Senscot Bulletin: 16-11-07

Dear members and friends,

Staff nurse Helen is fitting me with a 24 hour blood pressure monitor. ‘Every half hour it beeps – sit still. The arm cuff inflates automatically – takes a reading – beeps again – all clear. There’s nothing for you to do. Wear it till 11am tomorrow, then switch off and bring it back here.’ For some reason I find the beeps and the arm squeeze pleasing – a friendly affirmation. I use it as a prompt to return my attention to the present moment – to really notice the here and the now. (This usually lasts about 30 seconds). Afternoon meeting with colleague Sara – explain about monitor – how I may need to step out. During heated discussion about work beeping starts – ‘Excuse me’ – sit in corridor while it does its thing. When I return Sara is contrite ‘Was it me – something I said that raised your blood pressure?’ ‘No’ I smile, ‘Its not a panic alarm – it just takes readings’.
       The most dramatic part of the 24 hour experience was during the night. From lights out at 10pm – till 7 in the morning the blasted thing inflated 18 times – woke me 18 times. I recall fragmented glimpses into amazing dreams – some mundane – some, the demented visions of Hieronymus Bosch. The conscious persona we groom for everyday use, sits on top of a primal soup of terror and chaos. I’d forgotten the power of this underworld. It’s no wonder that we sometimes awaken in fear, from the realm where our demons roam free.

John Swinney’s budget has delivered a resounding vote of confidence in the Third Sector – as good as his word. It’s also evident that he ‘gets’ social enterprise – not just record investment, he’s got COSLA to agree to engage with our own sector. Alex Salmond said on Wednesday evening ‘For social enterprise this is the start of a new chapter’. Good times! Roddy McDonald, who heads up social enterprise for the Government, is on top of his brief – knows our sector well – confidence is spreading through his team. We can now expect a refreshed social enterprise action plan – informed consultation – new mechanisms. By April 2008 Scotland could have the most effective social enterprise support infrastructure in the UK. The question then becomes – can our front line troops do the business? Go to it guys.

Senscots quest for Lottery funding began in June 2006 – their decision was ‘no – but try again’. We’ve done more work – we are ready to re-apply – but the BLF website now tells us that all applications for the DINC stream are to be considered as a single batch – all decisions announced in October 2008. This means that Senscots new application will take a full year to process – over two years since the outset – this is abysmal and begs the question – is BLF fit for purpose? The word on the street is that the cause of this latest delay is BLFs intention to assemble a new committee (to include government officials) to apply a strategic overview of Third sector infrastructure. Senscot can’t confirm the membership or remit of any such group – but if this rumour is true it raises an important question. Is it in the best interests of our sector in Scotland that our civil servants and our Lottery administrators determine jointly who shall be funded? A degree of policy alignment betw!
 een them is to be commended – but joint appraisal of every application is big brother country.

I went Last Friday to hear Edgar Cahn, at Colin’s Social Capital conference – mucho impressed. He contends that there are two economies. The monetary economy – private and public sectors – and the core economy which is not monetarised and comprises: Family, neighbourhood, community, civil society. Society’s main operating system is the core economy and it is to our peril that we have lost sight of this. In the attached paper, he sets out the key actions for strengthening the core economy. Cahn spoke from the heart – convincing and inspirational.
Any spread of power from the centre has to be welcome – as is our SNP administration’s determined empowerment of councils. The test, though, will be whether these councils will in turn pass power and resources down to the thousands of wee local groups which build our communities. The Local People leading campaign (LPL), of which Senscot is a founding partner, aspires to be a gathering point for groups and individuals in Scotland who support strong and independent communities. LPL will showcase the councils which empower their communities – and those which don’t. Already 62 groups and over 300 individuals have registered support and all supporters will receive fortnightly e-mailed BRIEFINGS of what’s going on across the country, both on the ground and in policy discussions. This is the current BRIEFING.

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: 22 vacancies, incl. posts with: Drake Music Scotland, FirstPort, Forth Sector, Big Issue Scotland, Enable Scotland, Edinburgh Cyrenians, Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland
EVENTS: 13 events, incl Social Return on Investment (SROI) – official launch of Six Mary’s Place Guest House and Forth Sector Restart studies, 20 Nov, Edinburgh; Developing Community Assets, 20 Nov, Glasgow; Ethnic Minority Social Enterprise Showcasing Conference, 26 Nov, Edinburgh; ASC Social Firms Network Group, 10 Jan, Edinburgh;

More news of comings and goings in the sector. Social Firms Scotland announced last week that Pauline Graham will be covering as CEO during Leona McDermids maternity leave. Pauline, who is taking up post in January, will be well known to many through her role leading the Equal programme in Scotland.  We wish her all the best in her new role.

First Port still has a couple of places available on its inaugural ‘IDEAS into ACTION’ programme that will running the end of next week. If youre interested, see here

A Senscot reader has emailed his experience in trying to raise awareness with his employers (a statutory agency) of the work of social enterprises. As a former employee within the sector, he tried to open up some potential procurement opportunities. Unfortunately, it makes for uncomfortable reading. See,

In contrast to the above, here’s an example of the system working. In this invitation to tender, the government’s procurement directorate quotes the social enterprise strategy. Joined up government – yippee!

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that is providing a new extreme sports centre for young people in Aberdeen. Transition Extreme opened this year and offers a range of activities that include a huge indoor skatepark, a dramatic 15m high climbing centre, ‘2 on 2’ basketball court, cafe and recreation areas, band practice studios and a major visitor centre. In addition, three leading retailers in Tiso, Alpine Bikes and Boarderline (skateboard and snowboard shop) are located in the premises down by the beach in Aberdeen. Transition Extreme now boasts almost 2,000 full members. For more info, see

 Edgar Cahn ended his speech last Friday with this poem
‘I asked for knowledge – power to control things; I was granted understanding, to learn to love persons. I asked for strength, to be a great person; I was made weak, to become a better person. I asked for wealth, to make friends; I became poor, to keep friends. I asked for all things, to enjoy life; I was granted all life, to enjoy things. I cried for pity; I was offered sympathy. I craved for healing of my own disorders; I received insight into another’s suffering. I prayed to God for safety- to tread the trodden path; I was granted danger, to lose track and find the Way. I got nothing that I prayed for; I am, among all people, richly blessed.’

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

Best wishes,

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