Senscot Bulletin 13.03.15

Dear members and friends,


From the English Green party spring conference last week, Zoe Williams wrote: “there is something distinctive about authentic ovation – applause that is neither dutiful nor orchestrated. I don’t know how you can tell – but you can – and that’s what greeted party leader Nathalie Bennett today; it was a statement of support, of love, if you like”. Without regard for what the media say about them – the Greens have the courage to describe a better world – where market imperatives are balanced against social justice and the care of our planet. This resonates with people – particularly the young – longing to live in a society with values they can support.
            When I reflect on events around our indyref – Scotland’s revolution – my sense is that our civil society moved beyond protest – to the realisation that we can all help formulate the kind of society we want. This is happening because of – and mainly through the agency of, independent websites; these now attract numbers approaching 100,000 and survive mostly from citizen support. It’s impossible to predict where all this energy will lead – that’s what makes it so exciting; the usual power brokers – in politics, the media, big business – haven’t a clue what’s coming next or where from.
            At a Nordic Horizons event in the parliament last week, Uffe Elbaek spoke of a new Danish ‘Alternative Party’ – based on courage, generosity, transparency, humility, empathy and humour. There was spontaneous applause when Elbaek concluded “the Alternative is not a party of protest – it’s a party of longing”.


Last Saturday afternoon – switching the TV between the tennis in Glasgow and the Scottish Labour Party Conference – between a passionate audience and a solemn one. Andy Murray won through – but it looks increasingly likely that the Labour Party is a spent force in Scotland. This begs the question of who will keep the SNP honest come the 2016 Holyrood elections; a competent opposition is as essential as the ruling party. If Labour gets demolished in May-the following months could be extraordinary-the possible emergence of a new political force. So many bemused faces at the Conference – wondering how they won a referendum, but lost Scotland. What has happened is that the ‘little people’ have begun to dismantle the world of the ‘big people’ – long may it continue. This is Kevin McKenna’s column in Sunday’s Observer.


Alasdair Gray is 80 years old and I am among those who consider him a national treasure; but he is uncomfortable with this role – and has written a series of articles for The National which he hopes will earn him Hugh McDairmid’s title ‘ a disgrace to the community’. This is his ‘Towards Democracy?’: Part one. In which he asks if a majority of common people has ever changed a government. It’s radical, delightful, eccentric; just like Alasdair Gray. See more


There is a London dominated blogsphere out there around the topics of social enterprise and social investment – I don’t engage because it willfully blurs the boundaries between social and private enterprise; I wonder how much of it is funded by merchant banks. Senscot’s position is that we should not allow our sector to become a satellite of the money markets – SE has different aims and values which the commercial market does not honour. Les Huckfield – a Senscot Trustee – carries our flag (and Code) into battle. See more


It is reckoned that approximately 24% of the UK population has no online presence – in Glasgow, this figure stands at 40%. We link to a recent research project which looks at why this should be – and what can be done about it. We all have a view about how important the internet is for personal well-being – but it becomes a concern if poverty is the barrier. See more


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: Turning Point Scotland, RAMH, Renfrew Development Trust, Transition Extreme, Creative Carbon Scotland, WorkingRite, Reeltime Music, Lorn & Oban Healthy Options Ltd, Blantyre Soccer Academy
EVENTS: Lanarkshire’s Social Enterprise Trade Fair 2015, 20 Mar; Introduction to Tendering, 24 Mar; Business Planning Workshop, 25 Mar; Dragons’ Den (Coalfields Regeneration Trust and Social Enterprise Alliance for Midlothian), 23 Apr; Community Shares Scotland – Edinburgh Roadshow, 1 May;
TENDERS: Website Design and Implementation, Crossreach; Supply & Delivery of Fresh Fruit & Vegetables, West Dunbartonshire Council; Proposed Remembrance Garden, Falkirk Crematorium 


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: The power of sport as a tool for change with social enterprise seen as a route to achieve both impact and sustainability is a growing area of interest across the UK.  This week, Diane Cameron, our SE & Sport Coordinator, spoke at an all-Ireland conference in Belfast – sharing tales of our 5 year journey into the world of SE & sport and highlighting the work of a number of our Sport SEN members. The event focused on the theme of “Enterprise & Collaboration” and unearthed uncanny similarities across all countries – both in terms of challenges as well as the passion of the social entrepreneurs and community leaders who are ‘walking the walk’ – although, sadly, this passion often has to be matched with an equal measure of tenacity.  On a particularly positive note, the event looks like leading to ongoing dialogue and further collaboration between the respective nations. See full programme. For more news from the Networks, see SENs News


A series of meetings and feedback sessions have and will be taking place this month following the circulation of the SE Vision 2025 document in February. One of the strongest messages coming back has been the need to address how social enterprise is represented and supported locally – ‘ in the context of genuine localism’. The relationship between the national support programmes (who is accessing the support?); national intermediaries (are their respective roles clear?); the Third Sector Interface’s SE support function (are they delivering?); and the SENs (where they exist) and wider SE community (where SENs do not exist) – is in need of greater coherence and clarity. If our aspiration really is to see SE as ‘central to the Scottish approach of doing business and providing services’ – and not just in Edinburgh and Glasgow – getting these relationships clear is going to be crucial.


From time to time it is worth recognising the progress made by SEs in Scotland over the last 10 years. In particular, the last couple of years has seen the emergence of a new cohort of social enterprises and social businesses – many out of the Firstport ‘stable’ – making their mark both nationally and internationally. In terms of raising SE’s profile amongst the public, these organisations have attracted more column inches in the mainstream media in the last year or so than many national intermediaries have managed in the last decade. Examples include: WEvolution; Bad Idea ; Social Bite; and Delivered Next Day Personally. Could this new vanguard, all very different, reflect the changing face of our landscape in the years to come? Over the coming months, the first national mapping of SE in Scotland will be taking place – carried out by Social Value Lab. Early ‘headline’ figures due around June, full report in September. More soon.


Just spent half an hour on the website of WEvolution – who have just been awarded generous funding from the Scottish Govt – mucho impressed. With leadership from the Church of Scotland – a party of 13 Glasgow women – from 7 areas – visited India; they studied the women’s self-help movement (8 million groups involving 100 million women). Back in Glasgow they’re building a network of SRGs (self-reliant groups), each with the aim of becoming sustainable wee businesses. I’m a fan of the Fritz Schumacher – small is beautiful – philosophy; a small group quietly collaborating – then another – then another. See more


This week’s bulletin profiles a sport social enterprise based in South-Central Edinburgh. The Crags was set up in 2012 by a group of basketball players after the centre had been closed by Edinburgh City Council. Having been in Council control for many years, the Centre failed as a financial proposition and a community resource, resulting in its closure in 2010. A council-run procurement process saw it going back into community hands. It has now evolved into a thriving community-run sports centre providing a range of activities. Numerous local clubs and schools are making use of facilities that include: a large games hall; studio; social reception area; and an open-access outdoor pitch. See more


I’m finding the current Scottish Review of the Books a rewarding read – including the SRB interview with Glasgow born Andrew O’Hagan – a sample:


“You’ve been to Afghanistan. For many people the war has been an operational and ethical disaster. Do you see it that way?


Truly – a complete disaster – on every level. We’ve killed thousands of civilians and pushed the minds of an entire generation of Muslims toward intolerance. We’ve handed an agenda of grief to millions of people and reduced our stature around the world. We have lied, cheated, tortured, and killed our way across a stretch of the world we still don’t understand, and have brought an army home that feels defiled. At the last count, we lost 453 British soldiers and saw 2600 wounded. In operational terms, it has achieved nothing. And in ethical terms, it was shameful: young, bored British squaddies firing £70,000 Javelin rockets at houses made of mud.”


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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