Senscot Bulletin: 12.03.10

Dear members and friends,

Its been raining on and off since I arrived in Spain 3 days ago –grim faced locals say its been like this since December – no-one can remember such weather; reservoirs overflowing – beaches gouged by watercourses sweeping all manner of debris to sea.  I found my (special offer) hotel on the internet – £40 half board – but it’s a disaster – deserted – should be shut.  My room is warm enough but the public areas are vast, dark and damp – with 50 ft ceilings, unheatable.  For meals I wear everything I’ve brought – including coat and woolly hat.  The waiter Miguel wears a scarf.
 I’m the only one for breakfast this morning – manger approaches looking nervous.  The hotel is to close for ‘urgent works’ – they’ve booked me into Hotel Selenza nearby (a luxury ‘pamper spa’ way beyond my means).  ”Who pays?” I ask. ”Is paid”, he replies.  Wow! What a result.  So I am now ensconced in serious designer comfort – and like a true Cinderella story, sunshine and blue skies have returned to the Costa.  To be honest though this place is a bit too posh for me – intimidating – feel like a scruff.  But down the hill there’s one of those dreadful enclaves of Little England – all day breakfast – Sky TV – Daily Mail – best bitter – the lot; where I can sit with my Guardian – slightly apart from the action – trying to feel superior.

Senscot has been around more or less since devolution – witness to the various mood swings of Scottish Govt’s relationship with the Third Sector.  With our own parliament, came a new style of openness – our members (creating the new social enterprise infrastructure) often remarked then, that they had never felt as close to govt.  Again, the arrival of the current Administration brought a fresh impetus to engage with civil society – but sadly this spirit seems spent.  One example is the issue of dormant bank accounts – what should happen to the £40m expected (altho’ the word is this could be down to £34m).   Meetings were held – consultation took place – but gradually govt officials moved on and the culture of dialogue has diminished. This is now one of a raft of decisions which seems to have passed to the private discretion of civil servants and politicians.  It takes energy to engage with citizens – govt. attempts are tentative – so they lapse.  Maybe these things don’t matter – but I think they do.

Many readers agree with myself – that there needs to be a radical expansion of the role of civil society in tackling the issues of our time.  For many months, a Commission of Inquiry into the future of Civil Society in the UK has been sitting (chair George Reid) and this Thursday will see the Scottish launch in Edinburgh of its report ‘Making Good Society’.  No charge – but you’ll need to book by Tuesday 16th March.

After many delays, Scottish Govt has announced the latest recipients of its Third Sector Enterprise Fund.  From 418 applications 169 have been successful – 249 declined.  Senscot’s proposal to establish a social enterprise legal practice is one of the winners – but we are well aware many of our friends have not been so lucky.

The part of the third sector which has been most shamefully neglected by successive Scottish Govt’s – is our community sector; thousands of (mostly small) organisations, indigenous to the community they serve.  The irony is that the very survival of many local services will depend on the motivation and confidence of these, mostly voluntary, citizens.  In the context of manifesto promises, the SNP`s commitment to community empowerment has been a sad disappointment.  The community sector now needs an investment in strategic infrastructure, comparable with the social enterprise sector in 2007.  Its time is now.

Senscot is currently running a poll on the preferred way forward for Scotland with regard to the Social Enterprise Mark. The options are; 1. That Scotland establishes its own independent version of the Mark with our own criteria. 2. That the current model is ‘good enough’ and Senscot should hand on this process to another organisation in Scotland to partner with London 3. That we step away – allowing the SEM company to operate the Mark directly from London. Just over 100 organisations have voted so far but we’re keen to get as many votes in as possible. You can vote by following the attached link or by going to our homepage. We intend publishing the results in next week’s bulletin. See

On the back of the support provided by Sportscotland and the Robertson Trust, interviews were held last Friday for the post of Social Enterprise and Sport Co-ordinator. As a result, we look forward to welcoming Diane Cameron to the Senscot team. Diane currently works with CEL and we’re sure the experience she has gained with Douglas & Co will serve her well in this new post. Here’s some background to Diane’s new role,

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: Social Firms Scotland, Children in Scotland, LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing, Ballater (RD) Ltd, The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, Transition Scotland Support, Easthall Residents Association,
EVENTS:  HISEZ Annual Conference, 26 Feb; Introduction to business planning and strategy & measuring social impact, 10 Mar; CRNS 5th Annual Conference, 17 Mar; DTAS & The Glasshouse Building Design Study Visits & Support, 20 Mar; Emerging Eritrea: Development Strategies and the Challenges of Nation Building, 20 Mar; Business Acquisition: Getting Ready to Buy, 24 Mar;

NETWORKS NEWS: Colin writes: The LSEN Model Rules have now been approved by both OSCR and the Financial Services Authority (FSA). This legal structure has specifically been developed for Local/Thematic SENs. By adopting the Model Rules, SENs become co-operatives and, at the same time, have charitable status! A couple of SENs are gearing up to take advantage of the new Model Rules by downloading them from our site and paying £40 to register. We’ll be developing a `Companion Document` which should be ready soon. If you have any questions, please contact
For more Networks News, see

This year’s `Fit for Purpose` Conference takes place on Friday 23rd April at the Perth Conference Hall. This is the 4th year the event has been held and we’re delighted to announce that our keynote speakers will include Mary Allison (Director of Programme Design and Delivery at NHS Health Scotland) and Dr Lynne Friedli (a mental health specialist and advocate of social prescribing). We’ll have the draft Programme ready soon. To register interest, email

Social Firms Scotland’s `Acquiring Business 4 Good` pilot (AB4G) is gathering pace. The pilot has been set up to facilitate the purchase of privates businesses and their conversion into social or community enterprises. To date, there are 15 `live` deals in process and, in an effort to meet demand, SFS are now advertising for an additional member of staff. See They’re also running an event, in partnership with DTA Scotland, in Fort William on 24th March. Places are still available. For info, see
Every so often, we revisit profiles to get an update on progress. This week, we are updating our profile on REQUIPIT, based in Leith, to coincide with their relaunch later this month (23rd March). Originally set up to refurbish and resell used computers to raise funds for the work of Bethany Christian Trust, it has now merged with Bethany’s electrical workshop creating a new social enterprise which will refurbish and resell all kinds of domestic appliances.   Already REQUIPIT is a wholesale white good supplier to a range of charity shop chains across the UK. For more, see

Here’s Fritz Radermacher’s metaphor of similar ideas converging into a wave – we’ve quoted this before but it’s worth comparing with Margaret Wheatley’s concept of `Emergence`.

”Very often in a networked, self-organizing process, hundreds of thousands of people come to similar conclusions.  If all this converges, you get a wave -and this wave leads to a new paradigm.  The idea then is to be an agent of change – in networks with a lot of other agents of change – and to try to strengthen relations and make processes strong”.

See Margaret Wheatley’s concept of ‘Emergence’. See,

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

Best wishes,

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