Senscot Bulletin: 11.01.13

Dear members and friends,

4th January 2013. Ronda, Andalusia.
 An hour into the mountains, behind the Costa del Sol – sits the ancient fortress town of Ronda – where I’m spending the festive break.  My hotel – the Queen Victoria – on the edge of a great ravine – was a favourite of Reiner Maria Rilke – who made extended visits here.  He wrote "I have sought everywhere the city of my dreams – and finally found it in Ronda.  There is nothing in the whole of Spain more startling than this wild and mountainous town."
 We’ve had a week of clear blue skies and bright sunshine; at this altitude the mountain air can be very cold but the Andalusian light is spectacular – ‘it restoreth my soul’.  Snug in my winter coat – each day I wander the cobbled alleys of the old town – a marvellous jumble of centuries and cultures.  Tapas in a 14c convent – previously 12c Moorish palace – windows set over a 100 metre gorge – awesome.
 Been spending some time with the heroic spirit of Rilke – sitting in the very room where once he worked – looking out over majesterial mountain ranges.  He wrote: "most experiences are unsayable – they happen a in space that no word has ever entered;" yet his legacy belies this – I find his words about what it’s like to be human – among the most inspiring in literature.  Here is a seasonal greeting from the man himself "and now we welcome the new year – full of things that have never been."  May Senscot’s many friends have a great 2013.

Many people may be unaware – that by far the biggest chunk of welfare spending in the UK – is on elderly people; aged 72 – I suppose that’s me.  Whatever your view on ‘austerity’ – the govt. fuelled pandemic of hate against ‘scroungers’ is both vile and stupid – deliberately stoking hostility towards the weakest.  Looking towards 2013, the battalions of the third sector will increasingly engage with front line poverty – around crisis food and fuel; but equally – what defines our work – is helping to give voice to the powerless.  No broad based citizen organising has yet ignited in Scotland – but several alliances are scoping the landscape.  The Tory owned press willingly spreads contempt for the poor.  This Owen Jones piece in the Independent makes some telling counterpoints.

Just before the festive break – the Dept. of Health (DOH) in England – issued the first ever detailed definition of social enterprise for legislative purposes (Les Huckfield’s excellent website provides detailed background). Alongside the legal models we all recognise – (CIC, SCIO, charities etc.) – the minister appears to have left a door open – to allow private firms to define themselves as SEs – for the purpose of winning service contracts.  The DOH claims that its definition is ‘aligned’ with the main English SE intermediaries – which, if true, is very disappointing. 
Lucy Findlay – from English SE Mark – says that the new definition’s failure to insist on ‘independence’ – means that SEs could be created as ‘sham’ front for private firms or public bodies.  Senscot fears that the Mark and SEUK left the door open some time ago (when we withdrew from the Mark) and that the fox is now in the chicken run.

A reader sent "Top 10 reasons to be worried about social impact bonds" – by James Clancy – president of one of Canada’s largest labour organisations.  Anyone reading this piece – will find it difficult to still believe that SIBs are in the public interest – or indeed that they have any chance of being adopted.  The emperor has no clothes. See,

Its some years now since I met social entrepreneur Carmen McConnell – founder of Magic Breakfast – loved the simplicity of her idea; at ‘poorer’ schools – children arrive unfed – too hungry to learn; so – let’s feed them.  From the media this week – there is evidence that her idea is being picked up by education authorities across the UK.  Watch this one spread.

Social Investment Scotland (SIS) is seeking to recruit a Chairman – to replace Alf Young – who has indicated he will step down early 2013.  They are also looking to recruit 3 board members – to help provide a strategic input.  More info

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Transition Extreme Sports Limited, The Surefoot Effect CIC, Passage from India, Youth Football Scotland, Loganle Pitstop
EVENTS: Intro – What is social enterprise?, 29 Jan; Engaging Communities on Energy and Climate Change, 31 Jan; Getting your message across, 6 Feb; Diploma in Training and Development, 28 Feb;

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Social Enterprise Academy and Senscot are delighted to offer SEN members subsidised places on two programmes coming up in March. Preparing for the Procurement Process (PPP) assesses your organisation’s readiness to bid for and win tenders. You will develop the confidence to approach the tendering process by looking at successful tenders and techniques for proving your organisation’s value, see  
As the social enterprise landscape changes are you ready to work with others to survive? The Partnership for Enterprise programme will ensure that you and your team is well placed to use your networks and assets in collaboration with others, see  For more Networks news see,

The Scottish Community Alliance – (15 national and regional networks with community membership) has been granted use of the Scottish Parliament – its main chamber and all of the committee rooms.  They have been afforded this unusual privilege to host a major Scotland wide event – The Future Is Local- later this year.  Part of the event programme will consider the new draft Community Empowerment Bill.  See

Of its nature – the wee local shop – is a marginal economic venture; increasingly these vital community resources are being saved from closure through local ownership – often based on voluntary operation.  Scotland’s Community Retailing Network (CRN) – the main source of help – has just merged with the excellent Plunkett Foundation; the new Plunkett Scotland is now recruiting for a second member of staff to help Kirsty McColl.

The Aberdeen Foyer – one of Scotland’s iconic social enterprises – has decided to refocus on its core business; the provision of supported tenancies for young people across seven sites around Aberdeen.  Sadly the new forward plan involves the closure of the Foyer restaurant – which since 1999 has, for many people, been the public face of the organisation.  CEO Ken Milroy says "while we are sad the restaurant is closing – the Foyer has always been forward looking – and we plan to use the building to expand our core activities."

Recently we circulated RedPepper Mag’s Mythbuster about welfare claimants.  Here’s their Mythbuster about asylum seekers.

Reachout With Arts In Mind is an innovative arts and mental health project based in Alloa with 19 years experience of working with, listening, and responding to people with mental health issues.  Reachout has now developed social enterprise The Makers Gallery & Bistro to both meet peoples needs and become sustainable beyond increasingly vulnerable grant funding.  The Big Lottery Fund granted an award to fund 4 new posts and overheads over a 5 year period 2012-2017.  See more,

From ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ by Reiner Maria Rilke.
 "How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.  Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest being, something helpless that wants help from us – wants our love."

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