Senscot Bulletin: 15.01.10

Dear members and friends,

I’m in a bad mood this week – full of anger – not sure why.  I often have mood swings – some joyful – but others dark and angry.  Damage limitation is my strategy – don’t self destruct – no big decisions – own the moods and wait them out.  As often happens, the trigger of my present gloom was trivial.
 Browsing recently in TK Maxx, I found an amazing jacket of sky blue and yellow silk – with LAKERS emblazoned on the back.  Bought it for its sheer exuberance.  Mistake was to wear it– to the posh Dome bar in Edinburgh to meet a group of friends – suited-up business types.  Someone makes a crack about the jacket which causes great hilarity.  They’re laughing at me, but if I’d laughed along this incident would have passed – but I felt crushed – went in huff – been angry for days since.  Can’t shake it off.
 I’m told very disciplined people are able to change their thoughts and moods through willpower.  I admire them – the determined spirits who master great skills; the athlete, the monk, the musician, the scholar etc.  The samurai – practicing alone with his sword for hours is a powerful image – part of me envies this focus – this deadly precision.  Mine is a different temperament – more dreamy – wandering.  Things I practise don’t seem to get easier; and when the moods come to shake me – I just have to wait them out.  This is an angry week.

The voluntary, community and social enterprise movements are the main drivers of a unified third sector.  But our third sector in turn is part of wider civil society – standing alongside faith groups, trades unions, campaign groups, co-operatives etc.  At the beginning of this new decade, society faces some very serious problems, economic, environmental, social, political – and our traditional leaders are floundering.  Scotland’s major citizen-led organisations have called a Civil Society Summit as a first step to building a shared platform from which we can work together to find solutions.  Senscot is one of the conference partners and we invite you to join us on 18th Feb to help build an agenda for action.

The most sensible, balanced comment I’ve read about social enterprise recently is this short piece by John Bennett – MD of the award winning Pack It. He warns about all the hype and inflated expectations and calls for honest discussion about the realities of trading in the business world – including a willingness to share the ”scar tissue”.  Scotland has had its share of high profile social enterprises collapses which offer valuable (and expensive) learning.  I don’t believe enough has been done to capture these lessons.  Sometimes we’re too busy allocating/avoiding blame.  Most successful entrepreneurs understand that failure is part of the game.  It’s the bean counters who don’t get it!

The Regulator, Sara Burgess, has seen fit to raise the maximum dividend payable by a CIC to 20% of the value of a share, which will obviously attract more investment.  But if the defining characteristic of a social enterprise is that its profit is not distributed to shareholders – at what percentage of dividend is the so called ”asset lock” breached.  In this piece Burgess talks about the need to strike a balance.

STV, which is struggling financially through loss of advertising revenue, wants to abandon its regional news service.  It is intended that replacement news services will be subsidised from part of the TV licence which currently goes to BBC and competition is underway to run this new service in Scotland.  Along with all the usual suspects – established newspaper groups and broadcasters – a new social enterprise SSNF (South of Scotland News Federation) has thrown its hat in the ring, SSNF proposes specific Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders ‘opt outs’ gathered from an impressive grass-roots partnership of community interests.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 
JOBS: RECAP, Church of Scotland, Victim Support Scotland, The Three Eyes Project, Health in Mind, The Big Issue, The Scottish Society for Autism, Almond Enterprises Ltd, The Scottish Government
EVENTS:  Facilitation Training Day, 21 Jan; Climate Change: Effective Communication (Edinburgh), 22 Jan; View from the centre, 23 Feb; HISEZ Annual Conference, 26 Feb; Introduction to business planning and strategy, 10 Mar;

NETWORKS NEWS:  Colin writes: The UK’s main jamboree for Social Enterprises is the VOICE annual gathering which takes place this year in Cardiff on the 1st and 2nd February.  Voice 10 will feature the official launch of the ‘Social Enterprise Mark’ which Senscot has helped develop – so I’m going down with the Mark’s 5 Scottish Champions to help celebrate.  If you’re going to Cardiff under your own steam – and want to join up – contact for arrangements.  A limited subsidy may be available for travel courtesy of Scottish Govt.  For more Networks News, see

Scotland’s premier social enterprise trade fair, S2S, takes place this year on Wednesday 21st April at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh. Antonia Swinson, Coalition CEO, reminds us that ‘early bird’ rates are now available for those booking prior to Friday 19th February 2010. Last year’s event attracted almost 500 attendees and exhibitors. For details, see

From Social Investment Scotland (SIS), Craig Campbell reports that progress on the Scottish Investment Fund continues to be buoyant with just under £10m now approved.  The end of year 2 target approval figure of £14m is on track and demand is high with a further £35m of potential investment currently being assessed.  Over at the core SIS loan fund we understand that activity is similarly high with Alastair Davis, Investment Director forecasting 52% year on year growth in loans drawn by end March 2010.  Meanwhile, we also learn that board changes are afoot with 5 new directors appointed alongside Alf Young, former assistant Editor at The Herald, who replaces Ray Perman as SIS’s chair. Here’s a list of recent investments

Firstport, this week, announced its first tranche of awardees for 2010. This round of awards sees over £100k being given out to support new initiatives across the country. New awardees include Pitlochry Area CIC, Green Routes in Stirling, Edinburgh-based Strange Town Theatre Company and Uprising – an indoor activity centre in East Lothian. See press release,

This week’s bulletin profiles the first professional football club from either the Scottish or English Leagues to become a Community Interest Company (CIC). Stenhousemuir FC has always seen itself as a community club since its founding in 1884. The Board of Directors along with the Supporters Trust have formed the CIC with a view to developing its football and community activities as well as safeguarding any profits and assets being diverted away from its supporters and the community. As well as football and social activities, SFC CIC also runs other community intiatives such as after school clubs and programmes for schoolchildren with behavioural problems or with other special needs.(They’re also still in the Scottish Cup! ). For more, see

From the Notebooks of Simone Weil 1909-1943

 ”Life as it is given to us is unbearable without recourse to lying.  Those who refuse to lie and who prefer to realise that life is unbearable – though without rebelling against fate – receive in the end, from somewhere beyond time, something which makes it possible to accept life as it is.”

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,

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