Senscot Bulletin: 16.12.11

Dear members and friends,

On Wednesday 21st December, Senscot closes for two weeks – next bulletin 6th January. I hope to be in my bolt hole on the southern shores of Andalucia – where even in midwinter – ‘el sol’ can still warm your tootsies (sometimes). A recharging of the batteries is all we can expect from a festive break – but sometimes occasionally – we can get a glimpse of our lives from a different perspective.
 Watching ‘It’s a wonderful life’ this week – Frank Capra’s brilliant Xmas fairy tale – I realise that this is a film about community life – about social capital. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is a lifetime good guy – helps everyone. But we find him worn out, discouraged, on the point of giving up – "I wish I’d never been born". The celestial powers send Clarence (an angel earning his wings) to show George how very different things would be if he really hadn’t been born. He sees the effect of his influence on family and friends; the impact on the whole town of ‘Bailey Building and Loan’ – the soft touch social enterprise he runs. George gets a new perspective – embraces his life with gratitude. Whether or not you believe in angels, it’s a wonderful film.
 Only left for me to wish all friends of Senscot a restful break – may we all find fresh meaning and energy for our work. As the poet, Max Ehrmann, said: "for all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams – it’s still a beautiful world".

On Monday, John Pearce, a pioneer of community enterprise in Scotland, died of cancer. In all the years I worked in Scottish communities – I can’t remember a time when John wasn’t there – as practitioner, teacher, thinker, writer. We have lost a champion and a friend – but his legacy stays with us, because John helped shape the sector where we work. His book, ‘Social Enterprise in Anytown’ remains for me the authentic manifesto for the future of our movement. Our sympathies are with John’s family at this time of loss. Here’s a tribute from his close friend Alan Kay – and funeral arrangements (Tuesday 20th Dec),

Launch on Monday of Scottish Govt’s new Regeneration Strategy; money’s tight so this is mostly a list of existing stuff – bringing new focus. Community led activity gets more emphasis – the ‘community anchor’ approach – much trawled in recent years by LPL and Senscot – seems to have become official policy.  In recent months, I’ve heard several Scottish Govt ministers voicing support for the community led approach.  I’m left wondering why I remain unconvinced – a sense that they don’t understand what’s involved. Local community groups are still very much the poor cousins of our third sector family; we need a serious community sector strategy (like the excellent SE Strategy of 2007) to release the potential of civil society. See,

The debate about social investment will rumble on for some time to come – (it would help if Big Society Capital could make up its mind what it wants to be when it grows up). If it’s true – that Cohen and O’Donohoe intend social enterprise to become a new ‘asset class’, attractive to the money markets – then I think this is deluded nonsense. I share John Pearce’s position – set out in ‘Social Enterprise in Anytown’ – that the third sector requires its own financial institutions (mutuals) – based on social enterprise values – rather than having to become ‘bankable’ – in the style of private sector banks. Scotland needs a social entrepreneur – with banking savvy – to create a social enterprise bank.

Successful applicants to The Enterprise Growth Fund (administered by the Wise Group) will have been hearing the good news in recent days. What many people may not know is that yesterday (15th Dec) Scottish Govt injected a further £2m into the pot, taking the overall figure available for this year to £6m. This additional investment will allow the Fund to support around 60 organisations – as opposed to the 40 who would have benefited from the original pot. This move has to be warmly welcomed across the social enterprise community. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week:
JOBS: Voluntary board member – Scottish Community Foundation, Co-ordinator – St Enoch’s Hogganfield Parish Church, Young Carers Education Officer – Stirling Young Carers Education Project
EVENTS: Free 2 Day Advanced Tender Writing Course – Just Enterprise, REHIS COURSES: Edinburgh Cyrenians, British Sign Language Training – Deaf Action
TENDERS: Rural Skills Advisor, Environmental and Greenspace Activity, Development Of Sports Facilities and Oak Tree Housing Association Ltd Open Space Maintenance 2012-2013

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes:  With this being the last Networks 1st Newsletter of 2011, we thought we’d end the year listing developments this year. There are currently 24 SENs – 17 local and 7 thematic – with almost 350 social enterprises engaged. They continue to offer peer support and promote the work of social enterprise at a local level as well across respective themes. We have hosted 4 main events – the first Social Enterprise and Sport Conference; the 5th ‘Fit for Purpose’ Conference; Senscot Seminar and the 7th Conference/Ceilidh at New Lanark. A number of SENs are now actively engaged or partners within local Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs). This has not been without difficulties but we hope 2012 will see these relationships become more productive. In the year ahead, we will continue to play an active role, along with Social Firms Scotland and SE Scotland, in continuing to support SENs and their members as best we can.
For more Networks News, see

I went along to Parliament on Tuesday – to the inaugural meeting of the Cross Party Group on Social Enterprise – chaired by Chic Brodie, a SNP backbencher. Good turnout – but the wide range of interests and levels of understanding will make coherence difficult. This is not a reason not to try. SE Scotland will shape for next meeting in March. See attendees,

Faisel Rahman of Fair Finance – is a trusted commentator on social exclusion – here’s his take on the pay day loans controversy, Nearer home, North Glasgow is the first Housing Association to step forward to host a new branch of Scotcash – in its refurbished office in Springburn. Here are the opening remarks of Steve Inch (Scotcash chair),

This week’s bulletin profiles an arts based social enterprise, located in Argyll, that offers a selection of products built around  key skills  that are geared towards supporting sustainable communities. The Walking Theatre Company (TWTC) is committed to building sustainability and identity within Scotland’s communities. Their work actively promotes access to theatre, culture, heritage, healthy living, community, landscape and environment.   Their commercial sector work helps support projects for the wider community benefit, both as a service provider and as an employer. For more, see

Freedom to protest peacefully when ‘the system’ – elected or not – fails to respond to our grievances – is a fundamental human right. That’s how I feel about the greed and amorality of our financial systems – which is why the ‘occupy’ protesters around the world have my support and gratitude. This week, Time magazine chose, as it’s 2011 ‘person of the year’ – "An anonymous, suitably masked protester’; because, said the magazine, that is who most influenced world events in the past year; redefining people power; reshaping global politics. A good call. See,

Audre Lorde (1924-1992) was an acclaimed poet and writer – but was also a formidable campaigner for black women – in the ‘70s and ‘80s and an important voice: "I began to ask each time: what is the worst that could happen to me if I tell the truth? Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed – ‘disappeared’ or run off the road at night….. our speaking out will permit other women to speak – until laws are changed – and lives are saved – and the world is altered forever"
And again she wrote: "When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision – then it becomes less and less important whether I’m afraid".

That’s all for this week – and for this year too.

A guid new year to yin and a’ from your pals at Senscot.

Best wishes,


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