Senscot Bulletin: 19.09.14

Dear members and friends,
Some readers will be relieved – but others, like myself, will feel a deep personal disappointment this morning – that the Scots have chosen to remain subject to remote London rule; but I respect that this is what people have voted for – and that we must move forward on this basis – for the foreseeable future. Apart from the Sunday Herald – no newspaper – local, regional or national supported independence – but I feel no inclination to get into ‘we wuz robbed’ recriminations – rather the opposite. Let’s now move to heal the divisions among citizens; to recall the many positives of this process.

The overwhelming achievement of our referendum has been the level of engagement of citizens – 84% turnout – which has simply never happened before – a triumph of democratic participation. There is an audible sigh of relief from Westminster – but the UK political establishment has been rocked to its foundations; there will now ensue a major national conversation – towards the recasting of the British state. Scotland delivered a shock.
Many of the people who voted ‘no’ yesterday – did so because of those last minute ‘vows’ to deliver more devolution. Someone said that the future belongs to those who hear it coming. Listening to David Cameron this morning I wondered how much London understands the enormity of the shift that has taken place. If the political elite has not grasped this – history may judge that this day of ‘defeat’ marks an important advance towards the self-determination of the Scottish people. Independence discussion in this bulletin is now suspended – until further notice!

Journalist Zoe Williams knows about social enterprise – she wrote ‘The Shadow State’ – an acclaimed report about the wholesale outsourcing of public services to cost-cutting corporations. In a recent Guardian piece – she refers to the perception down south that “social enterprise is just a fig-leaf – which canny profit driven companies can manipulate (Emma Harrison, founder of A4E, famously called it a social purpose company – before the Advertising Standards Authority put a stop to it)”.  In England, mainstream SE Intermediaries (like UnLtd) deliberately encourage private profit companies to call themselves social enterprises – thereby degrading the term. In an attempt to prevent this confusion travelling north – Senscot and CAN have expressly disassociated from UnLtd’s direction of travel. See Civil Society Mag’s coverage,

The idea underpinning Big Society Capital (BSC) that meaningful financial returns can be generated from third sector activity – has more or less been discredited. But a report this month from Nick O’Donohoe makes it clear that BSC is still determined “to re-define the social business sector – so that all businesses delivering social value can be recognised.” See,
You’d be better served taking a look at a different report on Social Investment this week – it’s from CAF, who both understand and care about our sector. It warns the Govt that some of the hype around social impact investment can create false expectations – and it makes 8 realistic recommendations about how social investment can better serve our sector. See, 

Back in 2006/07, a number of us within the SE community helped to form much of the thinking around what emerged as the ‘Enterprising Third Sector Action Plan’. In recent months, we have become aware of discussions around a new stream of emerging ‘strategies’: At last week’s CEiS Conference, Scottish Govt spoke of beginning a consultation on what social enterprise in Scotland could look like in 10 years’ time; the Lottery are looking a new programme – 2015-21; and there is the new round of EU Funding (2014-2020) – with explicit reference to social enterprise. A number of key members of our SE community have been discussing this issue and have agreed to work together to produce a refreshed/updated SE Strategy for Scotland. Our intention will be to consult as widely as possible across our community to come up with a ‘roadmap’ that can further support and develop social enterprise over the next 5/10 years. We will have more info’ in the coming weeks. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: EUSA, Quarriers, Venture Trust, Glasgow Bike Station, Victim Support Scotland, RAMH, Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust, Liber8 Lanarkshire Ltd, Transition Extreme Sports Limited
EVENTS: Mindfulness, Drawing & Painting Workshop, 20 Sep; Community Shares Scotland – Western Isles Roadshow, 26 Sep; Leading Growth for Senior Leaders (Certificate in Leadership), 30 Sep;
TENDERS: Feasibility Study for Great Bernera Community Development Trust, Request for Best Offers as Part of a Framework Agreement – Energy Saving Trust Ltd, John O’Groats Artist’s Commission – Highlands and Islands Enterprise and more.

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Senscot is hosting a Joint Thematic Roundtable meeting in Edinburgh next week (25th Sept) at the Grassmarket Community Project.  This is the second time that the Roundtables have had the opportunity to come together following a successful event last year, see  Last year’s event focussed on challenges facing social enterprises in their respective thematic areas – the event next week is an opportunity for us to hear about the progress made over the past 12 months and to look forward to the year ahead. Included will be a presentation from Prof. Cam Donaldson (Glasgow Caley) on the Health and Social Enterprise Research Project and an interactive session on Public Social Partnerships (PSPs) delivered by Ready for Business, see programme   For more SENs News, see

I learn this week that the website of the English Charity Commission is now located on the UK Govt’s official site –– classified as a Dept of Govt – I feel relief that our own charities regulator – OSCR – enjoys more independence from the state – at least I think it does? See,

Last week, the Scottish Community Alliance (SCA) submitted its written evidence in response to the call for evidence from Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill. During earlier consultations on the Bill, SCA took the view that any legislation of this nature should be underpinned by some ‘first principles’ of community empowerment: subsidiarity; self-determination; local people leading; and the importance of communities owning land and having their own income. See SCA’s full submission,

Over the last couple of years, Senscot has been working with others to establish the Scottish Community Re-Investment Trust (SCRT) – an initiative that will seek to ‘harness our sector’s collective assets and expertise and to provide a family of financial services relevant to our sector’s needs’. This week SCRT became incorporated as a SCIO (SC 045093) and one of its first actions has been to submit a response to HM Treasury with regards to its consultation on Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR). We will have more news on SCRT over the next couple of weeks. See SITR response, See,

The first Scottish Rural Parliament convenes on 6th-8th Nov 2014 in Oban. Around 400 people (citizens and policy makers) will gather for the three day event – to develop and agree a way forward for rural Scotland as well as celebrating the strengths and achievements of rural communities. To register interest in attending, see,  Closing date is Thursday, 25th Sept.

This week’s bulletin profiles one of Firstport’s ‘LaunchMe’ social ventures. Bad Idea has been set up as a flagship youth enterprise and personal development programme targeting high school pupils. Accredited by Glasgow University, the programme takes the form of an enterprise competition delivered by a series of workshops, designed to inspire entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and innovation.  Operating initially in Glasgow, Bad Idea has received Scottish Govt backing to expand into Edinburgh, Dundee, Perth, Stirling, Aberdeen and Inverness – working with Education Authorities – and culminating in a national competition later this year. For more see,

When things are in a state of flux – as they are now in Scotland – I often return to an essay on the Senscot site by Margaret Wheatley – called ‘The Place beyond Fear and Hope’:

“Rudolf Bahro, a prominent German activist and iconoclast, describes the first step: “when forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure”. A willingness to feel insecure then is the first step on the journey – knowing that nothing ever remains the same, learning to live with the unrelenting constant of change, realizing that even good things won’t last forever, accepting that change is just the way it is. Systems and ideas that seemed reliable and solid dissolve at an increasing rate. People who asked for our trust betray or abandon us. Strategies that worked suddenly don’t. Groundlessness is a frightening place, at least at first, but as the old culture turns to mush, we would feel stronger if we stopped searching for ground, if we sought only to locate ourselves in the present and do our work from here.” See,

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