Senscot Bulletin: 20.06.08

Dear members and friends,

The invite was flattering but I shouldn’t have come – award ceremony in the House of Lords – oak panelling – heraldic crests – drinks and canapés. The Minister – surrounded by the men and women of the hour – the self-assured move among us in “the jangling harness of their importance”. I’ve no right to be irritated – I’m the outsider- let them enjoy their world – wish I was home in bed watching the footie. A woman in a black suit – civil servant? – reads my name badge and says she gets the Senscot bulletin. I smile in appreciation –but her eyes are hard – she can’t understand why anyone would want to volunteer such personal thoughts and feelings – she implies egotism. Tell her that I write it for myself – with the hope that it might sometimes touch others. She moves off.
Two weeks later that challenge remains with me – why I do a weekly column? There is a line from Gore Vidal – “In a sense, the only purpose in life is the creation of a self” – an interesting idea. For some folk this self creation is an unconscious, private thing. Others, like me, consciously make jottings – enjoy comparing them with fellow explorers. Maybe swapping stories helps us get by – but I also think Faulkner was right – our final wish is to have scribbled on the wall – “Laurence was here”.

Well they took their time – but today (Friday) the Govt launched its ‘‘Enterprising Third Sector Action Plan’’ at SCVO`s Gathering.  Incorporating several new funding streams, this Plan provides a comprehensive framework to advance social enterprise in Scotland till 2011  Over the coming months this bulletin will no doubt identify gaps in the published package – but this is an impressive strategy – assembled with care by a dedicated team. Roddy MacDonald – one of the main authors of the new Action Plan – will attend Senscot’s AGM next Thursday in Glasgow.  It won’t be a large gathering (around 30) so there should be a chance to get a good discussion going.  Buffet at 12.30 – Roddy at 1.  If you want to attend email

That there is a right wing and left wing within the UK social enterprise movement became clear this week from the different reactions to the news that Ealing Community Transport (ECT Group) has sold its recycling arm to the private sector.  For those of us who believe that social ownership is central to our movement this is worrying.  For the right wingers, engagement and even absorption by the private sector is inevitable and desirable.  Good piece in the Guardian.

I was speaking at the Development Trusts Association Scotland conference in St Andrews on Monday – they always put so much effort into their annual gathering and once again I got a real lift from the proceedings – 180 attendees – 80% local activists.  The Scottish Government’s Third Sector strategy is missing a trick not acknowledging the community sector as a distinct force out there in our communities. Look at this assembly DTAS list of attendees

I put a lot of thought into the speech I wrote for the DTAS bash.  I was asking whither Development Trusts operate in ‘civic’ society – ultimately under the direction of the ‘local state’; or whither they are part of ‘civil’ society which I take to mean voluntary action as Lord Beverdge defined it.  ‘‘undertaken by citizens not under the direction of any authority welding the power of the state’’.  This is a crunch issue for the whole community empowerment debate. Here’s my speech

Wednesday saw the launch of our Govt`s Scottish Investment Fund.  It’s a significant departure from the Futurebuilders model in that it will be managed at arms length by SIS and this time it’s not for everyone – not first come first served.  The new fund will be targeted at between 60 and 80 Third Sector organizations who have the potential to become serious businesses delivering public services.  This doesn’t sound very democratic but I believe it’s the right strategy.  Scotland needs a ‘premier league’ of a good hundred serious social enterprises – exemplars for the whole sector.  Simultaneously, we need to be nurturing the newcomers.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 
JOBS: 20 vacancies, incl. posts with: Social Investment Scotland, Church of St John the Evangelist, Carrick Community Councils’ Forum, Deaf Action, Forth Sector, Mull & Iona Community Trust,  The Big Issue, Govanhill Youth Project
EVENTS: 15 events Self Leadership Seminar with Karen Darke, 26 June, Edinburgh; Southside Festival, 28 Jun, Glasgow; Open Forum – Establishing Urban Regeneration Companies – reflections and lessons, 13 Jun, Stirling; Summer Networking BBQ for New Social Entrepreneurs, 16 Jul, Glasgow;

Networks 1st NEWS: Got confirmation on dates for this year`s `Fit for Purpose` Conference looking at health and social enterprise. The event will take place on Tuesday 3rd March 2009 at The Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Shona Robison (Minister for Public Health) has accepted our invitation to be keynote speaker.
Scottish Government is offering a contract opportunity that may interest social enterprises for the provision of the Warm Deal Benefits Health Check. It will provide advice and support to encourage benefit uptake and to alleviate fuel poverty. For more, see

Karen Darke is delivering a Self-Leadership seminar for the Social Enterprise Academy next Thursday, 26th June at 1pm in the Melting Pot in Edinburgh. Karen will speaking about the challenges of overcoming significant change in our lives and she talks from personal experience. Places are free. For details, see

The Academy also, this week, hosted the first awards day for `Scottish Enterprise Schools`.10 schools from across Scotland were recognised at the event at Surgeon`s Hall in Edinburgh for setting up social business with pupils, teachers and the local community working together. One school – Stonelaw High in Rutherglen – generated £62,000 over 4 years from their Fair Trade Tuck Shop. For more, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise set up through the Claverhouse Group in Dundee. Cycle Stop, set up in February 2008, has been set up to create employment opportunities for local people. Technicians refurbish bicycles that have been donated by the public, the Police or reclaimed from local civic amenity sites. Demand has been so strong that they are looking to open an outlet in Dundee City Centre in the coming weeks.

Driving back on Monday from the DTA Conference in St. Andrews I was thinking how vital but fragmented the community sector is in Scotland – then I came upon this quotation:

  ‘In so far as the battlefield presented itself to the bare eyesight of men, it had no entirety, not length, no breadth, no depth, no size, no shape, and was made up of nothing except small numberless circlets commensurate with such ranges of vision as the mist might allow at each spot…. In such conditions, each separate gathering of soldiery went on fighting its own little battle in happy and advantageous ignorance of the general state of the action; nay, even very often in ignorance of the fact that any great conflict was raging.’ Alexander Kinglake (historian) 1809 – 1891

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,

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