Senscot Bulletin: 20.05.11

Dear members and friends,

I was taught Scottish History by English priests and then Irish brothers; I didn’t ‘discover’ our nationhood until the folk song revival of the early 1960s – when I hung out with the then Corrie folk trio and Paddie Bell.  The late Roy Williamson made a lasting impression; gifted and charming – quiet, self effacing humour – a stillness of spirit.  The Corries went up in the world – just as I went down – our paths separated.  But from that relationship, Scotland’s freedom became important to me – still is.
 And now, suddenly, Scotland feels like a land of possibility – the sense that we have it in our own hands to shape the future.  If our new govt is brave enough – to throw open the gates – this project can extend way beyond the confines of our parliament.  Thousands of individuals and organisations across our country are actively working for a good society.  It’s not often that circumstances coincide for all this activity to swell into a great wave. “There is a tide in the affairs of men – which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”
 When after the election, Alex Salmond did the helicopter thing – spoke briefly to the media – he read these words: “We’ll govern our country fairly and wisely – with an eye to the future – but a heart to forgive.”  It bodes well, that in the hour of overwhelming victory – he chose words of quiet dignity and reconciliation.  I didn’t recognise them at the time – but those are Roy Williamson’s words – from the lyrics of his song – Scotland will Flourish.

I believe that social enterprise is a radical concept – with the potential to transform the way we organise much of society.  The power of the idea derives directly from its core value – that the common good trumps personal gain. This value is the antithesis of neo liberalism and enjoys strong public support. However, if the spectrum of social enterprise is deemed to include ‘private profit’ businesses – as in the USA – the brand becomes debased – loses its potency. Peter Holbrook (English SE Coalition) told `Civil Society` this week that he is not convinced an asset lock is necessary for all types of social enterprise:  “If you are just setting up in business as a self starting social entrepreneur, I am a bit more agnostic about it.”  This position represents a distinct ‘nudge of the tiller’ towards our American cousins.

Announcement yesterday (Thursday) that the political oversight of social enterprise and the third sector in Scotland will remain within the extensive portfolio of John Swinney – no complaints there. Community empowerment and regeneration sit naturally within the same policy area, but they’ve been left incongruously attached to housing; this is a missed opportunity. Later today, the next tier of junior ministers will be announced. My guess is that the third sector will get a dedicated champion. When we get the info`, it will be posted on this link. See,

Long time readers of this bulletin will be aware that I’m an enthusiastic admirer of Muhammad Yunus – one of the world’s great social entrepreneurs.   The current vendetta against him in his native Bangladesh is obviously orchestrated by enemies – but from the distance it’s difficult to know what’s going on.  An article in the Spectator by Elliot Wilson claims that the source of Yunus’ misery is the country’s prime minister and ruling matriarch, Sheik Wasina Wazeb – who is fiercely jealous of his international acclaim.  Wilson’s piece also alleges that the British Govt’s failure to use its leverage to support Yunus is ‘cowardly and weaselly’.

When it became clear that the UK govt had no intention of creating a High Pay Commission – an independent one was established last November, with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.  Its interim report this week states that, if current trends continue, the UK will return to levels of inequality not seen since Victorian times.  In 2010 the average annual salary of FTSE 100 CEOs was £3.7m – 145 times higher than the national median full time wage of £25,800.  By 2020, the ratio is predicted to be 214:1.

The Scottish Govt’s attitude to the proposed Big Society Bank (BSB) is not clear – but that’s hardly surprising, given how ill defined BSB still is.  We understand that the Bank will be wholesale only – feeding funds to social investment ‘retailers’.  It will also invest in the development of the retail infrastructure – which begs the question: how many ‘retailers’ does Scotland need.  Some argue for 4 – North, South, East and West.  Each attuned to the requirements of its area. 

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS:  Geeza Break, Inclusion Scotland, Museums Galleries Scotland, Show Racism the Red Card, The Salvation Army, Spruce Carpets, Fyne Futures, Zero Tolerance, Venture Trust, Glasgow Wood Recycling
EVENTS: ‘How to’ Raise Money from, 25 May; Engine Shed 21st Anniversary Street Party, 10 Jun
TENDERS: Supply of Electrical Equipment and Consumables; UK-Kilmarnock: Provision of Special Needs School Transport Service; Provision of Occupational Health Services to The Highland Council;

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Networks 1st is putting together an update for Scottish Govt on the progress of SENs and local social enterprises re engagement with their respective local Interfaces. Sadly – with some notable exceptions like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fife – it is not an encouraging picture. For the moment, the `what we have, we hold` approach of the former CVS/Volunteer Centres seems to have won the day. Their lack of track record, experience or knowledge of the support needs of grassroots social enterprises raises genuine concerns about their ability to fulfil this key Interface function. Scottish Govt assures us that the current Interface contracts will be closely monitored via the new `Strategic Monitoring Group`. The big question will be whether or not the social enterprise community will be represented in this process. For more Networks News, see

Following the success of DTA Scotland’s Promoting Asset Transfer programme, ongoing support from Scottish Govt has allowed it to establish a Community Ownership Support Service (COSS). COSS will provide support to both local authorities and community groups in exploring and advancing the transfer of local authority assets to community ownership. Through its team of advisers, COSS (led by Linda Gillespie) will offer advice on all aspects of asset transfer; training packages; sign-posting to appropriate support agencies as well as web resources such as toolkits, case studies etc. For more info` on COSS, contact Linda at See,

Places are still available for Scotland’s first ever Social Enterprise and Sport Conference – taking place on 1st June at the Stirling Management Centre. Programme will include a mix of workshops on the role of volunteering in social enterprise; Generating income streams; Use of digital marketing and social media; and Legal structures. Panel discussion at the end will be led by Mel Young (Homeless World Cup) and Stewart Harris (sportscotland). See updated programme, . If you’d like to book, see

We’ve already had some feedback this week to our 2011 `Who’s Who` Guide to social enterprise in Scotland and have updated/amended accordingly. The Guide’s aim is to act not only as a guide for people new to the sector, but also as an aide memoire for `old hands’. We’ll be refreshing it on a regular basis over the coming weeks. See,

This week’s bulletin re-visits a social enterprise first profiled in October 2002. Crisis Ltd provides an Employee Assistance Programme to a number of employers across central Scotland from the west through to the Lothians and Fife. Their clients include Arriva West of Scotland, Lothian Buses, Erskine Hospital, Unity Enterprise, Care Visions Scotland, Housing Associations amongst others. Crisis receives no grant funding and these contracts also support their community based Counselling service, providing support to over 18,000 clients in recent years. For more, see

Anne Sexton, the American Pulitzer Prize winning poet, took her own life, aged 45. Her poetry includes relentlessly honest examination of her mental health problems and nervous breakdown. I often wonder if poets `feel` things more intensely than `normal` people. Erica Jong, poet and friend, said this about Sexton.
“Anne Sexton sometimes seemed like a woman without skin. She felt everything so intensely, had so little capacity to filter out pain that everyday events often seemed unbearable to her. Paradoxically, it is also this skinlessness which makes a good poet. One must have the gift of language, of course, but even a great gift is useless without the other curse: the eyes that see so sharply they often want to close.”

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