Senscot Bulletin: 15-02-08

Dear members and friends,

News from Italy that my cousin has died – the last of our family to live in the hamlet, simply called ‘Demarco’ where my dad was born. I first visited this `valley of my fathers` in 1953 – the houses without electricity or water or sanitation. Nothing romantic – constant drudgery and grunt work for bare subsistence – no such thing as money. A savage way of life – unchanged for centuries.
 After his mother died, my cousin moved with his wife and family to Glasgow where, through hard work and sound judgement, they prospered in the chip shop trade. But trade was only ever a means to an end and when their two boys were grown and settled, he and his wife returned to their wee bit farm in the sunshine. They grew grapes and olives and maize – fattened the pig and the calf and the chickens – and this time ‘the good life’ included central heating – a power shower – no money worries. Now the land that fed my ancestors for generations will lie fallow. Do these things matter?
 My cousin and I liked each other – many warm encounters – but for whatever reason our lives never entwined. This was my loss because he was a man of unusual honour, wisdom and generosity – with a gift for laughter and friendship. I will remember him as someone who knew who he was and was comfortable with it. Someone who knew what he believed and lived by it. Someone who returned to his roots; a tiny hamlet in a remote valley in Southern Italy, known, for as long as memory, simply as ‘Demarco’
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The community engagement staff at Scottish Government have published feedback from the discussions they’ve been hosting on community empowerment. It’s difficult to get much shape from the 150 bullet point responses in this document – but it seems to me that the key questions are `maturing` towards a coherent position. The suggested roles of central govt., local councils and community anchors, taken together are informative. Whatever I heard John Swinney say at Tulliallan recently, it’s becoming clear that the key mechanism for co-ordinating public sector support for community empowerment is going to be community planning partnerships. This begs the question of how serious the SNP are about this policy area. The question everyone asks – what about places where CPPs don’t engage with communities?
Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (English) wants what we call the Third Sector, to be recast as ‘Civil Society’ so as to augment the power and influence of our work. This resonates with what our First Minister said in Ireland on Wednesday about a `Social Partnership` which embraces civil institutions. Whether or not a change of name is desirable, I personally welcome the idea of a debate amongst ourselves about how the sector defines itself. For sometime, I have felt that Scottish civil servants (including the Lottery) are busy shaping the infrastructure which supports our work, in accordance with what they want us to do. There is a fundamental issue at stake here – no less than who owns our sector. The civil realm must be kept very distinct from the State – Etherington may have got this right – civil servants must be kept accountable to civil society. This interview is a worth a read
One of the most urgent challenges facing our sector is to ‘evidence value for money’ – particularly within the procurement process. It’s one thing for us to ‘know’ the added value (social capital) benefits of what we do – but how do we demonstrate these. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) has come up with the idea of a ‘common indicator bank’ – a kind of reference library of measured outcomes.
Senscot`s annual appeal for donations is more pressing this year because the bulletin has no funding. Any support you can give would be much appreciated. Link for details

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: 24 vacancies, incl. posts with: Routes to Work South, Edinburgh Cyrenian Trust, Groundwork UK, Deaf Action, Street Level Photoworks, Rum Community Trust, Princess Royal Trust Borders Carers Centre
EVENTS: 16 events, Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid, 21 Feb, Fife; Final Conference, EQUAL Social Economy Scotland Partnership, 21 Feb, Glasgow;  Mental Health Awareness, 15 Mar, Kirkcaldy; More than Recycling 08, 11 Mar, Perth; S2S Third Annual Social Enterprise Trade Fair, 23 Apr, Dundee

As part of the visit to Liverpool for the Voice 08, Colin is setting up meetings with a couple of English Networks. So far, interest has been shown from the North East Social Enterprise Partnership ( ) and Social Enterprise West Midlands ( For more Network news, see

Last Tuesday (12th Feb), Senscot hosted the second Intrapreneurs event at the Trades Hall in Glasgow. With a group of around twenty, discussion focused on raising the profile of innovation and enterprise within the public sector and what were the major hurdles that people faced. The third event will be held towards the end of March. See draft note of Tuesday’s meeting,

Aspire to Enterprise is now open for business. The consortium, led by CEiS, recently won the contract to provide business support services to social enterprises in Lowland Scotland. The consortium will be targeting social enterprises that have the potential to increase their trading and become more sustainable. With a big couple of years ahead for the sector, this programme has the opportunity to make one of the most important contributions to the growth of the sector and it’s great to see this specialist service being made widely available. For more on the programme and eligibility etc, see

We hear that our old pal, Osbert Lancaster, is moving on after seven years with the Centre for Human Ecology. He is taking up a post with Footprint Consulting. His new role will look at raising awareness of the issues of ethical purchasing and sustainability.

This week’s bulletin profiles a dynamic social enterprise in Lanarkshire that is looking to recruit new trustees to their Board. Reeltime Music, based near Motherwell, has been shortlisted for the Best Performing Social Enterprise Award at the Lanarkshire Business Excellence Awards 2008. It runs a recording and rehearsal facilities for young people in the area. They are keen to recruit new trustees to help them develop further income generation strategies that will secure long-term sustainability. For more, see

From Hans Kung:  On Being a Christian

‘If ever the last 50,000 years of man’s existence were divided into lifetimes of approximately sixty-two years each, there have been about 800 lifetimes. Of these 800, at least 650 were spent in caves. Only during the last seventy lifetimes has it been possible to communicate effectively from one lifetime to another. Only during the last six lifetimes did masses of men ever see the printed word. Only during the last four has it been possible to measure time with any precision. Only in the last two has anyone used an electric motor. And the overwhelming majority of all material goods we use in daily life today have been developed within the present 800th lifetime’.

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

Best wishes,

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