Senscot Bulletin: 13.09.13

Dear members and friends,

 The automatic association between the Big Issue and homelessness was ended this week with the announcement that, in Scotland the magazine will now be available for sale through the wider third sector – charity shops etc.  For me, this means the end of one of our bravest social interventions – which challenged every one of us to examine our attitudes to those on the edge – for whom every day is a struggle to survive – or not.
 When the Big Issue in Scotland (TBIS) launched in 1993 – the notion of recruiting a salesforce from street people, with chaotic lifestyles, seemed preposterous to me; but I was spectacularly wrong.  During the peak decade (1994 – 2004), TBIS was ‘badging’ around 2000 vendors each year; weekly circulation soared and steadied at 50k; £1.3m annually – directly into the pockets of the poorest.  Perhaps most importantly – we citizens were chatting in our streets with people we would normally blank.  The remarkable achievement for me was not the magazine – but this engagement with a previously banished segment of society.
My friend Tricia was co-founder of TBIS – we reflected this week on her experience; “They were at once the best and the worst of times; there was great passion and commitment – but so many of the street people we got to know were without hope –  slowly destroying themselves.”  Later she says, “Some vendors became ‘attached’ to the organisation – a place to belong; certainly not equivalent to having a family – but maybe as much ‘belonging’ as some people can manage.  Such places are needed.”

We still have copies of ‘Kindness’ – Laurence’s latest selection of bulletin intros (2007-12). If you’d like a copy, see

Ever since it was first articulated by Ronald Cohen – Senscot has challenged the ethical basis on which Big Society Capital (BSC) operates.  The proposition that our third sector should distort itself into a dividend paying ‘asset class’ seems outrageous; why have so few sectorial leaders objected?  With an endowment fund of £600m – the Paul Hamlyn Foundation is a major player in the UK’s third sector funding landscape; it was pleasing this week that CEO Martin Brookes agrees – that there are worrying ethical issues around the BSC model which our sector has not properly addressed.  “If you change a gift into a market-based transaction – it kind of corrupts the relationship.”  See,

Senscot’s vision for social investment – is that we can fund our financial requirements from within our own sector.  The Scottish third sector’s considerable wealth – if deployed collectively – can be used to create a bespoke financial infrastructure; it can be owned by our sector – embracing values with which we are all comfortable.  With the assistance of new development funding – Senscot would now like to move our ideas towards implementation – see, For anyone with a specialist interest in this area, we will be hosting a seminar on the 4th October – (10.30 – 12.30) – at the Grassmarket Community Project, Edinburgh.  The attachment is from Jonathan Dawson who teaches economics at Schumacher College.  Refreshing.  See,

The draft Scottish budget was published this week – to the usual mutterings; the third sector got another ‘same again’ allocation (much appreciated) see, 4.doc – but the continual shrinking of local Govt is a worry.  Modern times call for a new model of public sector professional – one trained in working alongside community led service delivery.  The widespread hostility between community groups and ‘the Council’ is such a waste. The drafting of an annual Budget Equality Statement reflects well on Scottish Government.  See,

At Senscot, we rely on the fortnightly ‘Local People Leading’ Briefings to keep apace with Scotland’s Community Sector.  Community-owned energy generation has the potential to underwrite the missing tier of local democracy in Scotland.  But this week’s Briefings warns that this sector is not going as well as we hoped; local ownership mostly turns out to mean local landowners.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: The National Deaf Children’s Society, Transition Extreme Sports limited, Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery, Rag Tag and Textile Ltd, Fast Forward, Voluntary Action Fund, Dundee Social Enterprise Network
EVENTS: Yesteryear Bruncheon! featuring Angela Dolan, 14 Sep; An Introduction to Selling, 18 Sep; Summer Sea, Winter Sea, 19 Sep; Coalfields Challenge, 19 Sep; Fine-tuning your social enterprise, 20 Sep;
TENDERS: sportscotland National Centre Glenmore Lodge Extension and Repairs to Ski Track, Childcare Voucher Scheme – Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body and Promoting Equalities Programme Manager – Creative Scotland.  See,

SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: On Tuesday, Senscot, with Scottish Govt, hosted a Joint Thematic SEN event in Edinburgh. The first of its kind – bringing together folk engaged in the respective thematic Roundtables – Health, Sport, Culture and Community Food. The Roundtables provide a space for discussion, strategic thinking, influencing policy, making broader connections and providing additional support to the SENs. 30 people attended – SEN members, reps from Govt and other statutory agencies – with an agreement on the importance of extending these benefits across the different themes. Next meeting will focus on some agreed actions. Full report next week. See list of attendees,  See SENs Update, 

The programme for this year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh is taking shape. Latest addition to our programme is Duncan Osler (Chair of Social Enterprise Scotland). We’re delighted Duncan has accepted our invitation to be our keynote speaker at the Ceilidh dinner. Also, a reminder that Dragons’ Den entry forms are now available – see,  Closing date is Friday, 18th Oct. The event itself is at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld (14th/15th Nov).To book you place, see

Next week , (Burgh Halls, Linlithgow – Tues, 17th Sept), the Scottish Community Alliance (SCA) host ‘The Big Vote’ – the first in a series of events designed to shift the focus of the Referendum debate away from the politicians, out of the TV studios and put it into the hands of local people. Speakers lined up include journalists/broadcasters Lesley Riddoch, Iain McWhirter and Joyce MacMillan; Robin McAlpine (Jimmy Reid Foundation); Andy Wightman (land reform campaigner); Malcolm Fraser (architect); Dave Moxham (STUC); and Peter Kelly (Poverty Alliance). For more, see  The Big Vote website goes live on Monday 16th Sept – – and will carry info on further Big Vote events across the country.

Community food networks across Scotland are increasingly active in tackling food poverty in local communities – promoting a more food sustainable future. Last week, Nourish Scotland held its ‘enquiry’ into our future food system. See press release,  On 25th Sept in Glasgow, the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG) hosts another event – ‘Growing Community Projects Along The Food Chain – Making The Links’ – at Maryhill Community Central Halls – exploring the role of communities in all parts of local food networks from growing and selling – to eating and composting. See details, 

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Inverness whose aim is getting folk on their bikes and promoting a healthier lifestyle. Velocity is a café and bicycle workshop offering a range of services. In addition to bespoke bicycle maintenance and short-term bike loans, Velocity also has its ‘paper bike’ service – see, . They have recently been supported by Scottish Govt’s Climate Challenge fund to work with a number of schools and workplaces around the Inverness area. The Velocity Café also provides a range of services over and above food and drink – including film nights, speakers, music evenings, pop up dinners. For more, see

A Man in Assynt by Norman MacCaig.

 “Who possesses this landscape?  The man who bought it or I who am possessed by it?  Or has it come to this, that this dying landscape belongs to the dead, the crofters and fighters and fishermen whose larochs* sink into the bracken by Loch Assynt and Loch Crocach? – to men trampled under the hoofs of sheep and driven by deer to the ends of the earth – to men whose loyalty was so great it accepted their own betrayal by their own chiefs and whose descendants now are kept in their place by English businessmen and the indifference of a remote and ignorant government.
*Laroch – the foundation of an old building.

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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