Senscot Bulletin: 11.02.11

Dear members and friends,

Watching the evening news – especially the Scottish bit – is becoming increasingly harrowing. A mother kills her children – rape in the park – stabbings – shootings. Who selects what we watch – does nothing good ever happen? The book I`m reading has a line – “acts so beyond kindness and love – that to be around them is ruinous.” When the news gets too upsetting I press the advance button to BBC 2 – Michael Portillo traipsing around the UK on trains….I`ve come to love it – I`m an addict – don’t bother with the news.
 Who could have imagined that this diffident Tory patrician could be such an amiable travel companion? His curiosity and enthusiasm for wee adventures along the way is truly infectious. The programme’s main theme – rail travel past and present – has its own powerful nostalgia for many of us `auld yins` – who remember steam engines. Holmes and Watson, consulting their Bradshaw’s Railway Companion for connections to remote outposts – John Betjeman`s campaigns to save obscure branch lines in his wee book, “Trains and Buttered Toast”. And of course our own rail journeys – real and imagined. The childhood jaunts to North Berwick with spades and pails – the art deco splendour of the Orient Express to Istanbul. I’m of an age now when I like to keep in touch with the national and world news – but don’t need a daily inventory of murder and mayhem. Portillo`s programme soothes me. I`ll get the DVD.

This week the Chairs of 13 of Scotland’s leading community networks co-signed an open letter (see below) announcing the launch of the Scottish Community Alliance – the outcome of nearly 2 years of patient work by the steering committee of the Local People Leading campaign.  Senscot takes the view that the Third Sector can be seen as 3 differentiated segments – the voluntary – the community – and social enterprise. The community sector has long been the poor relative – unacknowledged – under resourced.  The mission of the new Alliance is to sort that. See,

David Cameron’s Big Society initiative is coming under increasing pressure from critics – but I`m a solid supporter – because it’s the right direction of travel for social policy. Local people organising around issues they care about generally do it better than the Council – good for democracy too.  During my 30 years as a community worker, central Scotland was a one party Labour state – an arrogant municipalist junta – where independent community action was routinely discouraged – sometimes crushed.  Cameron, saw the true value of this territory – and simply stole it – good luck to him.  He is determined to put local empowerment at the heart of govt. policy – and the ripples of this may even reach central Scotland.  This is a Res Publica blog on the shifting centre of British Politics.

The main conduit for funding the third sector is via our Councils – all currently squirming with the pain of next year’s budget. The long anticipated cuts are starting to be quantified and it’s clear that some services, provided by community organisations, will be curtailed – or even terminated. Some Senscot readers who don’t get out and about much, may appreciate this short documentary film which visits 7 projects in the Pilton/Granton area of Edinburgh – it gives a feel of the immediacy of the frontline. See

The extent to which individual Councils engage with the Third Sector in the delivery of services is rightfully their own choice.  But the Decentralisation minister Greg Clark, has written to all Council leaders in England announcing that he expects them to publish their spending on the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector – all grants, payments and copies of contracts.  In the interests of transparency, Scottish Govt would do well to follow this example.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Engender, Lendrick Lodge, Church House, Bridgeton (Glasgow), Parent Action for Safe Play, Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition, Carr-Gomm Scotland, Cornerstone
EVENTS: Cash Flow Planning workshop, 8 Feb; Highlands & Islands Celebration Event, 11 Feb; Climate Change Effective Communication, 17 Feb; 1 Day Deaf Awareness Course, 25 Feb;
TENDERS: Supply of Electrical Equipment and Consumables; Rural Grass Cutting & Weed Control Service; Screening, Crushing & Recycling of Inert Material; Property Security Service Term Contract

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Further update on Third Sector Interfaces (TSI). This week, the Scottish Govt website listed the `framework documents` for Interface activity in each local authority area ( These provide a snapshot of approaches being adopted across the country – with some already specifying percentage of their budgets allocated to social enterprise development (see, ). Where SENs do not yet exist, Senscot will be contacting TSIs directly to encourage full engagement with local social enterprises. If we can be of any help, please let us know. For more Networks News, see

Senscot’s annual appeal for donations is about half way there (see 2011 list). Quite apart from the money your indications of support are much appreciated.

Scottish Govt has published its consultation report on the future of regeneration. Chapter 3 is about community lead regeneration – which made me feel alternately encouraged and enraged. This probably means that the report is a good stimulus for debate. See,

Feb 28th is deadline for final claims to be submitted for the Third Sector Enterprise Fund. Scottish Govt`s Third Sector Division say a significant number of claims remain outstanding. They are stressing that, in view of the high volume of awards, there is no guarantee that late claims can be paid as the funding must be expended in this financial year.  So the message is – get your claims in pronto.

Our piece last week on Housing Associations and their ability to incubate social enterprises was a bit misleading. Wider Role funding itself has not dried up and, in fact, has secured £6m for 2011/12 – despite significant cuts to the housing and regeneration budgets. What we didn’t make clear enough was that the rules governing Wider Role changed in 2008 to preclude its use for incubating start-ups

One of the fastest expanding social enterprise areas of activity in Scotland is food – growing – bulk purchasing – distributing food.  Activists in this field will want to get hold of a recent report – ‘Our Mutual Food’ – which moves from the global impact of the food system, to the possibilities of developing a more sustainable system in a particular region (Fife).  Here’s a short summary.

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Alloa, set up to grow and expand the work of Ludgate Church Volunteers in support of homeless people in their community. Gate Enterprises will provide a range of services that include management and administration support; Project Management; Facilities and Event Management; and supported employment initiatives. Income generated through these activities will support the work of the Gate Charity such as their community café; drop in centre; and other activities. For more, see

John Maynard Keynes believed that capitalism would not survive if it functioned merely to enable the wealthy to get wealthier. 
“Instead of using their vastly increased material and technical resources to build a wonder city, the men of the nineteenth century built slums… [which] on the test of private enterprise, ‘paid,’ whereas the wonder city would, they thought, have been an act of foolish extravagance, which would, in the imbecile idiom of the financial fashion, have ‘mortgaged the future’… The same rule of self-destructive financial calculation governs every walk of life.  We destroy the beauty of the countryside because the un-appropriated splendors of nature have no economic value.  We are capable of shutting off the sun and the stars because they do not pay a dividend…. Once we allow ourselves to be disobedient to the test of an accountant’s profits, we have begun to change our civilisation.”

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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