Senscot Bulletin: 19.04.13

Dear members and friends,

 In a recent speech – the novelist Sebastian Faulks expressed dismay at the collapse of knowledge, in our young people; because of computers, he says, our children’s generation will ‘capture’ and remember far less than ours did. If true, this is serious. My home computer has picked up a bad virus – is still hospitalised; I’m having a rare period offline – reflecting on my own relationship with the internet.
 The most immediate insight is how important email has become to me – as my primary interface with the external world; the inbox as a kind of reception area; time to reflect on what to let in – when.  Then I miss my personalised information stream – a dozen carefully selected sources of info and opinion.  And of course Google – what did we do before search engines – absolutely indispensable.  So I can’t agree with Faulks – that the internet is making our children more stupid – personally I find the opposite.
 My criticism of Information Technology is that it is incessant and intrusive.  Between a third and half of us are introverts – and for many the prospect of being permanently accessible is dreadful.  I have no mobile phone – nor have I any interest in what is called social media.  But although I have enjoyed a few days ‘switched off’ – I want my computer back. If you protect your inner space from over stimulation – from information overload; then ‘being connected’ brings much more that it takes away.

The very sad news has reached us that Des Ryan, Chief Executive of Cyrenians for over 20 year, has passed away peacefully after a short illness. See,

Like our NHS – at the core of the third sector – is a commitment to public service – which transcends private interests; that is our DNA.  In the USA, the boundaries are less distinct – and corporate commercial interests – with different values – are confusingly intertwined with social enterprise.  This trend is now spreading to the UK – with some third sector leaders (who should know better) in the thrall of the corporate world.  One of the main conduits for this contamination is the annual Skoll Jamboree in Oxford – where Coca Cola and McKinsey etc. cavort with the third sector – everyone pretending to pursue the same ends.  However many of us believe that the unregulated free market economy is a primary cause of global inequality – that we should keep our distance.  It is of course welcome that money markets are taking an interest in investments which are ‘blended’ to include social impact; but don’t get it confused with what we do – totally different DNA. Liam Black finds the Skoll vibe distasteful, see

The death and funeral of Thatcher has released a deluge of analysis about what she stood for – and the influence she exerted – for good or ill.  I’ve selected a statesman-like piece by Jason Cowley – editor of the New Statesman.  "The left struggled to understand Thatcher; when it finally did – the result was New Labour."  See,

Action Acton is an employability SE in West London – its CEO, Dr John Blackmore, has written a thoughtful piece about some of the confusions which the social enterprise community in the South of England has visited on itself; none of which will surprise regular readers of this bulletin.  Blackmore sets down the ‘commendably clear’ definition of SE drafted by the European Commission.  See,

The forthcoming Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill – will include the reform and modernisation of allotment legislation; the Scottish Govt has now published a welcome consultation paper.  The link takes you to Andy Wightman’s website Land Matters – where he shares his thoughts – and somewhat optimistic vision of the future.  See,


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Peebles CAN, The Lennox Partnership, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Foundation Scotland, Living Streets, Social Investment Scotland, Firstport, One World Shop, Patient Opinion
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Arts Market, 20 Apr; Build your social enterprise in a day, 24 Apr;

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Senscot, this week, hosted a meeting in Edinburgh of SEN Co-ordinators and Third Sector Interface (TSI) staff with responsibility for supporting social enterprise. Over 25 people attended, representing around half of the Interfaces TSIs, with group discussions focussing on social enterprise definition; how to support social enterprises to submit tenders; and how to encourage organisations to become more enterprising. We’ll be reviewing feedback and will share the report next week. Our intention is to facilitate another such event later in the year – when we can continue to share good practice and exchange information. Contact for more info. For more Networks News, see

Any time-served practitioner in the caring professions – will be hesitant about building a causal link between what they do and social outcomes; they know how many variables there are in human behaviour.  But the pressure from funders to measure results – forces a choice; to do what they believe counts – or to do what can be counted.  This piece from James Perry calls for the humility to accept that certain things are unmeasureable.  See,

Sincere thanks to those readers who contributed to our recent social investment/community bank survey. Senscot’s research into gaps in Scottish provision is advancing is and the work of the Steering Group is now moving on to the next stage of our feasibility study – which will involve trawling opinion and feedback from a range of people across the public, social finance and third sectors. From this, we expect the most appropriate ‘model’ for this venture to emerge. For background, see,

Update on last week’s piece on the RBS Inspire Enterprise initiative – which funds organisations working with young people to explore enterprise, develop their skills and start up in business. Three Scottish organisations are in the shortlist of 29 – Firstport (ICAN project); the Social Enterprise Academy (Schools project); and West Fife Enterprise (working with 8 High Schools in Fife). You can support our Scottish colleagues by voting here,  – closes Tues, 23rd April.

Scottish Govt announced further funding for Public Social Partnerships (PSPs) last week – with £7.7 million being invested to establish a national network of mentoring schemes to tackle Scotland’s high re-offending rates. The two largest awards are to the Wise Group (for male offenders) and to Sacro (female offenders). See full list of awards,

This week’s bulletin profiles Glasgow SEN member, Luma-IT. Luma-IT provides a full range of IT services from consultancy, implementation and ongoing management – including a 24/7 helpdesk. It also specialises in working across the third sector – for social enterprises, charities and community groups. It operates, itself, as a social enterprise, having set up as a community interest company (CIC). As a new social enterprise, Luma is more than happy to get involved in ‘one-off’ projects from installing equipment, advising on technologies or helping to get your web site up and running. For more, see

We still have copies of ‘Kindness’ – Laurence’s latest selection of bulletin intros (2007-12). If you’d like a copy, see

I’m back reading James Robertson’s ‘And the Land Lay Still’ – which is sometimes hard going, but very rewarding.  He took his title from this poem.  The Summons, by Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland).

"The year was ending, and the land lay still.  Despite our countdown, we were loath to go, kept padding along the ridge, the broad glow of the city beneath us, and the hill swirling with a little mist.  Stars were right, plans, power; only now this unforeseen reluctance, like a slate we could not clean of characters, yet could not read, or write our answers on, or smash, or take with us.  Not a hedgehog stirred.  We sighed, climbed in, locked.  If it was love we felt, would it not keep, and travel where we travelled?  Without fuss we lifted off, but as we checked and talked a far horn grew to break that people’s sleep."

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