Senscot Bulletin: 17-09-2004



Dear members and friends,


Last year they found that one of my cervical discs was so worn and loose that ‘your neck is unstable, Mr Demarco’. To prevent head falling off, disc was replaced by an implant – which looks like a porcelain polo mint. V grateful for their marvellous skill but not sure how polo mint could cope with punch on the jaw – so I keep a leery eye for potential trouble. Slavering in pubs was where I was most likely to get banjoed – so not drinking helps – but we never know what is round the corner.

            Sitting in Princes Street Gardens last week – right in front of me, three teenagers jump a young guy – punching and kicking him. Stand and shout ‘Hey – stop that!’ if they’d turned on me I was ready -to adopt the foetal position. Guy was not badly hurt but incident got to me – somehow shameful – keep imagining what John Wayne would have done. There’s a serious issue here though – do you intervene when something unacceptable is happening near you? Or do you ‘mind your own business’? Who’s responsible for policing the public realm? Unfortunately we all are.

            Older woman neighbour chaps my door – two 8-year old boys are on the roof of site hut opposite stripping the felt for amusement. If they were big I wouldn’t risk it but surely I can handle primary school kids. ‘Get down off that roof!’ – my most ferocious bellow. Brief hesitation, then ‘**** off’ and the finger. ‘I mean it – get down now or I’ll fetch the watchie.’ ‘There’s no watchie – we can do what we like.’ That about sums it up.



Whilst the huge overspend on the Holyrood project has been rightly investigated – many may consider it more worrying that our Social Justice department carries a huge underspend. Does the fault lie with civil servants (who keep leaving) or with the minister (who can’t make decisions) or, as Lord Fraser says is, it systemic? The nine pages of the Futurebuilders document could have been written in a month – it took twenty months and 12 rewrites – and now bears no resemblance to the policy review it was intended to fulfil. This indicates a department in a mess – which can’t get its business done – its money spent. To underspend resources allocated for Social Justice is shameful.



Aspects of Senscot’s modus operandi have been much copied in Scotland, which pleases us greatly. If you want advice – happy to share. Linda Singer writes from Inverness: ‘We held a ‘Making Connections’ day in Inverurie recently. Much of the success of our network can be credited to Senscot because we are technically a virtual organisation. Our approach has followed your style – an email list distributed for information with an option to follow up or not – to attend or not – but at least to know what’s on offer.

Something is working and the day was a great success I’ve attached a copy of our post event press release but a week later I’m still looking back and looking forward and generally thinking there are some great people out there making a real difference to their communities and at our event some key people – MPs, MSPs etc – got to meet them.’ (



As others see us – from the editorial of this month’s Social Enterprise magazine (English): ‘Futurebuilders Scotland is finally out and appears to have rescued some of the goodwill that was squandered during its delay. What’s not so clear in Scotland is whether this is a social enterprise agenda – i.e. about business – or a social economy agenda – about throwing money at lots of different organisations to give them all a go at delivering services.

Thankfully there’s no such quandary to be answer in England where the Social Enterprise Unit is now firmly settled in the bosom of the DTI Small Business Service. Key for the unit will be to pitch the social enterprise tent on the front lawn of a number of other government departments (health, education, Treasury etc) to ensure that other departments will recognise the value of the social enterprise brand as they determine how to deliver their services over the coming month and years.’

For better or worse our sector in Scotland is going in a different direction.


Senscot’s ‘Help Yourself’ pages on the website have been well received. We’ll be adding more stuff – in the meantime, we welcome any feedback:



YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice you send. But please send in any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:


JOBS: 59 vacancies, incl: Avante Consulting Ltd, the Jeely Piece Club, NCH Scotland, Positive Steps, Worktrack Ltd, Broxburn Family and Community Development Centre.


EVENTS: EQUAL ‘Making the Case’ seminars, Sept (Hamilton) and Nov (Glenrothes); Ernesto Sirolli – REAP (30 Sept), Senscot (1 Oct); Creating or Expanding a Social Enterprise, Renfrew, 4 Oct; Scottish Waste Management Conference, Exhibition and Awards Dinner, Glasgow, 5-6 Oct; Strategic Campaigning, Edinburgh, 12-13 Oct; Wilderness Ecotherapy Course, Knoydart, 10-16 Oct; CAVOC Training (various); SEDI, Community Benefit through Public Procurement, 19 Oct; Developing Social Enterprise, 21 Oct; CHE, Facilitation Skills Course, Linlithgow, 29-31 Oct.


For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’ at:  


The ‘fair trade’ movement has successfully developed a recognisable brand in the shops – a new research paper has been published arguing that ‘social enterprise’ should do the same thing. The paper, by Bob Allan for the National Consumer Council, presents a scenario for a ‘social enterprise or community benefit label’ which would make ‘a genuine offer of value to customers and communities. Such a move would require a definition of what a social enterprise is – to deter private and public sector gatecrashers. It’s an interesting idea.  (



Last week we profiled the East CampTrust in Benbecula who have purchased the former RAF base on the island to create a social enterprise park/incubator. This week its congratulations to the residents in Boddam in Buchan who have just won ‘first refusal’ to purchase RAF Buchan. This is Scotland’s new land reform act delivering its promise. Now they’ve got 6 months to dig up the money – around £1.5 million. (



Ernesto Sirolli has gained a reputation for developing a way to build enterprises with ordinary people in unlikely places. He calls it Enterprise Facilitation – based on listening to ordinary people with passion- delivering help and keeping the process under local control. Senscot is hosting a Seminar with Ernesto on Friday 1st October at the Friends Meeting Room, Edinburgh, 7 Victoria Terrace 1-5pm. If you want to come, e-mail (  



This week’s bulletin looks at Solstice, an Aberdeen based Social Firm working in partnership with Grampian Housing Association. Solstice provides a gardening service for Grampian Housing Properties.  This involves contract work for open space maintenance, assisted garden maintenance for less able tenants, as well as a private gardening service for the public.  Solstice intends to open a wholesale nursery in order to grow specialist plants and provide a supported, therapeutic workplace with training opportunities for members of the Solstice squad and for other groups.  For further info’, see the ‘Profiles’ section of our site:    



According to the ideas of Ernst Fritz Schumacher ‘it was logical and natural to produce, consume and organize as locally as possible, which inevitably meant on a smaller scale. Therefore, to him the question of size was an overriding and overarching principle. Beyond a certain scale the people involved are disempowered and a bureaucratic machine takes over.

‘Large hospitals, large factories and large businesses lose the purpose of enriching human wellbeing and become obsessed with maintaining and perpetuating the organization for its own sake. Therefore, it could be said almost invariably that if there is something wrong, there is something too big. As in economics, so in politics. So Schumacher believed in small nations, small communities and small organizations. Small, simple and nonviolent were his three philosophical precepts.’ – From Satish Kumar’s short biography of Schumacher (


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

Best wishes,



If you would like to receive this bulletin directly, e-mail

We now have a ‘pay page’ on our site. To give: