Senscot Bulletin: 20.01.12

Dear members and friends,

More or less housebound this week with severe leg pain – a disc in my lower back pressing on a nerve; I’m in the queue for an MRI scan.  For old folk, pain is no longer a surprise; most mornings, reaching for my socks, there’ll be some new twinge – what now!  But this present level of pain has been rare for me – thankfully.  It brings two timely reminders: That few things in life concentrate our attention so completely (and terribly) as severe pain; and that few things are more boring to listen to or read about.  The worst part of the experience was not being able to sleep – but they’ve given me painkillers called Tramadol – which hold the worst of it – get me through the night. 
 There’s a school of thought which says that pain can only be endured and defeated if it is ’embraced’.  ‘Surrendering’, they argue, marks an inner transition from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ – from resistance to acceptance.  Anything we accept completely, releases us.  When you ‘surrender’ – your sense of self shifts from being identified with pain – to being the ‘space around’ the pain.  Sally, who clears tables up at the Garden Centre Cafe, is a ‘mindful’ person – into yoga, meditation and stuff; tell her about my ‘surrendering to pain’ strategy.  She seems very impressed – asks the obvious question – does it work?  Feel I have to tell her the truth – that I’ve never tried it without Tramadol.  The look she gives me is scathing.

During the course of 2012, the social enterprise community in Scotland will be entering a new phase in its development and growth. The ‘pipeline’ of support for our sector has, in recent months, undergone a bit of an MOT and  – in spite of how tight public spending is – repairs and improvements have been carried out i.e. commissioning of Just Enterprise and Opening New Markets contracts. Further refinements are anticipated as Scottish Govt hopes to realise the potential of SE as an important contributor to its strategy of economic growth and public sector reform. We have been fortunate that this support has been consistent over recent years at a national level. The challenge – for all of us going forward – will be to ensure this ‘backing’ of SE is readily available at local level. Our social enterprise community will be in the spotlight next week as the Guardian newspaper hosts a Q&A specifically on SE in Scotland and the lessons that could be learned in other parts of the UK. See,

I understand social enterprise to be part of a bigger vision – which sees economies working for the common good,  rather than the unlimited private gain of a few.  The worldwide co-operative movement is a (longer established) part of this same vision.  You may be aware that 2012 is the United Nations international year of cooperatives – last week saw the UK launch event in London, at which several co-op heavyweights debated with the audience.  Some telling insights Charles Leadbeater said "I think SE is not supposed to be that big.  I think it is supposed to have huge influence on the other sectors."  Worth a look.  Also, for your interest, academic Rory Ridley-Scott offers a ‘different’ take on the history of the coop movement.

During the festive break, the New Statesman interview was with Muhammad Yunus – one of my heroes – it’s linked here.  What we call social enterprise, Yunus calls social business – I was pleased to observe that the European Commission uses the terms interchangeably.  On the subject of social investment Yunus in unequivocal "Investors get back their investment amount only.  No dividend is given beyond investment money."  This more or less summaries my own position on social investment – that investors profit from the relief of suffering feels wrong.  But not everyone who disagrees is reprehensible – I think Rob Greenland in this piece makes the opposite case well; I still disagree with him though.

Electronic networks – even with savvy websites and bulletins – are no substitute for face to face meetings of people.  That’s where contact is made – where relationships are built – where networks come to life – person by person.  What operated as the Glasgow Social Care Providers Forum – has re-launched itself as the Social Care Ideas Forum (SCIF).  It is hosting a Meet Up networking event on 2nd Feb at Edinburgh’s Melting Pot.  Great speakers, interesting format.  Take a look.

At the start of every year, Senscot invites readers to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin.  Not a condition – but your support is a real encouragement. Thanks to those who have already donated. Senscot’s Board is accountable to our company members – around 100 individuals who support our work and pay an average of £25. Associate members (organisations) pay a minimum of £100 and enjoy free use of our jobs and events service. Here’s the 2011 list,  To donate this year, see

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See This week:
JOBS: Stirling Carers Centre, Fresh Start, Youth Football Scotland Ltd, PLUS Stirling, Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Garvald Edinburgh, West Lothian Financial Inclusion, Citizens Advice Scotland, Development Coll
EVENTS: SQA Introduction to BSL, 23 Jan; Creating Enterprise to enable Social Benefit, 25 Jan, Consensus Decision Making, 26 Jan, Getting Ready to Buy, 9 Feb; Community Sport Thriving in the 21st Century, 23 Feb; The Social Enterprise Exchange, 27 Mar
TENDERS: There are over 25 live tender opportunities on the ReadyforBusiness website including Feasibility Study and Business Plan for Iona Village Hall, Printing & Design Services for Hillcrest Housing Association and Highland Wind Turbine Network – Renewable Energy Consultancy. For more info, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Recently established West Lothian SEN is the first SEN to have completed ‘Vital Stats’ for 2011, the figures are impressive and reflect the impact the SEN members are making on the local economy in West Lothian. The SEN has plans over the next couple of months to produce its own e-newsletter, Facebook page and run its first event as a Network, jointly with West Lothian Council. Any social enterprises in the area looking for more information on the SEN, get in touch and we’ll pass on your details. See,  For more Networks News, see

We mentioned before the break that Senscot Legal (SL) is now offering short two hour training modules and, already, there has been a significant level of demand. The modules can be tailored to suit individual organisational needs but, generally, cover issues such as company formation/structures; employment matters; company policy advice; and property/leasing. If you’d like to know more, contact Alan or Karina at For further info’ on Senscot Legal, see

Over the last couple of years, Senscot has kept a link to ‘Social Enterprise Venues’ on our homepage. We’re glad to hear that our friends at Community Enterprise have taken this a stage further and developed a bespoke website (work still in progress). The intention will be for all info to be held on the new site. Not only will it be a handy guide to the best social enterprise venues around the country – it’ll also be a great way of ensuring that we’re generating business between one another. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise that has spun out of a research project at Stirling University. Talking Mats was originally developed in 1998 as a low tech communication framework for people with communication impairment. It is designed to help people with communication difficulties to think about issues discussed with them, and provide them with a way to effectively express their opinions. Talking Mats Ltd was established as a social enterprise in September 2011 and looking forward to pursuing new projects, new business opportunities, and accommodating the increase in demand for their products and training. See,

From Wednesday’s edition of Scottish Review.

The writer, broadcaster, educator, social worker and reformer Kay Carmichael died on 26 December 2009.  ‘I felt a need,’ said her husband David Donnison, ‘to put down words to help me find a way through a veil of tears.  Although I had not published poems before and never intended these to be published I instinctively resorted to poetic forms to convey the pain and passion, and to seek the sharper edge to thought that poetry makes possible’.  David wrote 22 poems which are collected in the volume, ‘Requiem’, published privately.  Scottish Review selected these four. I knew Kay and David as a couple – very much on the edge of their circle.  I think the poems are beautiful. 
The book, ‘Requiem’, is available for purchase.  Any profit will go to the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture – one of Kay’s favourite charities.  For further details email:

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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