Senscot Bulletin: 15.08.08

Dear members and friends,

 In our wee village they’re putting up tents and bunting for the bi-annual Flower Festival – but they can’t get the grass cut for the rain and The Green is turning to mud.  It rained last summer too – persistent Scottish drizzle – but this year is different – driving downpours which overflow the gutters; in nearby South Queensferry the water table is so high, drains are backing up.  Emails recently from Sicily, Marrakesh, Malaga – so hot folk cant go outside – we’ve got record August rainfall.
 The dark skies make me want to stay indoors – but in wee places like this everyone has to muck in.  I don my wellies and waterproofs and ask Harry (the minister) what’s needing done – I’m allocated to help Jack set up trestle tables in the big marquee.  Retired last year, Jack has always worked the land, drives machines beautifully – can make a JCB dance.  He’s ages with me – though fitter he’s content to go at my pace – we work in harmony – in silence.  After about an hour someone brings a cup of tea and when we’re sat down Jack says: ”you know Kate’s left me?” – ”What! – no I didn’t know – what happened Jack?”  His eyes go a bit watery.  ”After I retired, she got more and more grumpy – last month she went to stay with her sister in Ardrossan – never came back!!”  ”But why? – did she say why?”  ”Said the final straw was my snoring – couldn’t stand it anymore.  29 years”, he mumbles – then he’s weeping silently.  I don’t know what to say.
The £30m Scottish Investment Fund (SIF) is due to go ‘live’ on September 1 – managed by Social Investment Scotland (SIS).  Over three years SIF will invest an average of £400k in approx 70 Social Enterprises.  Some of this investment will be repayable.  These will deliberately be ‘top end’ enterprises which can already demonstrate a business model which is sustainable.  Senscot (along with CEIS and Forth Sector) is discussing with SIS a special programme of support for social enterprises which show great promise – but are not yet ready for substantial investment.  Our aim is that some of the 70 beneficiaries – say a quarter – can be new-comers to the premier league.
 The £12m Third Sector Enterprise Fund (EF) is not so far advanced as SIF, with no announcement yet who will manage it, and is not likely to go ‘live’ before the turn of the year.  EF will make around 150 investments averaging £75k – aimed at making social enterprises financially sustainable.
When I hear the term ‘civic’ society – I think of the ‘local state’ school boards – hospital trusts – elected local councillors etc.  When I hear ‘civil’ society I think of Lord Beveridge’s phrase from his historic 1949 report Voluntary Action, ”Voluntary Action by citizens, not under the direction of any authority wielding the power of the state is one of the distinguishing marks of a free society”.  It is a mark of our times that the civic (the state) – is constantly encroaching on the civil (the citizen realm).  A case in point is the lottery.  Earlier this year Dharmendra Kanani, the Director for Scotland of the lottery, wrote to Antonia Swinson (CEO of the SSE Coalition) about what he called a new Strategic Partnership Board, with an independent chair, to provide a strategic overview of Third Sector infrastructure – which intermediaries should receive support.  Does this Board exist?  Who’s on it?  What is its remit?  Who presumes to determine the shape of the Third Sector? The crunch question – Is the People’s Lottery a function of civic or civil society?
Democracy can only be based on tiers of autonomy. It is most disappointing that the SNP, whose raison d’etre is the achievement of an autonomous Scotland, has no enthusiasm to revive local democracy. A letter last week from the Regeneration civil servants extols the value of the ‘standards of community engagement’ – how they are to be promoted to Planning Partnerships. The recent independent evaluation of these ‘standards’ confirms what many activists already know. They set the bar very low.
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: incl. posts with: EKOS, Community Enterprise, Tender specification from SCVO, The Scottish Government, Homeless World Cup, Fife Society for the Blind, Glasgow South East Regeneration Agency
EVENTS: Football and Regeneration – A place for community football?, 20 Aug, Kilmarnock; More Than Furniture 08 – Bigger, Better, Bolder, 27 Aug, Glasgow, Master Composter Training, Sep, Edinburgh; Social Enterprise World Forum, 5 Sep, Edinburgh; Learning Without Limits, 12 Sep, Angus; Study tour (Community Food and Health (Scotland)), 17Sep, Aberdeen; Sustainable Development Research Centre Annual Conference, 12-13Nov, Inverness
NETWORKS 1st News: For those who are aren’t able to make it to the Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh from 2-5th of September, why not come along the Fringe Forum. Three events in 3 social enterprise venues across Edinburgh including ‘A Social Enterprise Kite mark’ at The Melting Pot, ‘Common Ground’ looking at a variety of topics including SROI, recycling and community led regeneration at Dance Base in the Grass Market and big party to finish off with at Edinburgh’s famous Bongo Club. To book your place at the first two events email
Do you understand all about single outcome agreements?  No?  Neither do I – but I’ve reluctantly accepted that I need to know the basics.  A Single Outcome Agreement (SOA) now exists between Scottish Government and each of Scotland’s 32 councils – based on a template of 15 key national outcomes – one of these 15 relates to Third Sector activity.  The SOA agreed by your council can be read here.
A broad range of projects led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and its partners is described in a new online publication – HIE Review 2008.  Projects featured cover every area in the Highlands and Islands.
You may be aware the SIS (Social Investment Scotland) has a pool of what they call ‘Loan Ambassadors’ folk who in their day job, advise social economy organisations about finance – who, when appropriate, will raise the loan option.  There are about 40 them from across Scotland and they’ll be meeting soon for a briefing about SIF (Scottish Investment Fund).  See list
A leading conservative think tank said this week that Northern English cities like Liverpool and Sunderland are beyond revival – and that their citizens should move to London and the South East.  It’s all very well to laugh this off as ‘barmy’ but we need to ask – if the Tories gain power, are they going to maintain the flow of regeneration investment which Labour puts into poorer areas – and if they don’t, folk will drift south naturally.
WelFehd is a new fast growing West Lothian based social enterprise, formed in December 2006 that acts as a central buyer and distributor of fresh fruit and vegetables for food outlets. WelFehd strives to reduce the barriers associated with eating a healthy diet by supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to a wide range of local retailers. Produce is seasonal from West Lothian, Scotland or UK.  Current customers include 26 schools, workplaces and local businesses in West Lothian. 
Out in the garden last week (between showers) – heard the familiar calls – looked up to see a formation of wild geese.  Remembered Mary Oliver’s poem – think I’ve used it before – but it’s a good one.

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.  You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.  You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.  Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.  Meanwhile the world goes on.  Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.  Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.  Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

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

Best wishes,
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