Senscot Bulletin: 13.04.12

Dear members and friends,

I seem to be getting more and more introverted – more energised by being alone – more drained by other people. I suspect I’ve always been this way – although when younger I felt more need to be noticed – pushed myself to ‘perform’. Recently I’ve noticed that social occasions – particularly those involving ‘fun’ (music and drink) have become pure purgatory; my party days are over. I am more than compensated for this loss by a deepening enjoyment of solitude – my own inner world, of thoughts and feelings. It’s probably fitting for older people to cultivate introspection – rather than an appetite for karaoke.
 Our word ‘monk’ (from the Greek monachos; single, solitary) is testimony that this human urge – to live apart from the crowd – has always been with us – innate. When life is grim – we try to go in our minds to a place beyond the reach of other people; to "a peace which surpasses all understanding" of which we’ve all had tantalising glimpses. But all human experience is ultimately social – thoughts of isolation are illusory; and even if it was possible to move beyond human interdependence – what would be left in that place. I’m very grateful for my few friends – for our conversations – trying to invent a way to live, from now on. Only please, please don’t invite me to any parties.

Through its vehicle Big Society Capital – the UK Govt policy for social investment slowly emerges; I find myself increasingly bewildered by the lack of protest from leaders of the UK third sector. If I’ve got it right – charities and SEs are being encouraged to switch to debt finance – at commercial rates – linked to ‘payment by results’ public contracts. Extravagant claims are made about a ‘new asset class’ – attracting City investors and pension funds. If we leave aside ethical questions (and I hope there are some) – does anyone seriously believe that the spivs of the city will touch Social Impact Bonds; unless, of course, they make it like the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) – a mechanism to pillage the public purse. See,

Not everyone shares our scepticism about the thinking behind Big Society Capital and Social Impact Bonds. Alastair Davies (CEO at Social Investment Scotland) takes a far more positive view. Here are Alastair’s thoughts,

Leaving aside the issue of independence – Scotland has a missing tier of democracy at community level – to represent the energy and creativity of civil society. Since 1976, I’ve been directly involved in activities to fill this gap – but the determination of political parties – particularly Labour – keeps power centralised. This piece by Lesley Riddoch, in the Scotsman, argues against the relevance of individual celebrity for local democracy – but I would argue that she herself is an extraordinary champion for our cause. Her argument here for local empowerment is compelling. See,

The Skoll World Forum is probably the main transmitter of the corrupted version of social entrepreneurship which reaches our shores from the USA. They see nothing contradictory in making an economic return from solving social problems – so whether your company is ‘for profit’ or not becomes irrelevant. Someone called Jason Saul gives his impressions of the 2012 Forum – for neo-liberal social entrepreneurs. It’s worth reading if only to better understand where the Westminster Govt wants to take our sector. See,

A reminder that next week (19th/20th April) sees an important gathering at Edinburgh Yooni Business School – "Just Banking – building a banking sector that serves society". An already impressive list of speakers has been added to with confirmation that both Lesley Riddoch (broadcaster) and Jim Mather (former Minister for Enterprise) will also be speaking. I plan to go along. See,

It must be 10 years since I first heard about Norah Barnes’ vision for the Earth Connections Centre on the Isle of Eigg. It’s been a long haul, but we understand that she and Bob Wallace are preparing to run their first residential courses this summer. If, like me, you’ve always wanted to visit Eigg – here’s your chance. We wish them much luck. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Development Officer DSEN, Enterprise & Development Manager, Learning Co-ordinator, Education Officer, Grow Green Youth Officer, Development Officer, Chairperson and Board Members
EVENTS: A Spoonful of Vintage, 22 Apr; World Book Night, 23 Apr; Getting to Grips with Social Accounting & Audit and Social Capital, 27 Apr; Finance Training for the Third Sector, 31 May;
TENDERS: Young Entrepreneurs Business Boot camp Start and Growth Programme, Collection and Recycling of Household Items in Glasgow. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: The Just Enterprise Programme ( ) is approaching the end of its first year – but is still keen to hear from SEN members who are looking to grow and develop sustainable streams of income. The Programme offers a range of support including: a telephone advisory service; one to one development support; business consultancy; as well as a range of workshops, learning and leadership programmes that are available across the country. For more, see  For more Networks News, see

An aspect of working with Scottish Govt is that your ‘points of contact’ move on. It’s the way the civil service operates. An exception to this has been Geoff Pope. Geoff has been with the Third Sector Division – in its different guises – for over 9 years but is now moving on to the Govt’s International Division. He was around as our social enterprise community began to emerge and has been a constant presence (and ally) as it has developed and grown over the years. Good luck with your new adventures, Geoff. See,

Interesting essay by John Kay calling for more pluralism in business structures. He recounts how regulatory and cultural changes in the ’80’s and ’90’s led to the demise of many mutuals – their long accumulated assets simply stripped out. Tribute is paid to the visionary John Lewis – who was shrewd enough to make asset realisation difficult. See,

The Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprise in Scotland (The Code) is now attracting a good level of interest since its launch on 27th March.  25 organisations have now registered as either ‘subscribers’ or ‘supporters’. We’ll be adding names to the register on a regular basis. If you’d like your own organisation to sign up, see .Remember – to sign up as a ‘subscriber’, you’ll require two sponsors.

Senscot Legal is now into its second year of trading. To date, it has been involved in the setting up of over 30 SCIOs. Last week, it completed its first SCIO conversion – on behalf of West Lothian Financial Inclusion Network – where an organisation converts from being an unincorporated charity to becoming a SCIO.  This ‘conversion’ process can be quite protracted – taking between 4-6 months. If your organisation is interested in doing something similar and could do with assistance, contact

Every so often, the bulletin re-visits earlier profile with an update. This week, the update is on Roadwise – the largest independent and first social enterprise driver training organisation in the North East of Scotland. Roadwise offers a first class range of services tailored to the needs of learner drivers and organisations.  Their team of instructors is committed to delivering driver training designed to improve driver safety, educating all drivers with appropriate skills, knowledge and attitude to be safe and accomplished road users.  Surplus generated by Roadwise supports the work carried out by Aberdeen Foyer. See,

Good personal piece in the New Statesman by AL Kennedy on her belated discovery of the richness of her Scottish culture.

 "I adored Ray Carver’s America, I worshipped Chekhov’s Russia and Calvino’s Italy, Ribeiro’s Brazil, Orwell’s England, but I could also enjoy a new flowering of Scottish literature. Unlike Buchan, Conan Doyle, Barrie and the rest, there are now Scots authors who could be Scots. Alasdair Gray. James Kelman and Tom Leonard all transcended nationality, as good writers should, but were also clearly from somewhere that I knew, loved and missed. They were male, working class, older and yet were so committed to writing as a free, strong and inviolable expression of individual life that they allowed me to write as myself."

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

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