Senscot Bulletin: 18.07.14

Dear members and friends,

I’m on the NHS waiting list for a cataract procedure – the pre-op assessment includes half an hour with cheerful nurse Shona filling in the forms. Please don’t be offended Laurence – but I’m expected to comment on your mental condition (apologetic smile). Do you ever think about getting older – how the aging process is affecting you personally. I think about it every day – I say – and with a smile of pleasure, launch into one of my favourite subjects. How people are far too reluctant to discuss ageing and death – a powerful taboo which causes unnecessary anxiety – how… But Shona looks slightly panicked at what she has unleashed; she only wants to tick a box – not a full philosophical discussion.
            Pleased to see this week – that in the context of a Lord’s debate – the subject of assisted dying has resurfaced. Bishop Desmond Tutu made a particularly brave public statement – in which he affirms his reverence for human life, but – in his words – ‘not at any cost’. He personally, does not want to be ‘revived’ – or kept alive artificially – nor would he mind his death being ‘assisted’. I think this is my own position; that to be able to choose death as a release from suffering – is one of the most basic human rights; and when the race is run – just let me depart in peace. Tutu is clearly angry about the treatment of Nelson Mandela at the end of his life; what they did to Madiba, he says, was disgraceful – an affront to human dignity.  See,

I wish I had been among the 600 who attended last weekend’s Common Weal ‘festival of politics’ at the Arches – Glasgow. The announcement of their intention to field candidates at the 2016 Scottish general election surprises me – but it’s bold and exciting. George Kerevan, who was there, wonders if going up against the main parties would undermine the support for Common Weal. See,  Scottish political commentator Gerry Hassan coined the term ‘Third Scotland’ to denote the unaligned, self-organising political activity which is spreading in Scotland these days – largely online; ‘Third Scotland’ because its separate from our two main political parties. These are the people who want independence – but not as nationalists; “they may be radical democrats, egalitarians, feminists, greens etc. all impatient with the closed complacent conversations of official Scotland.” I count myself part of this counterculture; no clear idea where it’s going but it feels the place to be – and the building momentum is mighty encouraging.  See,

The govt. has put its draft of the Community Empowerment Bill into the public domain and said ‘talk about it’ – this in itself is brave – and I hope it bears fruit – ‘cos to my mind it has basic flaws.  The emerging Scotland needs a new tier of democracy nearer our communities – it’s time to ‘kill or cure’ community councils; this whole issue has again been ducked.  The bill’s overarching flaw is its confusion between ‘engaging’ communities in public sector agendas – and enabling local people to pursue their own aspirations.  This single issue reveals a deep ambivalence about empowerment. See,  



In London last week, Helen Heap and Robbie Davidson launched their paper on ‘Builder Capital’ – a social investment (SI) model much nearer to the actual requirements of our sector. Les Huckfield, one of our trustees – attended on behalf of Senscot – and sends his impressions: the headline is that, thankfully, SI seems to be coming down to earth. Gone are the far-fetched projections of only a year ago; even among the London set – the growing realisation that most third sector activity will always require grant funding; or loans which are both patient and brave. The market which Big Society Capital described – was mostly imagined. See,


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Community Enterprise, Turning Point Scotland, Instant Neighbour, East Dunbartonshire Association for Mental Health, St Magnus International Festival, Machrihanish Airbase Community Company
EVENTS: Suffragette Jewellery Making Workshop, 24 Jul; Out of the Blue Flea Market, 26 Jul; Unique Dyslexic Get Creative Visual Art, 26 Jul; INSP Conference 2014, 12 Aug;
TENDERS: Care and Repair Handyperson Service – North Lanarkshire Council, Lochboisdale State Aid Brief – Lochboisdale Amenity Trust Ltd




The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Voluntary Action Scotland and Senscot are hosting a session on 6th August for Third Sector Interfaces (TSI’s) on ‘Working with our national Social Enterprise partners’. The purpose of the session is to support TSIs in how they and the national social enterprise support agencies can work together to support local third sector social enterprise activity. The event will include contributions from the national social enterprise support programmes and agencies, clarifying the different roles and support that they offer and improving the referral process for all; and mini surgeries with the national support agencies for some one-to-one support. Contact for more information.


For more SENs News, see


What Neal Asherson calls ‘barbaric neoliberalism’ still leaks into the UK; it occurs mainly through the financial services industry but our third sector is not immune; the blundered positioning of Big Society Capital can be blamed on this toxic leakage.  Someone called Dan Pallotta is doing the rounds in the USA – arguing that there should be no limit to how rich you can get in the charity sector.  We link to his chunterings because it does no harm to remind ourselves – why in the UK we make a clear distinction between private and public benefit.  See,


Senscot Legal assists a significant number of social enterprises to adopt SCIO format.  Some time ago OSCR approached us seeking collaboration – to ensure that these organisation and fully aware of what charitable status implies; this led to the drafting of a joint statement.  See,  SCVO asked for a short piece to circulate – addressing the question ‘Is charitable status right for you?”  Karina has drafted this memo of the basic recurring issues. See,


Senscot’s archive of profiles now numbers 572 and understandably it gets frequent visits.  Some will go back more than ten years – will need updating – may even have disappeared.  This week Kibble sent an updated profile – short and succinct.  See,  If you want to redraft yours – just send it in. See   


The recent final report of the Land Reform Review Group gave real encouragement to those of us who campaign for Scotland’s land to be owned by the people who live on it.  You may be aware that the govt. has hard copies of the report – which are available on request by emailing Dave Thompson at  let’s all do our bit to get this report into wider circulation. 


This week’s bulletin profiles Small Green Spaces (SGS) – a new social enterprise in Edinburgh, set up by three friends with over twelve years’ experience of community gardening. It is dedicated to turning empty city spaces into Small Green Spaces, using locally and ethically sourced products to create long lasting mini-gardens – in basement areas, front steps, balconies. Small Green Spaces supports local community projects working with disadvantaged people and look to help build self- esteem and encouraging physical and mental well-being through therapeutic gardening, composting, art and woodworking. For more see,


‘Love and Courage’, by Charles Bukowski "The one I liked was where Cagney fought in the ring – got punchy – so he could earn money to give his brother music lessons. The brother wanted to be a classical pianist – was said to have great talent – but they both came from the Lower East Side, and so Cagney got into the ring again and again for money to help the talented brother become a classical pianist. Cagney even loses the girl to his brother and it ends with his brother making it (at Carnegie Hall, if I remember) and Cagney punched-out and blind at his newsstand listening to the radio to his brother in the concert hall. And, of course, the girl is at the hall adoring, wild-eyed as Cagney warms his hands over a small fire. Alone in the cold he listens to the radio as his brother plays the piano, Cagney not knowing shit about music and hearing the final applause believes that all the beatings he has taken were worthwhile."


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