive Third Sector Team split into two sections – see Social Enterprise will be losing Ian Mitchell in September but we’ve still got Roddy MacDonald and most of his team. It seems unfortunate that the whole community empowerment end of our work will not be part of the new set up but remain separate with Alisdair McKinley’s team at Communities Scotland.

David Cameron wrote an article this week saying: “Social Enterprise is the great institutional innovation of our time.” One has to smile. Like many bulletin readers, I was involved with community enterprises throughout the ‘70s,’80s and ‘90s. This doesn’t detract from our enjoyment of the present boom and there has probably never been a better climate for the expansion of the social economy. But a word of caution: so far a lot of it is just talk – too many people preening themselves. Behind the babble – it’s still difficult to gauge how much real business is being done.

Gordon Brown’s Third Sector review was well received but much of the £515m package is the reiteration of previous commitments. Among the ‘new bits’ was £50m for ‘local independent foundations’ which most people assume means the UK’s 60 community foundations. As far as I’m aware, Scotland only has one of these – the Scottish Community Foundation – which is unfortunate because part of the strength of the idea is the energy which local ownership can unleash. Will this new seed money bring forth a new crop with local roots?

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: 16 vacancies, incl. posts with: EKOS,  Spruce Carpets, Edinburgh Cyrenians, Project Ability , Scottish Executive, One World Shop, Big Lottery Fund, Scottish Parliament, Soil Association Scotland

EVENTS: 14 events, incl. The Ecology Centre Summer Festival, Craigencalt, 19 Aug; Public Social Partnership conference, Glasgow; 29 Aug; Social Enterprise Business Models Conference, Glasgow, 4 Sept; FEAT Mental Health First Aid Training, Fife, 29-30 Nov;

Mel Young, our former chair, was one of the founders of the Homeless World Cup back in 2002. Mel always said that this was our best chance of becoming world champions. He was right. With 48 countries taking part in Copenhagen, Scotland came out tops.

Jon Molyneux, formerly with the our Social Enterprise Coalition and now with North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, has been appointed Scottish Editor of Social Enterprise magazine. Jon will also be contributing to the Herald Society and is on the lookout for good strories. His contact is

Good piece in Third Sector magazine this week about the growing trend which sees chunks of the public sector – councils and NHS Trusts – converting themselves into social enterprises and competing unfairly with smaller community-based providers. “A diverse, efficient, innovative sector risks being dominated by quasi-governmental monoliths rife with public sector culture.” That’s fighting talk.

This week the bulletin profiles Glasgow based Community InfoSource is a Scottish-based Community Interest Company (CIC) working mainly, though not exclusively, with minority ethnic, refugee and migrant communities. Set up in June 2006, Community InfoSource provides a range of services including administrative, training and skills development, housing support and research. The organisation was set up by a group of individuals from very different backgrounds working together for a more inclusive Scotland.

I enjoy the ‘Scottishness’ which William McIlvanney espouses.

“Scotland was born poor. There are two main ways to react to poverty. One is to fall in love with money since that is what you do not have. The other is to generate values beyond the economic, since otherwise you acknowledge your own inferiority. No matter how much money Andrew Carnegie made, he couldn’t forget that he came from a place where a person wouldn’t be measured by the weight of the wallet but by the quality of the humanity. When Burns wrote A Man’s A Man, he was doing more than creating a song. He was locating and preserving the DNA of Scottishness – a belief in equality beyond any limitation of class, status or wealth. It was appropriate that it was sung at the opening of our parliament. The essential Scottishness, of course, is not a matter of purity of blood. It is an amalgam of all people who have come to live here. European, Asian, South American, whatever. Scottishness is not a pedigree lineage, it’s a mongrel tradition.” (Browse bulletin end bits here:

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

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available See: