Senscot Bulletin: 13.01.12

Dear members and friends,

During my recent Spanish visit – trudging along the seashore became obsessive – 3 or 4 hours a day – I lost 8lbs. I was like Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump – crossing the USA on foot – driven by some unconscious quest – not sure what this is about.
My daily route takes me past a wee snack bar attached to a budget supermarket; it’s run by Ana, on her own – scrambled eggs exactly as I like them. Ana is a big, earthy woman, about 50, from a hill village – not a word of English – not interested. Strong, lined face – the gentlest of eyes and smile – spiritual; we like each other – communicate easily like old friends. But what stays with you about Ana is her laughter. Free, joyous, raucous. Watching her with customers – she can make anyone smile – makes me want to be like her. I am resolved that 2012 will be the year of laughter.
 I got back from Spain at midnight last Thursday. The taxi headlights picked out something strange in my front garden. "Blimey"; the driver says, "that’s your chimney". And so it was, blown off the roof, it’s revolving granny still attached. When I get inside – no central heating (water pump kaput). Then I put my back out lifting my suitcase (acute sciatica). Welcome home Laurence! But I still have the image of a sunlit corner table – a warm, friendly woman bringing me scrambled eggs with wild asparagus –  bantering with her regulars – laughing all the way.

Social enterprise and the wider third sector in Scotland requires its own mutual financial institution – attuned to the values and specific needs of our social economy. Such a vehicle would be owned and accountable to our sector and would build investment funds of a scale to grow SE into a major force. There is no shortage of existing loan funds – it’s unlikely that we’ll need to start from scratch. At this time, leadership is required – to recalibrate one of the existing players into a leading role. 10 years ago, John Pearce wrote about such things in his book, ‘Social Enterprise in Anytown’ – much of it prophetic. See,

The Baring Foundation has committed £100k over the next 5 years towards the cost of the Panel for the Independence of the Voluntary Sector. The Panel has published its first ‘annual snapshot’ of the state of the sector’s independence – which is summarised in the attached piece –  One of the challenges identified is the blurring of boundaries between the three sectors; on this it highlights the growing adoption of the term ‘social enterprise’ by both private and third sector organisations. I believe this Panel is a useful initiative – but when you look in detail at its membership – full of gongs and honours – I often wonder how independent such people are?

Among the abundance of ‘trade’ bulletins which circulate – I always check out Steve Wyler’s (Locality) fortnightly letter – because he offers strong opinions – often critical of authority. His current complaint is about incompetent, lazy, mean-spirited procurement processes – which fail to understand the added value of high quality, locally delivered services.  You may recall that former MP, Brain Wilson took up this issue last year in the WH Free Press. See,

At the Senscot Seminar in October – the idea emerged to draw up a voluntary code of practice for social enterprise in Scotland; to make explicit the values and behaviours of our shared vision. We’ve kept plugging away at this task – Draft 3 was circulated this week to our Board and to some folk who have made detailed comment. We’re still tweaking – written comment welcome to . See,

At the start of every year, Senscot invites financial donations from readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin.  Not a condition – but your support is a real encouragement.  Some of our comment is too ‘spirited’ for the usual channels of funding. Senscot’s Board is accountable to our company members – around 100 individuals who support our work – submit the application form and pay an average of £25. Here’s the 2011 list,  To donate this year, see

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Edinburgh Cyrenians, Cre8te, Scottish Community Foundation (Resilient Scotland Ltd), Stirling Young Carers Education Project, Stirling Carers Centre, Fresh Start, Youth Football Scotland Ltd, PLUS Stirling, Scottish Fair Trade Forum
EVENTS: Advanced Tender Writing, 16 Jan; Social Innovators, 19 Jan; SQA Introduction to BSL, 23 Jan; Creating Enterprise to enable Social Benefit, 25 Jan, Consensus Decision Making, 26 Jan, Getting Ready to Buy, 9 Feb;
TENDERS: Consultancy Services related to Evaluation/Assessment of the Gaelic Translation Memory Service, Renewal of existing roofing, sportscotland Equality Standard for Sport expert resource, Repair and maintenance services, Kilmory Chapel Replacement Roof:

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: In 2009, 3 SENs undertook Vital Stats surveys- Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. In 2010, this number increased to 6. This year, we intend to extend this again, hopefully to 9 SENs. Vital Stats record key information on social enterprises’ economic activity, demonstrating the growth and development of social enterprise – in employment terms and trading percentages. We will be contacting SENs over the coming weeks with a view to updating figures for 2010/11. If your SEN has not already undertaken Vital Stats but wish to do so should get in touch with . See Vital Stats for 2009/10,
For more Networks News, see

A consortium led by Ready for Business LLP has been awarded the Developing Markets for Third Sector Providers’ contract by Scottish Govt. The contract will result in public service buyers becoming more informed about what the third sector can offer in terms of service delivery options. This will increase business opportunities for the third sector and improve sustainability in the process. ReadyforBusiness LLP is a partnership between Social Firms Scotland, CEiS and Senscot. Other members of the consortium include the Social Value Lab, KPMG and MacRoberts. We’ll keep you posted on further developments as they emerge. See,

The best round up of community sector matters in Scotland is the excellent fortnightly ‘Briefings’ email from the Scottish Community Alliance. Current issue links to Andy Wightman’s blog – bringing us up to speed on discussions about the management of Scotland’s Crown Estate. See,

David Cameron has decided to rattle Alex Salmond’s cage over the timing and conduct of the Independence Referendum. He’ll find that he’s up against an altogether different calibre of operator than he sees on the Labour front bench. The Scots will not be bullied by Tory public schoolboys. As Salmond says – these days are gone. See,

With Kids (in Glasgow) has circa 1500sq ft office space available for rent – 10 mins from Queen St. For info, contact
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in East Kilbride, that provides a professional counselling service to clients across the west of Scotland. Kerith Counselling Services Ltd was set up in 2001 and has grown from a part-time service in a "borrowed room" into a completely dedicated Counselling Centre with over 20 counsellors – with no public funding.  They seek to offer a professional service at an affordable cost. Assisted places are available for those who are unable to make the full financial contribution. Founder, May Gray, was awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours list for services to counselling in the West of Scotland. See,

From Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle.

When you walk through wild woodland, you will see not only abundant life all around you, but you will also encounter fallen trees, rotting leaves and decomposing matter. Wherever you look, you will find death as well as life. Upon closer scrutiny, however, you will discover that decomposing tree trunk and rotting leaves not only give birth to new life, but are full of life themselves. Micro-organisms are at work. Molecules are rearranging themselves. So death isn’t to be found anywhere. There is only the metamorphosis of life forms. In this sense, life is eternal.

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210