Senscot Bulletin: 14.02.14

Dear members and friends,

          I often think of life in terms of the movement between hope and despair – and all the stages between. Pete Seeger’s life was overwhelmingly hopeful – last week I enjoyed the many memories and tributes. Then Philip Seymour Hoffman – a lovely man with family and friends – overdosed on heroin – profoundly sad. The ebb and flow of the morale – ‘the spirit’ – of individuals and groups – has always engaged me.
          My own theory is that individual expectation – our ‘quotient of hope’ – is set very early in life; much to do with how your mum managed her own needs alongside your total dependence; the growing emphasis on the infants first two years is spot on. After childhood, the emotional prism through which we view the world – becomes more constant; life’s ups and downs make less difference; I don’t see this as a downer – just celebrate who you are.
          The understanding of hope as a fundamental orientation on life – which enables us to keep trying new things is beautifully expressed by the late Vaclav Havel – writer/poet and first president of the Czech Republic. “We either have hope within us or we don’t” he says. “It is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not dependent on some observation of the world. Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons.” Havel’s full quote is well worth reading; his Hope has a quality of courage – even heroism.

Senscot is inviting financial donations from readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin.  Traditionally, circa 100 individuals give an average of £25 to become full company members. Senscot’s board is elected by – and is accountable to these members. We also invite donations from individuals or organisations who simply want to support what we do. To join or to donate, see . An invoice can be supplied on request. See this year’s list – so far,

John Swinney was over in Oslo this week – speaking about the ‘Scottish Model’ of social enterprise – which continues to gather an international reputation. He can justifiably take credit for the sustained priority he has personally given to supporting the culture of SE. But the Scottish Model, as he calls it, has benefitted from a couple of factors outwith Govt support. Firstly, there is consensus in Scotland about definition – that a true SE is asset locked; with 5 criteria adopted by the sector and Govt . Secondly, there is a growing ‘infrastructure’ of SE Networks (SENs) across the country – bottom up – self-governing – but increasingly interconnected. See,

The Think Tank ResPublica produces a stream of papers of such quality that I feel guilty for not having read them all. ‘Markets for Many’, their latest offering argues that ‘civil finance’ – the mutualised finance sector – could become a driver of local economics. In particular it calls for an all-party agreement to introduce a USA style Community Reinvestment Act- obliging banks to reinvest in the communities they serve; this measure alone would transform social investment. See,

You may be aware that in the new financial year – the Chancellor will introduce tax relief for investment in social enterprises; the Treasury is rightly insisting that an eligible SE must be regulated for social purpose, see The problem is that England’s charity regulator is widely considered to be unfit for purpose – see, and their CIC regulator has come under fire for being less than vigilant – see,. Our society wisely affords fiscal benefits to organisations which operate for the public good; without effective regulation, this system is open to abuse and will become degraded.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: SCARF, Edinburgh University Students’ Association, HealthynHappy Community Development Trust, Re-Union Canal Boats, Community Resources Network Scotland, Quarriers, Cothrom Ltd
EVENTS: Engaging Communities on Energy and Climate Change, 18 Feb; Out of the Blue Flea Market, 22 Feb; SME & Social Enterprise Sales Workshop 2/2, 25 Feb; SIIA 2014-14 Information Evening, 3 Mar;
TENDERS: Tender for the Provision of Capacity Building for Co-Production – Inverclyde Council; Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Testing) – West Lothian Council and Supply. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: At many events where our social enterprise community comes together to reflect on where we are; where we should be going, there is a recurring theme that we are not very good at telling ‘our story’. The suggestion is that we get caught between two stools – either over-hyping things or being guilty of hiding our lights under a bushel. Both have an element of truth about them. Our view would be that it is important to tell the good stories – as well as the not so good ones. This week, we’ve got some good stories to tell – with a series of case studies on Community Food SEN members, titled – Changing Local Food Economies. See case studies, Community Food Case Studies For more on this, contact For more SENs News, see

Senscot attended a Scottish Govt session yesterday – the first in a series – entitled, ‘The Third Sector; A Strategic Conversation’. Around 30 folk from across the third sector gathered to discuss strategic considerations for the future. From Senscot’s perspective, a primary consideration in any future strategy would be the formal recognition of the three strands that make up our third sector: social enterprise; the community sector; and the voluntary/charitable sector – the three-legged stool. To do so would clear the path for greater and more effective collaboration – and, most importantly, bring greater benefits to those our sector is meant to serve. See agenda and attendees,

Scottish Govt has announced the first tranche of Enterprise Ready Fund awardees. Around £2.3m has been allocated to 67 organisations. Congrats to successful applicants. See,
Senscot continues to strengthen the business plan for the Scottish Community Banking Trust (SCBT); one of the proposals is to provide the services of an independent broker – to offer info, appraisal and comparison of financial products suitable for the third sector. A good example is the dedicated mortgage for community shops – currently being launched by the Plunkett Foundation and Ecology Building Society. If you’re anything like me – you would welcome and independent appraisal of this product – alongside its competitors. See,

British Petroleum (BP) told the Scottish people this week that, on the issue of independence, they prefer things the way they are. This cartoon by Chris Cairns is an apt response.

Only four weeks to go until the 3rd Sports SEN conference – “SE & Sport – Inspiring our Leaders”. Ann Gloag, co- founder of Stagecoach, will be one of our guest speakers, co-presenting with Gordon Merrylees (RBS). Ann will share her experiences of business and the bridge between commerciality and social purpose. We have space for another 30 delegates. If you’d like to join us, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a new member of Glasgow SEN, The Caravan Project (TCP). TCP is the trading name of Drumchapel Caravan Project, a co-operative in North Glasgow that provides respite holidays to 60 families in poverty and living in the north west of Glasgow.  They currently own two caravans in the Berwick-Upon-Tweed holiday park where, last year, over 200 people benefitted from their service. One of their caravans has been designed for people with mobility issues or a physical disability. The caravans are available from March-Sept – and you can book now. See,

Still on the subject of hope – this is a quote from Lu Xun (1881-1936) – who some refer to as China’s greatest modern writer; he is particularly known for his short parable-like stories.

“Hope cannot be said to exist, nor cannot be said to not exist. It is just like the roads across the earth. For actually there were no roads to begin with, but when many people pass one way, a road is made.”

I also recently happened on this beautiful quote:
“We receive and we lose, and we must try to achieve gratitude; and with that gratitude to embrace with whole hearts whatever of life that remains after the losses”. Andre Dubus II, Broken Vessels.

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