Senscot Bulletin: 14.10.11

Dear members and friends,

In Spain last week the weather was beautiful – we had great company and food – but I caught some bug – am laid low – writing this in bed. In violent coughing spasms – I see the face of Calvinism – John Laurie of Dad’s Army saying “you had fun – now you must pay!”
Since 1970 – the sunny shores of Andalucia have nurtured two major industries – tourism and construction (some say to excess); forty good years of continuous employment – for a hard working people who had known the hardship of the land. But the coastal resorts are struggling – a million empty houses – closed restaurants – are testimony to a global economic system in serious trouble. In the mountains around Ronda – where I visited last week – the workers are drifting back to their villages – to stay with Mum – or in the empty house of some cousin; its survival time. Most villagers have an allotment – its produce is shared around. The habit of frugal subsistence is deep in this culture – the grandparents have been here before – they sit in the plaza discussing an older and fiercer order of things.
Getting away – even for a week – can afford us a glimpse of our lives from a different perspective – we can come back with a different take on things. Italo Calvino said, “In life only a few things matter – if you don’t want to end up in a bleak world – be vigilant.” I find myself reviewing priorities.

The meaning of the term social enterprise – as a brand distinct from private profit – is under intense attack. Last week, we reported how Nick O`Donohoe – CEO of Big Society Capital – has rejected the official (DTI 2002) definition – and has asked if a Tesco Local, offering jobs in a deprived area should be considered a social enterprise. He says that this is an `open issue`, .  It now transpires that there are moves from Europe to try and standardise the definition and support for SE across member countries. The European Commission definition is very similar to that of the DTI and certainly doesn’t include Tesco Local. See,

The debate about Social Impact Bonds and their like – tends to revolve round the difficulties of measuring impact – to release dividends. For me, this misses the main issue – that it is morally repugnant to make private profit from helping the poor and needy. An `asset class` – fuelled by private investment – paying dividends – is not an arrangement which I recognise or wish to be part of. The linked report is typical of a flood of hype currently circulating,

I’m a fan of writer/journalist Neal Ascherson – one of the best things I read this week is an interview with him in Bella Caledonia. Commenting on the Scottish political landscape, he says “ The SNP are trying to build a kind of Hadrian’s Wall in reverse – behind which the very best of the British post war settlement – the best of social democracy – will be preserved – and only independence can really do that”. I agree with Ascherson that this is a `formidable` position. He believes that some of Labour’s bitterness stems from the realisation that this is precisely what they should have done. It’s worth a read. See,

The UK Govt. lauded the ‘Work Programme’ as a ‘big society boost’ for local organisations; but Patrick Butler’s well researched (Guardian) blog on Wednesday makes it clear that the real winners are the large private corporations. See,

Steve Wyler, CEO of Locality, is a voice from the English community sector which I respect. In his regular newsletter this week he says “In spite of the warm words – many politicians remain sceptical about the ability to local people – particularly in poor communities – to determine their own futures – to control decisions and resources”. See,
None of us who champion community-led regeneration are naïve enough to think it can happen without investment. We understand that the Scottish Community Alliance is refining a submission to Scottish Govt. to support the recruitment and training of locally based community workers.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Crisis, RAMH, Action for Sick Children, Craft Town Scotland/West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd, L’Arche Edinburgh, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Turning Point Scotland, Forth Sector, Garvald Edinburgh, Women Onto Work
EVENTS: Big Opportunities for Small Communities, 18 Oct; Action Learning for Active Citizenship, 31 Oct; Mainstreaming Service User Involvement, 31 Oct; Six Steps to Sustainability – Free Training, 1 Nov; Tools, Tips & Techniques for Involvement 1 Nov;
TENDERS: Halbeath Park & Choose – Car Park and Facilities Building, Provision of catering services for Scottish Public Pension Agency and staff at HMP Edinburgh, Tendered Local Bus Services in Angus and a
Feasibility Study into a Hydro Energy Project in Bannockburn.

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: The 2011 Ceilidh is now officially full. We can accommodate additional `day delegates` but in terms of staying over night – all rooms are now booked. Today is also the deadline for Dragons’ Den entries – 12 applications as of yesterday. This year, the Dragons` Den is also being promoted through Borders SEN members, SoLoCo, with the intention of raising £1,000 as the audience prize. See, . We’ve also finalised the outline programme and will be refreshing it in the lead up to the Ceilidh itself. See, . For more Networks News, see

Senscot has been vocal over the last year promoting the engagement of Social Enterprise Networks (SENs) and the wider social enterprise community with their local Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs). It’s not been an easy task and there is still some way to go. However, we’re pleased to say that a `joint letter` has been agreed between ourselves, Social Firms Scotland, SSEC and Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS), and was circulated to all Interfaces this week. The gist of the letter was to emphasise that facilitating the active involvement of social enterprises is a requirement for every Interface. Hopefully, this can pave the way for a more productive relationship between the SE community and local Interfaces. This comes on the back of a number of recent approaches from Interfaces who are keen to develop closer working relationships with the SE community. We’ll keep you posted on progress. See `joint letter`,

Over the last year, BRAG Enterprises has been delivering their `Motivate to Innovate` in different locations across the country – offering business start up support for aspiring social entrepreneurs. Last week, one of their students, Lynne Ogilvie, received wide press coverage on the unveiling of the UK’s first wind powered van. Lynne runs Fife Shopping and Support Services (FS&SS), delivering groceries and pensions to the elderly across Fife. See more,

This week`s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise that has been set up to produce theatre and film with a social impact. Based in Edinburgh and Firstport awardees, Strange Theatre aims to tackle serious issues in a fun and uplifting way to help promote dialogue and positive social change. They are currently developing a portfolio of stock film clips for sale on line, which help communicate varied social issues. They also offer a risk free service for third sector organisations to create film to communicate their work. For more, see

Satish Kumar writing about the philosophy of Fritz Schumacher:

"It was logical and natural to produce, consume and organize as locally as possible, which inevitably meant on a smaller scale. Therefore, to him the question of size was an overriding and overarching principle. Beyond a certain scale the people involved are disempowered and a bureaucratic machine takes over.
Large hospitals, large factories and large businesses lose the purpose of enriching human wellbeing and become obsessed with maintaining and perpetuating the organization for its own sake. Therefore, it could be said almost invariably that if there is something wrong, there is something too big. As in economics, so in politics. So Schumacher believed in small nations, small communities and small organizations. Small, simple and non-violent were his three philosophical precepts.”

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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