Senscot Bulletin: 11.04.14

Dear members and friends,

           Margo MacDonald has been much in my thoughts since last Friday – and in a week where everyone has a Margo story – here’s mine.  It was in the early ‘80s – during one of her periodic expulsions from the SNP – when journalism would pay the rent. She was researching a piece about the drugs culture – someone told her – that with mutual trust – I could connect her to an inside track. The trust question lasted about one minute – I had never met anyone so transparently honest; that she became Scotland’s most trusted politician was no surprise.
          Clearly extroverted – Margo was known to like a blether; her type of keen intellect was equally at home discussing complex philosophical/moral questions – or the latest reversals of Hibernian Football Club. She was overheard asking Princess Di what mascara she used – like it was some woman she met at the shops; that was our Margo.
          The governance of the UK is in the grip of a culture far removed from its people; private schools, Oxbridge – a self-perpetuating elite – deeply compromised by the interests of big business. Margo symbolises, for me, the opposite of this; a Scottish socialist – who proudly championed the interests of ordinary working people. I was looking forward to living under a Scottish Govt – watched over by this uncompromising warrior for social justice. I now feel a sense of personal loss which I did not anticipate; a great, generous spirit has left our world – and I, for one, can’t imagine when we’ll see her likes again. 

We still have copies of Laurence’s book ‘Kindness’; a selection of Bulletin intros from 2007 – 2012. See,

Although their numbers are diminishing – there are still those who want the term ‘social enterprise’ to embrace certain businesses established for private profit. Senscot holds to the position that a true SE is asset-locked – that profit must be re-invested in either the business or its social purpose; we also believe that SE UK’s fifty/fifty policy fudges the issue. From 6th April, a new tax relief of 30% is available to individuals who invest in SEs; for the purpose of this bill – an SE must be regulated – which means a charity; a CIC; or a Community Benefit Society. Now that the Treasury has taken such a clear position – I wonder if the efforts to blur the boundaries between social and private enterprise will end. I wouldn’t bet on it; other UK Govt departments are pulling in the opposite direction.  See,

Last week saw the launch of Big Issue Invest Scotland (BIIS) – a new lender to Scotland’s third sector –
see, This week, Social Investment Scotland (SIS) announced the launch of its new £16m Social Growth Fund for Scotland (half from Scottish Govt – half from Big Society Capital) – see, Senscot welcomes all such funds – but we regard them as external to our sector – their arrival and departure beyond our control. Senscot, with others, is exploring the creation of a mutualised framework – wherein our sector’s own substantial reserves can be made available to develop our work. See,

Good USA site called ‘On the Commons’ – which promotes and protects those forms of wealth which belong to us all; the Commons embraces both the gifts of nature (our oceans, wildlife etc) and social creations (public spaces, the world wide web, artistic and scientific advances etc). I’m increasingly convinced that ‘the commons movement’ – is an important prism through which to view and talk about a more equitable and eco-friendly society; and to protect the common good from the excesses of markets and governments. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: EUSA, The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, 3D Drumchapel, Turning Point Scotland, BOLD (Community Enterprise) , Laggan Forest Trust, Community Enterprise, Beith CDT
EVENTS: Puppet Show – My City, 25 Apr; Northern Streams 2014 Festival of Music, Song & Dance, 26 Apr; Social Enterprise Introductory Workshop, 1 May; Learning to EATS, 30 May
TENDERS: Print and Associated Services, Scottish Government; Saughton Park Heritage Lottery Project, The City of Edinburgh Council; Feasibility and Business Planning, Skye and Lochalsh Mental Health Association; Recycling of Dry Recyclable Material, Inverclyde Council;

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Senscot and Social Firms Scotland (SFS) are in Warsaw this week at the EU Social Entrepreneurs’ Network (EU SEN). The theme is the Financial Eco-system for Social Entrepreneurship – with the aim of building an overall and mutual learning by participating member states. During the two day visit, members of the EU SEN are examining and discussing four case studies of best practice from Poland; Czech Republic; Sweden and Social Impact Bonds from England which stimulated a lot of discussion (see below). The final session today will make recommendations on future needs of social enterprises within the new programmes which takes account the different stages of social enterprise development across the EU. More next week.
For more SENs News, see

Although its promotional budget lingers on – I have come to regard the whole SIBS phenomenon as a spent force; it proved too cumbersome to be effective. The European SEN – to which Senscot will be contributing this week – will consider SIBS – with input from Toby Johnson. His short blog seems to support the Senscot position – that SIBS are ideologically motivated – a failed attempt to marketise services – which markets neither understand nor respect. See,

A couple of things to take note of: Social Enterprise Scotland (SES) is running its annual SE Policy survey. The survey is open to all Scottish SEs. See,  Also, the Melting Pot is holding two national conversations on how to meet the challenges and opportunities surrounding social innovation in Scotland. The findings of both events will inform Scottish Govt policy thinking ahead of preparations for a new wave of European Structural funding. First ‘conversation’ is in Inverness on 24th April. See details,

George Robertson made a fool of himself this week; my sense is that the more these staunch establishment figures denigrate independence – the more likely it becomes; we don’t like being patronised. What was he doing at Brookings anyway; word on the street is that if think tanks were countries – Brookings would have aircraft carriers. See

Only older readers will care – but Mickey Rooney has died, aged 93. I thought he was a much underrated actor – with amazing infectious energy. The film I most remember was the 1938 Boys Town; Spencer Tracey as Fr Flanagan – who believed there was no such thing as a bad boy; Rooney as Whitey Marsh – doing his best to prove him wrong. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that film influenced the career path of my life. See,

This week’s bulletin features a new social enterprise established by the Glasgow Centre for Integrated Living (GCIL) – the GCIL Equality Academy. The GCIL Equality is GCIL’s latest new venture. Its aim is to build on their existing employment programmes and services by combining an employment capacity building programme for disabled people with a consultancy, training, organisational development and market research facility. The service will be available across the private, public and third sectors. They will be showcasing their new range of services at their launch event later this month. For more, see

In Feb 1990 – Kenneth Roy met Margo MacDonald for dinner; in the excellent Scottish Review – he publishes this week an account of their conversation written at the time. This is a good quote from it.

“Margo MacDonald was an exceptionally able child. She was primary dux and won a place at Hamilton Academy, which was then a selective school for the cream of the neighbourhood. She bought the school blazer – a boy’s one, almost down to her knees – in a pawn shop.
‘It was drummed into us that we were brainy. We were schooled to think of ourselves as an elite. And that made me uneasy, because it was obvious that there was nothing elite about our family. I also knew that my pals at the baths, who were just as good as swimming as I was, and whose families were exactly the same as mine, went to junior Secondary’s. But they weren’t God’s chosen children. I was one of the lucky ones.’”

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