Senscot Bulletin: 17.02.12

Dear members and friends,

 I really enjoy the ‘Nordic Noir’ genre of fiction – and recently a friend introduced me to a new character – an Icelandic detective called Erlendur; I’m now reading my fourth of the series.  The author Arnaldur Indridason – writes, without compromise, for Icelanders – so I’m learning about the recent and current history of this tiny nation (Iceland’s population is 324,000).  The hero, Erlendur, is the usual solitary, conflicted character – struggling with the demons from his own personal history.  The books are imbued with the profound melancholy – so typical of Scandinavian fiction – and I find them irresistible.
 Saturday evenings – 9pm on BBC 4 has long been my favourite TV slot.  Successive series of Wallander – the Killing – Spiral – Borgen – have set a new benchmark in TV drama.  This week saw the start of Inspector Montalbano – a highly successful Italian TV series based on the novels of Andrea Camilleri.  Salvo, the inspector, is an attractive man, with dark flashing eyes.  I love the Sicilian setting – the light – the sea – the architecture; the respect for food and life’s good things – ciao bella, kiss, kiss.  But I already miss the magnetic screen presence of Sarah Lund.  It’s interesting that I don’t want my heroes to have a good time – I want them to be alone and confused.  But maybe that says more about me than anything else. (See end piece).

This week, under pressure from the European Commission, the English Govt was obliged to adopt a definition of SE; it chose to endorse the criteria for the Social Enterprise Mark. Readers may be aware that, in late 2009, Senscot ended our involvement with the SE Mark – when, late in the day, the goalposts were moved – to allow profit distribution of 50%. Our consultations across Scotland were of a single mind – the bar was being set too low. The question, of course, is what now? If the Scottish civil servants follow the lead of their English counterparts (a common route) – Scotland will be landed with a definition which we have already rejected. The defining characteristic of a SE is its ‘asset lock’. To say it is 50% asset locked is just nonsense. See,

For practical reasons, I don’t believe that social impact bonds (SIBs) will ever become popular – they’re too complicated.  Payment is linked to successful outcomes – over several years – very difficult to measure; it’s all too vague to become a serious investment option.  This also seems to be the view of bankers – but my objection to the idea of SIBs, is more serious – it is that ‘payment by results’ damages the delivery of caring services – by encouraging suppliers to cherry-pick clients in accordance with outcomes required.  What will happen to the most needy – whom it doesn’t ‘pay’ to work with.  The third sector matches human need with human compassion.  Maximising investor dividend must never be allowed to become part of this core transaction.  See SIB’s event in Scotland in March,

Compass, the centre left pressure group, is currently running a campaign called ‘End the big 6 energy fix’ which alleges that the UK’s 6 major energy suppliers are profiteering at the expense of citizens.  Philip Blond, of the Respublica think tank, has published a report claiming that with 99% of the energy market, the big 6 have a stranglehold. He calls his report ‘re-energising our communities’ – arguing that local energy production of renewables is the way to end this closed shop. Because of the work of Community Energy Scotland, most of Blond’s exemplars are from up here. See,

Since its formation in 2007, Firstport has become a key part of the SE landscape in Scotland – playing the critical role of providing funding, support and advice to aspiring social entrepreneurs/enterprises. The Social Value Lab has recently completed a report, evaluating the impact and added value of Firstport’s awards programme between May 2009 and Sept 2011. During this time, it distributed £1.5m, through 265 awards, to 232 aspiring social entrepreneurs. Here, Jonathan Coburn (Social Value Lab) provides some observations and a couple of recommendations. One of Jonathan’s themes is that it’s not just about the money – the right support and advice is vital as new social entrepreneurs start out on their journey. See Jonathan’s blog plus full report,

Gerry Hassan writes inviting contributions to a new book to be called ‘The Seven Wonders of Scotland’ – publication October 2012. You are asked to imagine a physical creation which will illuminate the deeper realities of what Scotland could become. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Scottish Churches Housing Action, Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, Stirling District Citizens Advice Bureau Limited, Edinburgh University Students Association, Action for Children, EVH, Social Care Ideas Factory, Lothian Centre for Integrated Living (LCiL), Community Enterprise
EVENTS:  Community Sport Thriving in the 21st Century, 23 Feb; Out Of The Blue Flea Market, 25 Feb; Body Talk: Killing Us Softly, 27 Feb; Creating Enterprise to enable Social Benefit, 29 Feb; 
TENDERS: Repair and maintenance work in connection with sports facilities, Construction and trades sub-contractor framework for works and services, Business Gateway Services for Lanarkshire, Summerhill Green Space Art Project. For info, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: The 2012 Fit for Purpose: Social Enterprise and Health Conference takes place on Thursday 3rd May at The Trades Hall in Glasgow. This year’s themes will include: Asset based approaches to health improvement; Community Benefit Clauses (CBC) and Public Social Partnerships (PSP). A full programme will be available in the coming weeks but for now, get the date in the diary
For more Networks News, see

Senscot Legal (SL) has now completed its first year of trading. During this time, it has assisted around 120 SEs and third sector organisations. Their services include Company structures, Governance, Directors’ duties, Employment Issues, Property/Leases etc. See flyer,
As well as providing an affordable and high quality service, SL (as a social enterprise itself) also aims to offer a genuine alternative to the conventional source of legal advice available to third sector organisations in Scotland. If SL can be of help to your organisation, contact Alan or Karina at .

The ‘Developing New Markets’ programme has produced a new Commissioners’ Survey – targeting people directly involved in public sector commissioning in Scotland. Feedback from the Survey will be important in shaping the programme and ensuring it meets the needs of commissioners and procurement teams. See,

News from Mull of the opening of the new An Roth Community Enterprise Centre. The £1m plus building has been designed to the highest environmental standards including sheep’s wool insulation, ground source heating and LED lighting. An Roth (The Hub in English) and will offer the communities of Mull and Iona office space, meeting rooms and a training suite. See,

The Vivarium Trust is one of the champions of Co-Housing in Scotland. They are holding an event, "Co-Housing: a positive choice for lifestyle, health and wellbeing" on 6th March at the Carnegie Conference Centre in Dunfermline. See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles an organisation that supports a distinct but growing type of community enterprise – community-owned shops. The Community Retail Network (CRN) was established in 2004 to support community-owned retailing. This can vary from small communities seeking to retain their local shop, post office or petrol pumps to larger urban areas trying to provide better access to affordable and healthy food. In December 2011, they produce a new directory of community-owned shops as well as a guide for setting up and running them. See,

Raymond Chandler wrote this about Philip Marlowe, the character he invented – whom I came to adopt as my archetypal hero.  It’s not much of a life is it?

 "Marlowe is a lonely man, a poor man, a dangerous man, and yet a sympathetic man.  I think he will always have a fairly shabby office, a lonely house, a number of affairs, but no permanent connection.  I think he will always be awakened at some inconvenient hour by some inconvenient person to do some inconvenient job.  No one will ever beat him, because by his nature he is unbeatable.  No one will ever make him rich, because he is destined to be poor.  But somehow, I think he would not have it otherwise, and therefore the idea that he should be married, is quite out of character.  I see him always in a lonely street, in lonely rooms, puzzled but never quite defeated…"

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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