Senscot Bulletin: 17.01.14

Dear members and friends,

              During the festive break – I read the novel ‘Stoner’ by the late John Williams; published in 1965 – it had reasonable sales – then disappeared out of print; now 50 years later – it has become a mysterious bestseller all across Europe. I found it a beautiful, compassionate story – but so inexorably sad that I had to keep taking comfort breaks. While the book is located in the USA – it’s no surprise that it hasn’t caught on there. Stoner is a quiet self-contained academic – passive and long-suffering; the opposite of your noisy, kick-ass Hollywood hero. The story is about the significance of an individual life, the personal conflicts, defeats, victories which pass unrecorded by history; it also questions our appreciation of ‘ordinary’ lives.
            Stoner loves his work (vocation) as a university lecturer- awakening young minds to the power of literature, his job gives him his identity – it seems enough for him: “it seemed to him that the moment he walked in it was enough – and that he might not need a great deal more”. In spite of these ‘intervals of sweetness’ – the reader is forced to conclude that Stoner’s life is pretty much a failure; I wanted more for and from him than brave stoicism. John Williams once said that he considered Stoner a hero – who had a good life – better than most. I’d love to argue this with him – and to ask why he thinks his haunting ‘portrait of a failure’ has achieved bestseller status with a new generation of readers.

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Don’t know if many of our readers retain an interest in the English (London bubble) developments around social investment. A useful commentary is David Floyd’s Beanbags blog which is consistently balanced – his recent overview of 2013 is worth a look – see, The main distortion in England stems from Big Society Capital completely misreading the third sector market; unable to get their money out the door – they set about creating a ‘for profit social business’ market. It’s ironical that one of BSCs main partners in this is UnLtd – of which Senscot was a co-founder. This note of their joint roundtable about ‘Trust Engines” confirms our view – that any decision to stray outside regulated social enterprises is fraught with difficulties. See,

In linking to coverage of the referendum debate in the coming months – Senscot will try to maintain an attitude of courtesy and respect to both sides; one can hold a position with passion – without insulting those who disagree. John Sturrock, the professional mediator we linked to last week has been in touch to inform about the ‘protocol for a respectful dialogue’ – which Senscot considers a sound benchmark.

Following our link last week to Julian Baggiani’s advocacy of mutuals, see– this week the Telegraph tells us that Iain Duncan Smith has joined a credit union. Apparently all across the UK membership of credit unions is growing – as the range and quality of services they provide improves. I’m taking a serious look – but there’s some inbuilt resistance to changing banks. See,  

Pope Benedict took a look at the Vatican – the governance of the Catholic Church – and with commendable honestly – gave up. Although it’s early days – Pope Francis seems to be made of sterner stuff; the linked (overlong) article from the New York Times tells of a man with a mission. For me, this is a gripping and heroic story; can the humble determination of an old man – reform a giant monolithic institution – in the grip of corrupt privilege. The world watches. See,
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: RAMH, Moray Reach Out, Maryhill Burgh Hall Trust, Mellow Parenting, Greener Kirkcaldy, Ullapool Community Trust, LGBT Health and Wellbeing, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust
EVENTS: TRANSforming Arts, 19 Jan; Strengthening your Writing, 23 Jan; Out of the Blue Flea Market, 25 Jan; Edinburgh Vintage Sale, 1 Feb; Engaging Communities on Energy and Climate Change, 18 Feb;
TENDERS: Woodland Management Works: Ayr Ailsa Campus – Ayrshire and Arran NHS, Laggan Forest Trust – New Forest Centre and FC12 14 Security Shredding – Fife Council. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: There’s a lot of support out there for social enterprises in Scotland but it’s not easy to find your way around it all and to understand who’s who and who does what. Senscot has been talking for some time about developing a Map of Support to help social enterprises navigate their way around the support that’s available. We hope this can prove a useful resource for SE’s at various stages in their development. Whilst it is fairly comprehensive, it is still very much a work in progress – so if you can spot any glaring omissions – please let us know. Here it is again, Map of Support
For more SENs News, see

The Ready for Business (RfB) consortium will be continuing to deliver Scottish Govt’s ‘Developing Markets’ contract from April 2014, To ensure that the support available via the contract RfB has circulated a survey to around 600 public sector procurement contact this week. If you didn`t get it, you can contribute here. It’ll take 10 mins max. See,

Bookings are coming in fast for the forthcoming 3rd SE and Sport Conference. Date for your diary is 18th March 2014 at the Emirates arena (Chris Hoy Velodrome) in Glasgow. The theme of this year’s event is “SE & Sport – Inspiring our Leaders” – with keynote speakers including Frank Dick, former director of coaching for the British Athletics Federation and now one of the country’s top motivational speakers in the fields of sport and business – see . As well as Sport SEN members, we also hope to welcome colleagues from Sport for Development organisations, Governing Bodies, Local Authorities & Leisure Trusts as well as other social enterprise & third sector intermediaries.
You can book your place here, .

Senscot was slow to engage with Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) – but our participation has been very positive and we are now enthusiastic supporters – see, A new study from Glasgow Yooni confirms our experience and that of many SEN members – reporting that 54% of CJS youngsters go on to jobs or FE courses. SCVO, who manage CJS, claim that its overwhelming success justifies its expansion – and further Govt investment; I think the SE community would undoubtedly support this. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a member of Dundee SEN as well as being the latest subscriber the SE Voluntary Code of Practice ( ). Relationships Scotland Family Mediation Tayside and Fife (RSFM) was initially established in 1986 as Family Mediation Tayside. Now it is a member of Relationships Scotland and offers a range of services across Tayside and Fife. These services focus on mediation, conciliation, reconciliation and counselling with the object of assisting any persons concerned in matrimonial and family disputes of any kind – and can be tailored to specific needs. For more, see

My old friend David Donnison found himself at the London School of Economics recently – with fellow professors of economics and social studies; inevitably the informal chat turned to independence – most of them couldn’t understand why any intelligent Scot would be voting ‘yes’. Donnison says it was an afternoon that compelled him to clarify his own thinking; he shared his thoughts with the Scottish Review. See,
I found a good essay by Thomas H. Naylor about the philosophy of Albert Camus. I’m excited by his understanding of ‘rebellion’:

Unlike Jesus’s rebellion against the human condition which was grounded in hope, Camus’s was not.  Camus frequently reminded us that his rebellion was always without hope of affecting the human condition.  There was no “pie in the sky” in Camus’s world.  “I share with you the same revulsion from evil.  But I do not share your hope, and I continue to struggle against this universe in which children suffer and die.”
…. “human values have been replaced by contempt for others and the worship of efficiency, the desire for freedom by the desire for domination.  It is no longer being just and generous that makes us right; it is being successful.”  And what should we do about this?  Rebél.

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210