Senscot Bulletin 11.06.10

Dear members and friends,

It’s nearly 8 years since I gave up alcohol – I sense that the folk who still ask if I miss it are often themselves considering ‘the pledge’.  I answer truthfully – that it’s not the occasional pint, or glass of Rioja that I crave – it’s the experience of being blootered – smashed.  By the time I stopped – drinking had become the deliberate, determined numbing of painful feelings – fear, sadness etc. Unless we identify what we are afraid of, we risk being afraid of everything – and I’m also learning to befriend my sadness – as legitimate a part of me as any; being sober has benefits.  But I have to admit that living with myself continuously is wearing – I miss the occasional respite of going on the razzle.
  Although I can’t drink any more, I have many happy memories of episodes in my life enriched by social drinking; a recent conversation reminded me of the Cairns Bar sessions of 1974.  A bunch of us were setting-up Panmure House in Edinburgh – a kind of ‘super youth club’.  Much of it was made up ‘on the hoof’ – but there was great enthusiasm and generosity – lots of good work being done with fairly wild youngsters.  5pm Fridays we took the upstairs room in Cairns Bar (gone now) – friends joined us – the drink and the craic flowing – intense debate – great camaraderie – memorable sessions.  I was 34 – life was something you dominated if you were any good – unlimited potential – there for the taking. And we thought they would last forever – those fond remembered days – when we were kings.

The main agenda, of course, is to replace the public sector with the private but, in my judgement, the UK Govt’s ‘Big Society’ thing will continue to gather momentum; They’re serious about this – a huge expansion of activity/responsibility at community level.  Community empowerment is a devolved matter but a low priority for Scottish Govt – it `s so called `Action Plan` lacks conviction – a missed opportunity. There is no sign that anyone up here – politicians or officers – understands that the rules of the game are about to change.  As well as resisting cuts, we need to make the best of what we’ve got.  As the Local People Leading (LPL) Campaign says – Scotland needs an effective tier of organisations (anchor organisations) at community level to co-ordinate community action. It galls me to admit it but (as was the case with social enterprise) it looks like Scottish progress will depend on the slipstream from Whitehall.  Here`s what UK Govt is proposing.

Muhammad Yunus makes it perfectly clear that the purpose of a social business is to solve social problems – cover costs to be sustainable – but there can be no question of personal financial gain. He emphasises this point in a recent interview.  Visiting the USA this week, he has spoken out against investment funds which regard microfinance as a way to make a profit from the poor. “We started out with the idea of getting loan sharks out of people’s lives,” he said, “ now microfinance institutions are getting into the loan shark business.”

Senscot`s main interest in promoting a Social Enterprise Mark (SEM) was basically what Yunus is trying to do – keep out the chancers who are masquerading as part of our sector. Even though we have shelved the notion of an independent Scottish SEM (the Scottish Coalition came out against it), the five criteria defining a social enterprise have remained popular and are now posted on the homepage of our website. See

The concept of co-production re-defines the relationship between the helper and the helped – so that they become partners in a shared mission. I was introduced to the power of this idea through Edgar Cahn`s book “No more throw-away people” – delighted to see it expounded in a new report from think tank IPPR and Price Waterhouse Cooper. The report is called `Capable Communities – public service reform: The next chapter` and is obviously for Govt consumption.

Senscot has been involved in a number of initiatives over the years that have been designed to support the development and growth of social and community enterprises in Scotland. Our latest venture – Senscot Legal Services – has two primary objectives: to provide affordable and accessible legal services to the social enterprise community and; to enable Senscot to move towards financial independence. Having received funding through the Enterprise Fund, we’re delighted to announce that we have now appointed our Lead Solicitor – Alan Dunipace. Alan will be taking up post in the near future and will be operating out of new premises in Bath Street in Glasgow. For more info`, contact

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Social Firms Scotland, The Institute of Conservation, Foster Care Associates, Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People Project, Arthritis Care Scotland, Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire, Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone, Sustainable Scotland Network, Volunteer Centre East Dunbartonshire
EVENTS: Henry Duncan Bicentenary Conference, 9 Jun; Greyfriars Recycling of Wood – Display of Works, 11 June; DTA Scotland Annual Conference "Resilient Communities – Time for Action", 14 Jun; More Than Furniture 2010, 24 Aug;
TENDERS: Gaelic Two Day Short Course; Additional Work on Aigas Community Forest Business Plan; Digital Interpretation for Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Alba Innovation Centre – Incubation Services; 10/0004 Energy Efficiency Works to Residential Dwellings; Graduation Photography Services;

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: One of the key challenges for the social enterprise community is to make the breakthrough in accessing and winning both public and private sector contracts. ReadyforBusiness has been set up exactly to address this issue ( That’s why it’s great to hear about Glasgow SEN member, Unity Enterprise securing a two year contract for the on-site catering for McAlpine’s Ltd who are building the Velodrome for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. They go `on site` on 16th June and the contract will enable Unity to create 10 new jobs as well bringing in sessional staff. Congratulations to all at Unity. For more Networks News, see

Health SEN member, Clydesdale Community Initiatives, has been short-listed for the Lottery`s Best Health Project in the UK. Help a fellow SEN member by voting here,

The programme and booking forms for CEiS’s September Conference are now available. The event, titled `Next steps for social enterprise in Scotland`, brings together a number of familiar faces as well as new perspectives from international speakers. See details,

It’s fascinating to watch many of the established think tanks ducking and diving to accommodate themselves to the new UK Govt’s Big Society agenda.  But lots of good stuff is coming out including this report from DEMOS called `Civic Streets: The Big Society in Action`.  See Executive Summary,

This week’s bulletin profiles an emerging social enterprise, based in Leith, providing traditional Punjabi food. Sikh Sanjog was originally set up in 1989 to help Sikh women and their families access mainstream services. Over the last couple of years, they have established the new catering venture, initially with support from the Scottish Community Foundation and, more recently, through the Third Sector Enterprise Fund to provide training and start-up costs in its first year of operation. For more, see 

Quote from “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.  ‘‘If you feel called upon to alleviate suffering in the world, that is a very noble thing to do, but remember not to focus exclusively on the outer; otherwise, you will encounter frustration and despair.  Without a profound change in human consciousness, the world’s suffering is a bottomless pit.  So don’t let your compassion become one-sided.  Empathy with someone else’s pain or lack and a desire to help need to be balanced with a deeper realisation of the eternal nature of all life and the ultimate illusion of all pain.  Then let your peace flow into whatever you do and you will be working on the levels of effect and cause simultaneously.’’ 

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

Best wishes,


Subscribe to this bulletin:

To unsubscribe or change subscription address/ e-mail