Senscot Bulletin: 14.08.15

Dear members and friends,


When I was a young man – I worked for some time with the violent youth gangs which ‘rule’ some housing estates. Such a worker is habitually aware of – colludes with – and may be inadvertently implicated in delinquent/criminal behaviour. It’s a very difficult role to occupy – which I certainly couldn’t handle now – and I retain an admiration for young professionals, with the energy and generosity, to walk for a while ‘on the wild side’.
            Some years ago, I was part of a group of child therapists who went to visit Kids Company in London; at the end of our tour, Camila Batmanghelidjh spoke to us for an hour. At first I found her vain and boastful – was put off; but by the end of the session I changed my mind. Camila has walked on the wild side – has compassionate understanding of the lives of some of our poorest children; is an important voice in the development of services.

            When I learned this week that Kids Company has grown to 600 staff – I looked no further for the cause of its demise. I’m a fan of the social theorist Leopold Kohr – who famously said: “When something is wrong – something is too big.” Third sector organisations need to resist the current pressure to get bigger. Social innovation comes from small, self-directed groups of people – with high motivation and understanding of their mission. The Scottish  govt. has failed to put in place the means to engage with the thousands of human sized organisations at local level; the hidden, untapped wealth of our communities.
Kids Company has provoked more discussion in the media about the role of the third sector than anything I can remember; some citizens looking for the first time at difficult issues. I can recall when we piloted social innovation – with a view to the best stuff being adopted by the state; now things move in the opposite direction – state services being ‘outsourced’ to ‘suppliers’ – either the Serco profit-driven model or the social economy. The collective third sector seems to be on a crash course to learn tendering procedures. We can expect that this will evolve an elite tier of ‘supercharities’ – attuned to competitive  contract procurement, impact measurement and all the other guff; a corporate culture – with little sense of belonging to an independent third sector. Some say that this has already happened.
We live in the times of a world refugee crisis – but Brits are being fed a very distorted picture of it. There is an important distinction in international law between migrants fleeing poverty (no rights) and those fleeing war and prosecution – who almost always have a right to refuge in Europe. The UK press gives the impression that we are being deluged by economic migrants from Africa – but in reality the majority are refugees from war-torn countries. Another distortion is that Calais is at the eye of the storm – whereas it represents less than 5% of those landing in Italy and Greece. Here are some facts.
As I have often said – I consider the term social investment to be nothing more than a marketing ploy of the money lenders – to sell debt finance to the third sector: the products on offer are the same as non-social investment. A potential new factor is the arrival of social investment tax relief (SITR) and this is an interesting piece from the Financial Times which takes an objective look from an investor’s point of view.
The Our Land campaign was launched this week in Scotland. The month long campaign – challenging Scottish Govt’s land reform proposals – will highlight the inequalities and secrecy of land ownership in Scotland; call for efforts to redevelop derelict or misused land; and improvements to the tax system.
Here’s Lesley Riddoch’s take on things.
An English social entrepreneur, Rachel Whale, posts an interesting blogin the New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) website; she believes that the UK charity/non-profit sector is diminished by its lack of a unifying vision or narrative. She says that we all tend to work in isolation and on individual social issues – whereas to change whole systems requires being part of something bigger than our own organisation. She proposes that our sector crafts a collective and compelling story – that makes us believe we can change the world we live in. I agree with her.
Positive Money is a movement to democratise money and banking – so that it works for society and not against it; Senscot discerns a growth in such activity. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is conducting an inquiry into how to best create sustainable and inclusive financial systems: a contribution to this inquiry has been contributed by a working group around the Institute of Social Banking (ISB) – also worth checking out. Here is a short summary and link. 
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: WHALE Arts, Remade in Edinburgh, Dundee East Community Sports Club, Firstport, Quarriers, Trellis, Bairdwatson Charitable Trust, Wild things!, Crossreach
EVENTS: Hands Up for Enterprise, Aug 28; DTA Scotland Annual Conference & AGM, Aug 31; Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, Sept 24;
TENDERS: Café Concessions – The City of Edinburgh Council, Cupar Skate Park – Fife Council, Framework agreement for Catering Services – Renfrewshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Senscot will be hosting its 11th SE Conference and Ceilidh this year – dates are 12th and 13th November. The event will again be at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld. We will have a draft programme available over the next couple of weeks – including some of our regular sessions – but also taking on board some of the comments from last year’s feedback. Over the last couple of years, we have been obliged to charge in order to make ends meet and will be doing so again this year. To register, see booking form.
Wednesday saw the third in the series of EU Masterclasses taking place at the Spectrum Centre in Inverness. To date, around 130 folk (100 orgs) have participated in these three sessions – in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness. The last in the current series takes place next Friday (21st Aug) at the Melting Pot in Edinburgh (10.30-1pm). Over 40 folk have signed up already. To do so, see Edinburgh. For more info, see latest update
Over the 12/18 months, SCRT has been working in partnership with Airdrie Savings Bank (ASB) in its efforts to begin to pool the resources of Scotland’s third sector. As part of this initiative and to develop further its relationship with our third sector, ASB is now recruiting for a new post of Business Development Manager . The successful candidate will have knowledge and experience of the wider third sector in Scotland – with the remit of developing and growing ASB’s involvement in our sector.
Trying to get 100% loan finance can sometimes be an issue within our sector. Big Issue Invest Scotland and Unity Trust Bank have collaborated to provide such finance that has allowed the Edinburgh Volunteer Centre to purchase new premises in the city’s Leith Walk. See full story.
CEIS’ Annual SE Policy and Practice Event takes place on Wednesday, 2nd Sept at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow. The event is now in its 9th year and regularly attracts around 200 delegates from across the country. This year’s programme will see the public presentation of the ‘SE State of the Sector Census’. Other items on the agenda will include the SE Vison 2025; Community Empowerment and SE; Rising Stars; Scaling up for impact; and more. To register, see here. CEIS has kindly offered a special rate (£50+vat) to Senscot or SEN members. For details, contact
This week’s bulletin profiles a community-led venue in West Lothian – and West Lothian SEN member – that is actively contributing to the social, cultural and economic wealth of the community. Bathgate Regal Community Theatre provides a programme of film, theatre, comedy and children’s activities as well as providing space for conferences; events; and workshops. Although first opened in 1938, Bathgate Regal has been running as community theatre since 1995. It now operates with paid staff and volunteers and continues to act as a cinema as well as having a dedicated theatre space with tiered seating – which can be adapted as an open space for other performances; business or social functions. It also runs its own bar. See more.
Some forms of mental illness involve an inability to shut off internal conversations. In contrast, someone in the fullest mental health will have the ability to calm their mind. Eckhart Tolle’s spiritual classic ‘The Power of Now’ – has a rare understanding of inner peace.


“Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.”


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