Senscot Bulletin: 13.07.12

Dear members and friends,

 The lower back problem I had at new year has left my legs weaker; to aid balance, I now use a walking stick- a strange experience – a new persona to get used to.  When they see my stick – folk treat me differently – more considerate – courteous – small kindnesses.  Altogether a very positive experience.
 The simple idea of a ‘social compact’ is an essential part of civilisation; if you’re in serious need – I’ll help – and you’ll do the same for me; which enables us to move beyond our tribe.  But I believe that this behaviour is more than ‘enlightened self interest’ – I believe that our impulse to help each other is innate.  When some years ago, that boy fell injured among gorillas – and they approached him with gentle solicitude – I had a ‘light bulb moment’; the realisation that kindness is ‘hardwired’ within us.
 I think I’m fairly resilient facing life’s setbacks – "commandos feel no pain" etc; but if treated with anything resembling tenderness – I turn to mush.  Walking with a stick – vulnerable – has brought me a different perspective; a fresh appreciation of the kindness deep down in people – perhaps the deepest thing; and that this is what keeps us going.  I’m making a new collection of these intros (see next item) – thinking of calling it: "Until Finally: it is only kindness that make sense anymore."

NEW BOOK?  Its six years since Senscot published ‘You’ve got to Laugh’ – a selection (150) of bulletin intro pieces; well we’ve made a further selection – for publication in time for the Xmas pressies.  To ‘lubricate’ the process, we’re trying to ‘crowd source’ an initial two grand; if 20 friends would ‘front purchase’ 10 copies (£100) – that would do it.  Don’t send money yet – but please email your willingness; final decision to print depends on level of support. 

The UK govt wants a more efficient third sector – which through using private finance – is less dependant on state aid.  But what if your customers simply can’t pay for services; what if you have insufficient working capital for ‘payment by results’ contracts; what if you have no prospect of making the return required by social investment. Good article by Isobel Spencer in Society Guardian which suggests that there are around 5000 such organisation in the UK now under threat.  If Spencer is right – there are dozens of social sector organisations in Scotland who fit this profile: turnover between 100k and under one million pounds; delivering highly specialised services – to our most needy citizens; by their nature, highly dependent on council grants – the fastest declining source of income for the third sector.  But my question to the ‘bean counters’ is – what will be the cost to the taxpayer if these organisations fold.

Senscot believes that the UK govt’s plans to fund the social sector through profit yielding bonds – is a major error – with potentially grave consequences for our work.  Social investment we believe should not come from money markets (which don’t understand our values) – but from the public sector – and from the reserves of our own established organisations.  Senscot, and others, are in conversations with Charity Bank about a specifically Scottish institution – owned by our sector – to retain and invest our own money.  Concept paper next week.

The Big Tent which has become one of Scotland’s great festival’s returns next weekend (21st/22nd July) to Falkland in Fife.  Appealing to "head, heart and hands" – it aims to lift our spirits in difficult times.  Please take a look at this year’s programme – the best ever.  You’ll see names which appear regularly in the bulletin – leaders of the counter-culture in Scotland.

"It takes quite a lot to unite the people of this notoriously fractious little country in a collective shudder – but Donald Trump has managed effortlessly.  It’s hard to think of a less sympathetic character in the eyes of most Scots."  Splendid rant from Lesley Riddoch comparing the braggart tycoon with our Andy Murray.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Rowan Alba, Perth Service, Ailsa Horizons Ltd, Blue Trianle Housing Association, Unst Partnership, Petal Support Limited, Quarriers, Tron St Marys Parish Church, Edinburgh University Students Association
EVENTS: Bruncheon! featuring The Sound of Muesli, 14 Jul; Researching Women’s History In Clydebank, 25 Jul; Getting to Grips with Social Accounting & Audit and Social Capital (Dundee), 30 Aug;
TENDERS: Delivery of Community Based Health Improvement Activity in Glasgow, Social Enterprise & Third Sector Challenge Fund, Construction of Gorebridge Community Hub and Measured Term Contracts for Gates & Fencing and Hard Surfacing, Soft Landscaping and Repair Work. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Scottish Government intends to introduce a Sustainable Procurement Bill during this Parliament and we expect a formal consultation to open before end of summer.  This bill has major, potentially beneficial, implications for the growth of social enterprise – so it merits our attention.  Within the Scottish SE community, Pauline Graham, Social Firms Scotland, takes the lead role on Procurement, Community Benefit Clauses etc.  Her specialist knowledge will be available to the Bill Sounding Board chaired by Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil.  See here for details of the policy objectives of the Bill  The newest SEN – specifically for start up SEs – now has its own web page – posted by Firstport  For more on Networks 1st see

Scotland leads the UK – both in terms of community land ownership, and community renewable energy projects.  Here’s the lottery press release about a further tranche of the Land Fund and recent comment from Nicholas Gubbins (CEO of Community Energy Scotland) about the impressive achievements of community groups generating energy.

Came across this interview with David Robb – CEO of OSCR – whom I happen to know from his days with the Scottish Executive.  I think this is a good appointment for our sector (clear thinker) – that David will steer the charity ship through what could be rough seas ahead.

Jonathan Jenkins, CEO of Social Investment Business, (one of the UK’s largest social lenders) said this week that he would like the meaning of ‘social ventures’ to broaden – to include profit distributing businesses.  He said this at an event hosted by the govt’s Big Society Capital – which is known to favour ‘a more inclusive’ definition of social enterprises.  See more

Tariq (our techie guy) told me this week that it is now possible to send money by text; I think this has major implications for the social sector – cant be ignored.  Here’s an article by and Ipsos MORI researcher

PROFILE: The newest social enterprise network is the ‘start-up SEN’ and at its inaugural meeting we met Sheila Logan – founder of TenderCush.  Following surgery for breast cancer in 2009 – Sheila suffered pain and discomfort from her wounds – but couldn’t find products to help her.  So she designed – and now markets specially shaped pillows – for women trying to protect their wounded side following breast surgery.  TenderCush support Maggie’s cancer care centres.

It is fitting that our bulletin acknowledges the centenary this week of the birth of Woody Guthrie – the great American balladeer and champion of the poor.  Steve Earle wrote this in 2003:
 "Woody was born in one of the most desolate places in America, just in time to come of age in the worst period in our history…  He became the living embodiment of everything a people’s revolution is supposed to be about: that working people have dignity, intelligence and value above and beyond the market’s demand for their labour…  For me personally, Woody is my hero of heroes and the only person on earth that I will go to my grave regretting that I never met".  Good piece in this weeks Observer, Woody at 100 by Ed Vulliamy
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