Senscot Bulletin: 19.12.13

Dear members and friends,

        The weekend of the winter solstice – when Senscot closes for 2 weeks – for what I regard as our most meaningful holiday; the annual pause between an exhausted year and new beginnings; for auld yins – it’s also the time we measure our appetite to stay in the race. They recently granted me a new driving license (3 years) – and my wee panda an MOT (new brakes and shocks); we’ll avoid the fast lane but expect to be back on the grid come Jan.
         Hospital this week – 4pm appointment for routine kidney scan; waiting room deserted – by 4.20 becoming impatient. A middle aged woman in a dressing gown is wheeled in – porter calls her Joyce; she looks as ill as anyone I’ve ever seen. Her face is without colour – haggard; her dark hooded eyes look defeated – she should be in bed. I try a supportive smile – but her attention is elsewhere – beyond social niceties. Afterwards I head down to Franco’s in Stockbridge for a fish supper.
        The fish is excellent – freshly cooked; eaten in the car – straight from the paper – chilled can of Irn Bru – as good as it gets. But I keep thinking about that poor woman – her look of resignation. I feel a swoop of gratitude for my fragile life – feel it again now. The Spanish have a toast: “salud, amor y pesetas”. If we’re not allowed the treble – I’ll settle for the first two. May this holiday find you in good health; among people who love you; sharing laughter, kindness and good scoff.

We still have copies of Kindness – Laurence’s latest collection of musings. £10 plus £2 postage; or 2 for £20 – postage paid. Christmas pressies? See,

Senscot regards 2013 as a good year – steady progress both for ourselves and the movement we serve. The London Bubble seems smaller – its babble quieter. As we predicted, BSC can’t get its misdirected money out the door; and SIBs are too complicated to become popular. Meanwhile, the Scottish initiative for bespoke third sector financial products – progresses from concept to reality. But Senscot tends to view the health of the SE community by the level of frontline activity – in actual communities. Our relationship with the various SENs around the country – indicates a movement that, despite a difficult climate, continues to grow in size and confidence. There is much optimism out there. See the SENs News below for more.

Our Indy referendum has asked Scots to consider what kind of society we’d like to create – a welcome exercise whatever. During the early part of this year – I attended conferences/seminars which were attempts to scope the potential for broad alliances. The most promising of these initiatives is the Common Weal Project; The Jimmy Reid Foundation’s ‘wrapper’ – embracing a growing online library – dozens of policy papers under 6 broad headings. These will be edited into 6 major reports. Over 600 people turned up recently to a Common Weal event – something seems to have struck a chord. See,

Will Hutton (Guardian journalist) is trying to make the country aware of the sheer extent of proposed downsizing of the public sector. So far reductions amount to around £25b – 300 thousand jobs. Over the next 4 years, Hutton says, cuts of £65b are proposed – further 900 thousand jobs. For some Tories this devastation is ideological – but also true that we need to design and install a level of public services we can afford. This is an historical opportunity for the third sector. See,

I’ve had a long association with the community press – as a tool for building local identity and voice. David Boyle has written a helpful report for Carnegie UK – called ‘Make your local news work’. Based on 8 workshops with activists around the UK – it explores various business models, at a disastrous time for the print media. See, 

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Stepping Stone for Families, Borders Environmental Education Services, Re-Unions Canal Boats, West Lothian Drug and Alcohol Service, Isle of Rum Community Trust, The Village Storytelling Centre
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Flea Market, 28 Dec;
TENDERS: Business Support for Third Sector Organisations, Inverness Skate Park – Highland Skate Park Association and Support Service for SDS (Self Directed Support) – Aberdeenshire Council.

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: As this is the last SENs News of 2013, it would apt that we give a few reflections/highlights over the last twelve months. Positive developments include: 23 active SENs (19 local and 4 thematic – including a re-animated Community Food SEN); Membership has risen to over 550 social enterprises; 3 SENs have developed SE Strategies with their respective local authorities – Edinburgh, Dundee and Moray; Joint working initiatives have included 2 events with TSIs plus a Joint Thematic Roundtable event; the 9th SE Conference and Ceilidh; progress in a number of policy/development areas – notably Health; Sport; and EU SEN. In the work ‘still to be done’ category – continuing to ensure SE has its place at the table re policy development that impacts on SEN members and their local communities. For more SENs News, see

Senscot has a couple of offices available for rent at Manor Place, Edinburgh – both of which can accommodate 4 people comfortably. Rent circa £6k per annum. If interested, contact

The Sport SEN will be hosting its 3rd SE and Sport Conference early next year. The date for your diary is 18th March 2014 at the Emirates arena (Chris Hoy Velodrome) in Glasgow. The theme of the event will be “SE & Sport – Inspiring our Leaders”. Our keynote speaker will be Frank Dick, former director of coaching for British Athletics and now one of the country’s top motivational speakers in the fields of sport and business ( ). Breakout sessions will focus on leadership, business and the power of sport. We have space for 150 delegates – the majority of which will be established & aspiring Sport SEN members. We also would like to welcome colleagues from Sport for Development organisations, Sports Governing Bodies, Local Authorities & Leisure Trusts as well as other social enterprise & third sector intermediaries. To book your place, see

Back in June, the bulletin profiled the re-launch of The Oban Pheonix Cinema – an arts venue in the town that is ‘owned by the community and exists for the community’. Last week, its success was recognised as it took first prize in the Community Led Regeneration Category at the SURF 2013 Awards. In its first year’s trading, 50,000 people came through the doors; it generated a turnover of £140k – surplus of £12k; employed 9 staff and is supported by 80 volunteers. Congratulations to all those involved. See,

The last SE profile of 2013 features a social enterprise, based in Glasgow and woodland in Killearn, Stirlingshire, that provides educational and employability services to children, young adults & families; workshop experiences for all ages. Green Aspirations Scotland (GrAsp) also provides a range of sustainable timber products including charcoal made in our workshops, chopping boards, stools and garden ornaments; as well as timber supplies for social and commercial enterprises. GrAsp also offers a range professional consultancy services that include: environmental project design; planning advice; community consultations; woodland management; events management and feasibility studies. For more see,

Final quotes of 2013 to Gandhi and Mandela. We may find that history associates these two great human spirits.

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite” – Nelson Mandela

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it – always.” – Mahatma Gandhi

That’s all till next year.
Best wishes and have a great festive break


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