SENSCOT MEMBER’S BULLETIN No. 174, THURSDAY 17th APRIL 2003
Dear Members and friends
Business lunch in Glasgow restaurant with Tom. My invitation
– ‘to explore a joint venture’. But it’s not going well. I seem to be trying
too hard – reading wrong messages. “I recognise your accent,” I say to
waitress, “You’re from Argyllshire, aren’t you?” “New Zealand.” she replies.
Then I vigorously slag some character – turns out to be Tom’s pal. Finally, unknown
to me, someone has ordered capital items with office visa. “Your card has been
refused,” says the waitress. “Don’t worry,” Tom mumbles, taking out his own
card, “You can get the next one.” Both know – v. unlikely.
back to Queen St – guy of about 40 is sitting on the pavement in sunshine –
quite smartly dressed – leaning against wall, feet outstretched, can of
Carlsberg Special between his legs. He’s got a buzz on – looks so happy. “Hey,
big man,” he calls, “Gonna give me some money – I’m skint?” Stop and give him a
pound – for his candour. “This is what happens when you get married,” he
smiles. “Aye – it’s always her fault, “ I say sarcastically. “I swear on my
bairns’ life – she put me out for nothing.” “You shouldn’t swear on your
bairns’ life,” I say. He just smiles wickedly “They never die anyway” he says.
I spoke recently with the directors of Scotland’s housing
associations. With capital assets last year of £5.26 billion, the 186 HAs represent
a substantial sector all on their own, delivering an invaluable public service.
From a wider regeneration perspective the community-based HAs are uniquely
placed to become engines of social enterprise. They have proven capacity in
acquiring and developing assets under community control; they run businesses
generating surpluses in accordance with social aims; many have investment
capital in reserve funds. This raises important questions. Do housing
associations see social enterprise as an opportunity – an appropriate activity
for them and their communities? Do they want to be part of the bigger social
economy picture? Member Eddie Harkins’ article in March’s Housing magazine
looks at this issue in some depth: http://www.senscot.net/LD/articles/ComServHark(15.04.03).asp.
There is increased understanding, particularly south of the
border, that the normal loan products churned out by banks are not suitable for
most social enterprises – particularly those in transition from grant
dependency to a business operation. A new type of hybrid is evolving, combining
elements of grant-making and commercial lending. A good article this week in
‘Regeneration’ talks about such packages involving repayment terms and levels
of business support unheard of in the commercial sector. (http://www.senscot.net/LD/articles/NewTricks(16.04.03).asp).
An enterprise with only a 50/50 chance of success may still get a loan from
CAF’s ‘Venturesome Fund’ if its mission is considered worthwhile. Also the
‘Adventure Capital Fund’ will in some cases accept re-investment back into the
community rather than full financial repayment.
These innovative financial products reflect a high level of
political support for social enterprise in England, but the socially excluded
(poor people) don’t have as high profile champions, and less energy and
ingenuity is expended on their needs. But unscrupulous lenders who go round the
doors offering loans at interest rates which should be illegal, could in future
face competition from ‘friendly, affordable’ loan companies specialising in
deprived areas. This is the idea behind a community loan scheme being planned
in Hackney, London, by social enterprise Bootstrap Enterprises and the
community-led Environment Trust. More on the story: http://www.senscot.net/LD/articles/FriendlyLoan(16.04.03).asp
If they win the election in 2 weeks the SNP have pledged to
abolish Communities Scotland and divert the £96m to tackle child poverty.
That’s all we need! Over 2 years to appoint staff, and then abolished. The
Labour party manifesto is focussing on crime and anti-social behaviour, with
the emphasis on young ‘neds’. In fairness to McConnell, he didn’t think that up
last week. He has spoken for some time about this very real problem in
Scotland’s poorest estates. When Johann Lamont, MSP for Pollock, arranged a
public meeting on the subject, 1000 local people attended – that’s extraordinary.
But when feelings run high it’s too easy to react – when we need to respond.
Good balanced article by Ian S Bruce in Sunday Herald on the ‘ned’ phenomenon. http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/Neds(15.04.03).asp.
Member Gery Hassan writes: I’m organiser of The Ceilidh
Place weekends in Ullapool. Last one (March) was our second; our third, Nov
21-23, will be on ‘The Scots and Confidence’, looking at various themes:
education, health, leadership & emotional literacy. Prices for weekends
kept deliberately low to not exclude anyone, and while budget for November not
finalised, weekend price for Friday to Sunday (inc. two bands) will be approx.
£30.Want to come, suggest speakers or themes? Mail gerry.hassan@virginnet
Edinburgh Treefest 2003, weekend 14 -15 June, 11am-5pm
Inverleith Park. Community festival ‘to heighten environmental awareness,
promote sustainable living…and offer a really good time’; displays,
demonstrations, interactive crafts, children’s activities, information
exchange, entertainment, refreshments, etc. More: Four Winds Inspiration
tel. 0131 332 2229.
Senscot, Scotland UnLtd and Community Enterprise in
Strathclyde (CEiS) are proposing to establish a learning Academy for Scotland’s
social entrepreneurs during 2003, designed for established, rising and
potential leaders. We are keen to establish whether a market exists for such
provision. Some background on the academy, and a brief questionnaire for you to
let us know what you might want from it, are now up at http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/SSEA(15.04.03).asp.
Your feedback would be much appreciated.
Senscot is recruiting a Network Development worker:
particular focus on the four Scottish Coalfield areas. Pay18-23K depending on
experience. For application pack e-mail email@example.com,
tel. 0131 220 4104; details & job description on website http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/NetDevJob(11.04.03).asp
With the establishment of DTA Scotland, we will be providing
regular profiles on existing and emerging Development Trusts throughout
Scotland. This week: Kilmadock Development Trust, covering Doune and Deanston
villages, Stirling. Initiated through the Community Futures scheme, over 1500 villagers
have formed their own development trust. The board of this charitable company
has members from local community, Rural Stirling Housing Association and the
local Business Association. Already KDT has been involved in a strategy for a
range of initiatives and projects to meet the community’s diverse needs and
support and develop social and economic infrastructure of the area. For KDT,
the important issue ensuring their strategy is ‘owned’ by the community. More
info: www.senscot.net (Project Profile)
Muriel Gray vented her splendid rage this week at the
‘hate-filled, peanut-brained loudmouths’ in the tabloids who have apparently
been mocking the peace protestors: “For me, the display of humanity the peace
protesters expressed was one of the very few optimistic gleams in this
tar-black time. To yell ‘I told you’ at them is entirely to misread their
intentions. Their concern will not be with failure to have prevented this
disaster but with what the ordinary man or woman can still do to try to halt
the inevitable escalation of hatred, revenge, powerbroking and deceitful
political manipulation. In Scotland, at least there is one thing we can all do:
We can vote in the coming elections.” It will be exciting to observe whether
the turnout on May 1st is increased by folk newly politicised by the
tragedy and debasement of war – keen to become a working part of the process of
Writing bulletin on my mini-balcony on beautiful spring
afternoon. This poem – ‘Today’, by
Billy Collins – captures it: hope you like it.
“If ever there were a spring day so perfect, so uplifted by
a warm intermittent breeze, that it made you want to throw open all the windows
in the house and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage, indeed, rip the little
door from its jamb, a day when the cool brick paths and the garden bursting
with peonies seemed so etched in sunlight that you felt like taking a hammer to
the glass paperweight on the living room end table, releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage so they could walk out, holding hands and
squinting into this larger dome of blue and white, well, today is just that kind
That’s all for this week. We hope you and your family have a
happy Easter in the sunshine.
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