Senscot Bulletin: 19.07.13

Dear members and friends,

The commons is a generic term – like the market or the state; I think of it as the wealth we share – our life support system – both natural and social.  Some commons are gifts of nature – others the product of human endeavour; some are new, like the internet – others as ancient as the written word – what they have in common is that they ‘belong’ to all of us – no one has exclusive rights to them.  For economists this is a sterile waste – awaiting the hand of the market to bring it to life.  ‘Forests are worthless until they become timber etc.’  In this way of seeing things – the privatisation of commons is always a good thing; citizens need to be aware of a constant threat of commercialism.
 The NHS stands for universal healthcare – it is a symbol of our respect and responsibility for each other – binding us in equality.  The gift of visionary socialists after the war – it remains a beacon of advanced democracy.  A new book, NHS SOS, tells the shameful story of how a succession of Labour – yes Labour – ministers, prepared the NHS for privatisation; many going on to line their pockets as private ‘consultants’ for the contractors they connived with. 
 I don’t want to live in a society where commercialism corrodes commonality; I choose a Scotland where citizens, rich and poor, will share a common life.  All we have is each other; all we can do is look after each other; it’s the only nobility there is.  Book Review here,

A recent review of Riverside Inverclyde – which has spent over £60m to regenerate an economically depressed area – finds it has failed to meet even minimum targets.  This is one of an increasing number of arms-length external organisations (ALEOS) – which exploit the benefits of charitable status – but remain under the control of the local authority.  The third sector is based on certain core values – of which ALEOS are probably unaware.  Earlier this year, another ALEO – Glasgow East Regeneration Agency – gave its CEO a £500,000 pay off; one senses that this is a world where the cronyism of local party politics holds sway.  This is a reputational risk to genuine charities.  OSCR should affirm the distinction between the charitable and public sectors.  See,

Extraordinary article from UnLtd in the Guardian SE Network.  It reports that half the applications they now receive – are from private companies limited by shares.  But, they say, because they distribute profits these businesses are experiencing resistance – lack of trust – from commissioners, funders etc.  Well thank goodness for that!  The article then asks readers to submit suggestions as to how these private businesses can better present themselves as genuine SEs – it beggars belief!  See,

Skiff rowing is spreading fast around the coasts of Scotland – villages building 22ft ‘skiffies’ from a standardised kit (£3500) – teams (4 rowers and cox) competing against other villages.  The recent championships at Ullapool featured 800, mostly Scottish, rowers in 30 teams.  The American anarchist Emily Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”  In this delightful piece, Lesley Riddoch is quick to recognise that community muscle can grow as easily from fun as from suffering.  A confirmed localist, Riddoch can see the empowerment potential of ‘skiffies’.  See,

Is anyone really surprised, that two of the govt’s key outsourcing contractors, G4S and Serco – have been overcharging the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds.  Serco CEO assures us that it is a business led by values – built on a reputation for integrity.  I find the hypocrisy worse than the fraud.  These are the corporations being groomed to replace the public sector.  See,

Measures to make smoking less attractive to young people (plain packaging) have been scrapped (in England) as the result of intense lobbying from the powerful tobacco industry.  George Monbiot, the scourge of corporate sector delinquency, has investigated; he names and shames some of the individuals and organisations – ‘unscrupulous’ enough to work for the tobacco barons. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: DTA Scotland, Forth Sector, Turning Point Scotland, Quarriers, miEnterprise Lothian CIC, Whitmuir Community Farm, Social Investment Scotland, Starpic LTD, Pilton Community Health Project
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Flea Market, 27 Jul; Sleepless ’til Seattle – illustrated adventure talk, 30 Aug; Social Capital World Forum 13, 4 Sep;
TENDERS: A National Orchard Inventory for Scotland and Building Knowledge about the Creative Sector in the South of Scotland. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: This year’s Social Enterprise Conference and Ceilidh will take place on 14th and 15th November at the Westerwood Hotel near Cumbernauld. We’ll be running the event in closer association with Social Firms Scotland (SFS) and Social Enterprise Scotland (SES) – as part of our Supporting Social Enterprise (SSE) Alliance. The event will, as always, focus on the work of the SENs a blend of thematic and local activity. There will be a number of changes to the programme this year but we’ll also be sticking with some of the old favourites including the ‘Dragon’s Den’. We’ll be taking bookings during August.  For more Networks News, see

Last Thursday (11 July) I attended the Firstport reception (at the Point, Edinburgh) to mark the departure, as chair of Barry Ayre.  I got to know Barry in 2002 – when we were jointly setting up Scotland UnLtd; he is now more a friend than a colleague.  That’s the feeling I got from many of the 80 people who attended – that they were honouring a respected friend – who shared the early journey of their enterprise.  Firstport has announced the appointment of Martin Dorchester as its new chair.  See,

The Firstport reception was greatly enhanced by a performance at the start and finish by Soundsational Community Music a social enterprise from Coatbridge.  This was an impressive top and tail for any event – one I commend to you. – I loved this outfit.  Also at the reception Jackie Dunsmuir, a Senscot director, introduced me to Billy Zima of Identity Artworks who, she says, is doing great work with young people in Fife.  I asked Billy for an outline of his approach.  See,

I’ve been enjoying the New Statesman series of articles entitled ‘What Makes us Human’; number eleven is by Alain de Bolton who wants our schools to better prepare young people for the big challenges of life.  He wants lessons on how to choose a life partner; manage a relationship; bring up children; find the job for you; deal with illness and ageing.  This sounds sensible – but can wisdom be passed down the generations – or do we all have to start from scratch; it’s an interesting essay.  See,

To mark the departure of founding chair Barry Ayre – Firstport invited the established social entrepreneurs of their network, to contribute to a Founders Fund; using the crowdfunding platform Buzzbank, they collected more than £4000.  The winners – decided by a public vote – was a brand new architects practice called City of Play – the vision of Grant Menzies and Bobby Lee.  The practice places the philosophy of play at the centre of its work; the website caught my imagination for its sense of fun and lack of inhibition; just like children’s play.  See

The Brazilian theologian Ruben Alvez speaking about hope.
 “What is hope?  It is the viewpoint that imagination is more real and reality less real than it looks.  It is the suspicion that the overwhelming brutality of fact that oppresses and represses us, is not the last word.  It is the hunch that reality is more complex than the realists want us to believe – that the frontiers of the possible are not determined by the limits of the actual – and that, in a miraculous and unexpected way, life is preparing the creative events which will open the way to freedom and to resurrection…  So, let us plant dates, even though we who plant them will never eat them.  We must live by the love of what we will never see.”

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


Subscribe to this bulletin:

To unsubscribe or change subscription address/ e-mail

Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210