Senscot Bulletin: 18.03.11

Dear members and friends,

 I’ve been impressed with the behaviour of the Japanese people – in the face of the terrible afflictions which have visited their country.  According to that remarkable book ‘The Spirit Level’ – Japan is one of the most equal countries in the world – which links to resilience – their ability to hold together in crisis.  One can’t help drawing comparisons with the USA – one of the least equal countries in the world.  When hurricane Katrina wrecked the Louisiana coastline in 2005, we saw on TV the virtual collapse of civil society; the poorest victims disgracefully abandoned by the authorities to sink or swim – amid murder, looting, mayhem.  I’ve been pondering how we Scots would behave in crisis – how Americanised have we become?
 Learned this week of a new independent film – being made on a shoestring – about Donald Trump’s Scottish project (see below).  Talk of super golf courses is, of course, the gloss; the reality will be major residential estate for rich people – up to 1500 houses in gated enclosures – on a site which breaches all our environmental laws; a stretch of untouched coastal wilderness north of Aberdeen – where citizens once enjoyed  freedom to roam.  We Scots like to think of ourselves as an egalitarian people – the bairns of Rabbie Burns – somehow less swayed by wealth and rank.  I wish!  What this international hustler envisages, is alien to our culture and values – he should have been chased.  I understand the film is to be called – “You have been Trumped”

Civil society in Scotland is greatly diminished by the absence of an elected tier of local democracy which touches our communities. What we refer to as `local` Councils have an average population of 162,500 – which degrades the word `local`. Last night I attended a meeting in our Parliament building – hosted by the writer and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch – entitled “Is small still beautiful”. Good turnout – good speakers – but as we approach an election, none of the Parties offer a reform of Local Govt – it doesn’t feel imminent. Scotland needs a broad, single issue campaign to build awareness and appetite. Riddoch has the spirit and media savvy to be an important part of this. See,

I’m not enthusiastic about joint working between our sector and private companies; my personal experience, over many years, has been mostly disappointing – sometimes demeaning.  But such is the popularity of social enterprise these days – that the more alert of the UK’s major PLCs are moving to include SEs in their supply chains.  Good article which suggests that the best of them understand – that developing relationships (and due diligence) will be more onerous – but they’re willing to make this investment.  PLCs which have social enterprise ‘preferred suppliers’ will have an edge in tendering for public contracts.  In Scotland, ReadyforBusiness (see below) helps to match up private contractors with social enterprise. A notable example is Unity Enterprise’s catering contract for the Velodrome in Glasgow. We hear also of a national construction company making contact with local social enterprises in Aberdeen in relation to a major contract in the city. See,

Scottish Govt support for the development of social enterprise across the country will henceforth be delivered – at a local level – by the new Third Sector Interfaces; all Interfaces have received an allocation to deliver this service as one of their four functions. Networks 1st is trying to keep an eye on these arrangements – to monitor how – and by whom – social enterprises are to be supported. In a number of areas, we are encouraged to see clear evidence of Interfaces actively engaging with the local social enterprise community. However, in others, it remains an uphill struggle – with the remnants of the historic support infrastructure trying to resist change. Here’s a circular that went out last week from the Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations. See,

Bulletin reader Mike Nicholson connects us to the inspiring story of Anthony Baxter – (an independent film – maker from Montrose) who, against all the odds, is making a film about the impact on local residents of Donald Trump’s development in Aberdeenshire.  By appealing on the internet (crowd sourcing) he has raised around £6k worldwide to complete the work – 40,000 YouTube hits in one week.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Engender, Gay Men’s Health Scotland, Turning Point Scotland, Wasps, Voluntary Action Fund, Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People Project, The Advocacy Project, Lendrick Lodge, Shelter Scotland
EVENTS: Business Acquisition Masterclass, 22 Mar; Telling my story: Analysing and reporting outcomes, 24 Mar; Tackling Drug Deaths: Putting Evidence into Action, 30 Mar; What are my outcomes? 7 Apr;
TENDERS: Dalgety Bay Town Centre Study; Garden Aid Grounds Maintenance Services; Framework Agreement for Replacement Kitchens and Bathrooms; Supply and delivery of groceries and provisions;

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes:  The 5th `Fit for Purpose: Health and social enterprise` Conference is taking place today in Edinburgh (See attendees, Panellist Andrew Jackson (Joint Improvement Team, Scottish Govt) told the Conference that the Scottish Govt`s `Change Plans` are now available online. The `Change Plans` will see £70m being invested in improving the delivery of services across the health, social care and housing spectrum. Local implementation will be agreed through Community Planning Partnerships, including local Interfaces. Social enterprises have an important role to play in contributing to the success of this initiative. Here’s the updated list of Interface contacts, including their annual allocation as well as the projected Change Fund allocation. See,
For more Networks News, see

This week, Jackie Killeen (acting director) reiterated the support of the Big Lottery in Scotland for communities to take control of local assets.  She referred to the achievements of rural Scotland over the years in this regard – and emphasised the potential of active communities in our towns and cities to follow suit.
Last month, NESTA published the report ‘Growing Social Ventures’ – written by the Young Foundation – and purporting to be ‘the first comprehensive survey of the institutions that support social ventures`: Bulletin reader Alistair Grimes (Rocket Science) has penned a 6 page critique of the report which is less than favourable – suggesting that the Young Foundation – ‘has drifted into an area where it lacks the time or the expertise to deliver.’

SURF, Scotland’s independent regeneration network, released a manifesto last week – which provides an excellent platform to discuss “Delivering Community Regeneration in Hard Times”.  The section on empowering community action, recognises the deficiencies of Community Planning Partnerships – that the power and status of community representatives needs clearer guidance.  It also recognises that communities need their own mechanisms – the power to act for themselves and to own assets.  Surf will host an event during April so that members and supporters can discuss the manifesto with MSP’s from all parties.  See,

The ReadyforBusiness (RfB) contract from Scottish Govt was due to end at the end of March. We`re pleased to announce that this has now been extended till end of June. RfB is operated through a partnership between Senscot, Social Firms and CEiS. For more, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Edinburgh that is looking to turn empty city spaces into `Small Green Spaces`, using locally sourced products to create long lasting mini-gardens. All Small Green Spaces` products (pots, plants, compost and decorations) are sourced from community groups like Gorgie City Farm, Redhall Walled Garden and the Columcille Centre. As well as helping them generate income, they will also be reducing their carbon footprint by delivering direct to your door. Small Green Spaces are holding their launch event at the Columcille Centre, Morningside (Edinburgh) on 27th March. See more,

My latest book purchase is Julian Baggini’s `The Ego Trick` – fascinating stuff. :- “Try it.  Close your eyes, focus on your thoughts, feelings and sensations and try to observe the `you` having them.  Philosophers and thinkers from the Buddha to David Hume have attempted something similar and discovered no one was home.  All they found was this thought, that feeling, those sensations and so on.  Where you might expect to find the pearl of the self, all they discovered was a bundle of experiences.  So does that mean there is no `you` after all? Not so fast.  Just because you can’t catch a rainbow doesn’t mean rainbows don’t exist.  It simply means they are not solid objects in space.  Something similar is true of `you`.  You exist all right.  But the everyday sense that there is some thing which is `you`, some core of being, is what I call the Ego Trick.”  Read some more,

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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