Senscot Bulletin: 18.09.09

Dear members and friends,

To connect with some friends living in Spain, I got a mobile phone before I left – but I can’t get the hang of it – never even sure when it’s on – so I’m not going to persevere.  My home phone is ex-directory – I probably prefer being unreachable – is this an introvert/extrovert thing?  I’m more relaxed about an email approach – even to/from strangers – less intrusive.  I heard a famous writer read at a recent book festival – I emailed his publisher asking permission to circulate the piece with the bulletin.  If he chooses to ignore this suggestion (as he has so far), I’m comfortable with that.  We all have a right to privacy.
The spread of texts, twitters, facebooks etc suggest that we live in an age when ‘connecting’ is seen as important – as an end in itself; but I’m not convinced.  In Walden (1854), Henry Thoreau wrote, ‘‘We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas – but it may be that Maine and Texas have nothing to communicate’’.  That is essentially my position.
Growing up we come to realise that we are, all of us, on our own – that ultimately the human experience is private and solitary.  Technology can give the illusion of intimacy – but we humans are mostly remote from each other.  To cope with the anxiety of this – some people drink, some interact on social websites – others pen a weekly column of musings – all of us getting by as best we can.

One of the cleverest things the SNP administration has done is to devolve increasing responsibility to local govt – including the support of the third sector in their area.  This of course means that those Local Authorities which don’t understand (or even dislike) what we do – can do serious damage to our work.  It is nevertheless fitting that these issues should be ‘sorted out’ at local and regional levels – gradually democracy will benefit; Scottish Govt has told the third sector in each Local Authority area to organise a ‘Single Interface’ to relate to the Community Planning process.  Senscot, in partnership with SSEC, has commissioned a quick piece of research to ascertain how many Single Outcome Agreements (SOA) acknowledge social enterprise. Let’s not be mealy mouthed – these results are disappointing. This is going to be a long, hard campaign and regional social enterprise networks (LSENs) have a crucial role to play. Here’s a short summary of initial findings,

This autumn, Scottish Govt. will decide which segment of the Third Sector is to benefit from the Dormant Back Accounts (DBA) money.  Lets hope it’s not frittered away in one scattergun splurge; £40 million is enough to create a permanent endowment – to make a difference.  Senscot and Local People Leading have jointly proposed a mechanism to provide our 20 poorest communities with an independent income in perpetuity.  Now that would be community empowerment!

Senscot remains active around the refinement of the UK wide social enterprise ‘identifier’ – which will inform customers that a business espouses certain values – “trading for people and planet”.  For a while there was a move to widen – and we thought dilute – the criteria for qualification, but things are back on track for a November roll out. Senscot`s remit is to ensure that the process up here has a distinctly Scottish dimension.  Here’s the latest position.

A few months back, there was some concern about the criteria for the Enterprise Fund being properly understood (building capacity as opposed to project funding), with many applications appearing `wide of the mark`. This no longer appears the case with a stream of strong applications flowing in. There’s now a danger demand will outstrip supply. Here’s a full list of successful applicants.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 
JOBS: The Scottish Government, Depression Alliance Scotland (DAS), Edinburgh Cyrenians, Castle Furniture Project, Scottish Drugs Recovery Consortium, YMCA George Williams College, The GRAB Trust
EVENTS: Central Scotland Forest Conference 2009, 30 Sep; Volunteer Recruitment Fair, 1 Oct; Motivating Staff and Overcoming Difficulties, 1 Oct; East Perthshire Walking Festival, 4 Oct; Stress Less, 7 Oct; Assertiveness Skills, 8 Oct; SOL’s Navigation to…Self Directed Support, 21 Oct

NETWORKS NEWS:  Colin writes: Bookings are open for this year’s Dragons` Den at the Ceilidh.  Once again there is a £5,000 prize sponsored by RBS and Unity Enterprise for the winner.  The second prize is a consultancy package from Rocket Science.  The last 3 years winners have all been from Argyll and Bute – with each saying the award has made a significant difference to their organisation.  Booking forms for the Dragons Den and Ceilidh now available, see
For more Networks News, see

Quick reminder that the Social Enterprise Awards closing date is looming up. If you’d like to submit an application, see
The Ready for Business initiative is gathering momentum with over 60 organisations having registered on the site. This is an opportunity for social enterprises (of all sizes) to get support in accessing procurement opportunities either on their own or in partnership with others as well as promoting Community Benefit Clauses.  If you want to register, see

Tracey Slaven, who heads up the Third Sector Division of Scottish Govt, is leaving – to be replaced on 21st Sept by Christine Carlin, whom we understand, has been on secondment to Perth and Kinross Council.  We wish them both luck in their new appointments.  During the 10 years of Senscot, I’ve lost count of the number of civil servants and structural changes we’ve had.  The civil service is proud of its generalist system – but I don’t believe the Third Sector in Scotland is best served by so much churning.

Since its inception in 1999, Senscot has always had a close relationship with the Big Issue. This collaboration continues to this day through web links to our respective job pages. We are, therefore, delighted to pass on our congratulations as the Big Issue magazine celebrates its 16th birthday. Look out for the special edition – on the streets from 21st Sept. This is one not to miss.

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Dumfries and Galloway.  The Wigtown Book Festival Company has hosted a premier book festival for the last 7 years in Scotland’s National Book Town.  The festival includes talks, performers, famous authors, book signings, workshops and readings along with fringe festivals such as the Children’s literary Festival. This year’s event runs from 25th Sept – 4th Oct.  For more, 

Since his 2005 book, ‘The Impact of Inequality’ – Senscot has been showcasing the work of Richard Wilkinson – showing the devastating effects of inequality across the world.  Wilkinson’s 2009 book, ‘The Spirit Level’ was co-written with Kate Pickett – whom SURF is bringing to Scotland to deliver their annual lecture on 5th November.  Not one to miss.

From ‘Unjust Rewards’ by Polly Toynbee and David Walker – on the corrosive effects of inequality.

“A child from a family getting by on around £200 a week has known from the first day at school what it feels like to be worth less.  This child has no birthday parties, no holidays, no plane or even train rides, no box games that other children talk about and no computer for online chatting.  Facebook is a closed book.  Shop windows, television images and playground conversation all painfully remind this child that she is excluded from the mainstream.  Is it surprising that a few of these children will devise for themselves the private gang culture that causes a national outcry?”

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

Best wishes,

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