Senscot Bulletin: 18.11.11

Dear members and friends,

Invited to Wester Hailes on Monday – the excitement (and panic) of a new ‘start-up’; few present are aware that I worked here for 14 years. When we finish at 3, I wander round the estate till the light fails – remembering all that is gone – wilful melancholy. In its heyday, the Wester Hailes Rep Council and the dozens of groups which fed into it, was frequently evaluated as one of the UK’s foremost examples of local democracy. On my walkabout, I reflect on how a sophisticated community infrastructure – which took local people 15 years to create – was so ruthlessly destroyed – by local government control freaks.
 Friday – in the Argyle St Oxfam shop – I find an old copy of Nye Bevan’s ‘In Place of Fear’. It’s a 1961 reprint (he died in 1960) and the introduction by his wife, Jennie Lee, captures the spirit of this ‘bonnie fechter’ for social justice. But how did this brave vision of human dignity – on which the Labour Party was founded – get displaced by Blair’s mob – who switched sides – ‘intensely relaxed’ with the primacy of corporate greed.
 I’ve been consoling myself with this thought: In the story of our individual lives (along with families, tribes, nations, humankind) – there is ‘accumulation’ (build up) and ‘accretion’ (the growing of separate things into one). I think of it as a kind of stock pot – everything goes in – including Bevanite socialism and the Wester Hailes Rep Council – all part of the mix.

I was recently interviewed on the phone by a journalist from England – asking my view on whether social enterprise (SE) is evolving differently on each side of the border. I explained how 8 out of 10 Scots vote for a left of centre Party – that we are instinctively more social democratic than England – and that is reflected in our SE community. The Scots are quite clear that an SE has an asset lock – the English seem more ambivalent. I gave the example of Circle Healthcare – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The true mission of Circle Holdings (run by a bunch of the world’s hardest hedge fund managers) could hardly be further from the values of SE. I told the journalist my belief – that in Scotland ‘the chancers are challenged’.

An article in Sunday’s Herald, picked up on recent research from Sheffield yooni – which found that “areas of Glasgow suffer from a depth of poverty you don’t encounter in other parts of the UK”. The coming winter months – when benefit cuts will start to work through – will see increased food poverty in Scotland. Mechanisms to reach children and families most in need are almost exclusively in our sector – front line workers attuned to the basics for survival – food and warmth. See,

You may wish to be aware that the Poverty Alliance will be hosting another ‘Scottish Assembly for tackling Poverty’ in Glasgow on 15th/16th March 2012. They are looking from an exchange of experience – anti-poverty ideas and projects that work. See,

Since 2008, the Social Enterprise Academy has been working with teachers to promote SE in Scottish schools; over 200 schools are now running pupil-led social enterprises. The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has announced that from 2014, social enterprise will become a core part of the business studies curriculum – standard and higher grades. Neil McLean – SEA Director- told Senscot, “This is a major advance – moving social enterprise into the mainstream.” See,

Our piece last week about Alan Sinclair’s report, ‘A life worth living’ got more hits than anything else. This is a link to the summary and also the full report. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See This week:
JOBS: Scottish Parliament, Garvald, Volunteer Centre East Dunbartonshire, Volunteer Centre, SmileChildcare, PlanB Money & Debt Advice Support Services, PSS Scotland
EVENTS: Adding Value: Creativity Applied, 21 Nov; Educational Entrepreneurship, 24 Nov, Social Care Ideas Factory Meet Up, 1 Dec; A WinterLight, 3 Dec; Creating Enterprise to enable Social Benefit, 25 Jan; Consensus Decision Making, 26 Jan;
TENDERS: Landscaping & Fitness Equipment, Townhill Country Park, Home based respite for older people and home support care services for people with dementia, Professional Independent Advocacy Services

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Our 7th Social Enterprise Conference and Ceilidh came to an end this morning. The event went very well – 110 attendees (82 from social enterprises) – combining a good mix of older and newer faces. People seemed to enjoy the programme as well as last night’s ‘hoolie’. Main prize winners were Strange Theatre (Dragons’ Den: £5k) and Stranraer Millennium Centre (Audience:£1,400).  More importantly, there seemed to be a great deal of consensus about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Scotland’s grassroots social enterprise community. This is something we will be looking to build on in the year ahead. We’ll have a fuller report next week. For more Networks News, see

Good piece in the Telegraph celebrating the end of PFI – toxic debts of £200billion – for our kids to pay off – what a disgrace! Some us fear that Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are more of the same ‘off balance sheet’ shenanigans. See,

Two bits of news from our Coalition.  Firstly, following their EGM on Tuesday, they will now be known as Social Enterprise Scotland (SES), following the lead of SE UK in London. Secondly, our Coalition (or SES) announced this week Scotland’s first ever Parliamentary Cross-Party Group on social enterprise. This is a real achievement – well done to Duncan Thorpe. Social enterprises and their supporters can fully engage with MSPs around what the SE movement can contribute to public sector reform and other issues. First meeting is Tuesday 13th Dec – everyone welcome. See more,

Brian Wilson (former Labour Minister), writing in the West Highland Free Press this week, calls for the re-introduction of the Scottish Land Fund – which was subsumed into the Lottery in 2006. In the week that celebrates the fifth anniversary of Scotland’s largest community land buy out to date – in South Uist, Benbecula and Eriskay – he claims that the movement has just about ground to a halt. He says: “There needs to be some positive signs of support for the expansion of community land ownership and by far the most effective way of demonstrating it would be the early announcement of a new Scottish Land Fund.” See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Edinburgh that is looking to provide other social enterprises and third sector organisations with the opportunity to generate additional income through the running of market stalls in Edinburgh City Centre. Edinburgh Markets runs street markets with an events programme and, with their Christmas programme looming, are offering a free day for new traders between 8th and 11th Dec. A number of third sector organisations who are already running stalls include; Pass IT On,
Alzheimer’s Scotland, Bridgend Growing Community, Children 1st and Health in Mind. For more, see

Nye Bevan on democracy in under-developed countries.

‘“What is the use,” he insisted, “of taunting the under-developed countries with the absence of democratic institutions – when we were at their economic level we were hanging children and driving them into mines and into mills. Mankind is not born with an insatiable appetite for political liberty. This is the coping stone on the structure of progress, not its base. If political liberty and the institutions which enshrine it were spontaneous imperatives of the human spirit, our task would be much easier. But they are earth bound and time bound. The pulse of progress beats differently for different parts of the world, and if we are to understand what is happening around us and act intelligently about it, we must recognise that fact and realise that once we stood where they now stand.”

When Bevan wrote these words – the father of Condoleezza Rice, living in Birmingham, Alabama, didn’t have the vote.

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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