Senscot Bulletin 20-06-2003

JUNE 2003



Dear Members and friends,


Because the adults in our family spent so much time ‘in the
shop’ we usually had someone ‘over from Italy’ staying with us – cooking,
cleaning, learning English, sending home some money. When I was 13 Ermenia
arrived – she was 17 and beautiful like Sophia Loren – and I fell in love with
her. She was vivacious – loved to talk, and though she had no English this did not
deter her. She would lean out of the window and hail passers-by – when they
stopped she would declare happily “Sorri – no speaka Inglese.” She discovered
the phone and took to calling total strangers. I would retrieve it to hear
someone say, “It’s some crazy foreigner.” After a while it became clear she
wasn’t settling – that she was homesick. “People here no talk,” she said. She
took to collecting jam jars compulsively – filling her room with them. Then
from time to time she’d weep quietly, which made me very sad. Eventually we
agreed with her mother to send her back. On the day, it fell to me to take her
by taxi to the Waverley. 17 year-old girls know when 13 year-old boys fancy
them. She kissed me full on the lips – my first such kiss, it stayed with me
for three years. It was 1953 and Tony Bennett was top of the ‘hit parade’ with
– “Stranger in Paradise”.  (For sequel
see end piece)



Personally I dread things like AGMs – get anxious in case no
one comes – in case it’s boring – but last Friday was a real boost. David
Puttnam is clearly an exceptional person. Kyla Brand wrote in Agenda’s e-mail
bulletin (website:
“we heard a stunning presentation – Lord Puttnam gave his own take on
community, sustainability, responsibility – closely linked to the role of the
media and the ascendancy of the citizen over the consumer. It was a privilege
to be there.” But as usual it was our members – meeting and talking and sharing
– that made the magic. Simon has posted on the website – minutes and Lord
Puttnam’s speech. Personal thanks to everyone who came.




Last Wednesday was the last day for submitting opinions to
the government’s consultation process on CICs. We were misled if we thought
that this was a legal structure suited as an alternative for our sector – it
clearly isn’t. Uncapped payments to trustees/board members is not what we do.
Our view is that CICs are intended to grow a new sector – mainly delivering
public services – positioned somewhere between our social enterprises and the
unpopular private sector PFIs. By far the best analytical response we’ve seen
from either side of the border is from our own Scottish Social Enterprise
Coalition – assisted by the considerable skills and experience of the solicitor
Stephen Phillips. You can read this at:



The Scottish Executive’s consultation process towards
developing a strategy for the social economy seems to be going well. The
seminar theme, ‘social entrepreneurs’, which Senscot helped convene, happened
on Tuesday and threw up some good stuff. It is intended that the points raised
by all 7 themes (Details:
will be collated by the Executive later this year into a funded action plan.
The bad news is that Mark Batho, the civil servant who leads this work, is
leaving, switching to another department. 
Mark was approachable, enthusiastic and clever.  Recently some momentum has been building,
let us hope this is not lost.

One aspect of Tuesday’s seminar
was disconcerting, in that SCVO (Scottish Council of Voluntary organisations)
decided at the last minute to send a representative, even though none had been
invited. I hadn’t realised that they assumed the authority to do things like
that – and there is a lesson here.  Does
this mean independent organisations like the Scottish Social Enterprise
Coalition are seen as subordinate to SCVO in policy matters? But what if SCVO
doesn’t support the development of social enterprise as a discrete sector with
its own tailored infrastructure (as in England)? – Then I for one don’t want
them speaking for me.  This needs to be
addressed.  Who legitimately represents
our emerging sector?



YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t
carry every notice you send. But please send in any relevant items and we’ll
post it on our site (Send in your items to
This week:


Business: Alan Hobbett of Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust
alerts us to an opportunity to acquire wind turbines – economical and
environmental. Creative arrangements such as equity share considered.


Events: On Sunday 22nd there is another ‘Theatre Nemo
Presents…’ night of entertainment in Paisley, and the Craigencault Midsummer
Festival in Kinghorn, Fife. ‘Get Into Enterprise And The Social Economy’
courses are scheduled for the autumn in Edinburgh. 


Jobs: Green Spaces Scotland are recruiting a Development
Officer and Communications Officer. Edinburgh Home-Link Partnership has
vacancies for four project officers.


For details on these and more, visit:



Scotland unLTD, the new grants giving organisation for
social entrepreneurs, is looking to fill two places on its board. Their CEO,
Jim Bennett, tell us “We’re looking for two people, one preferably based in the
industrial west of Scotland and one in North East Scotland/Highlands &
Islands. Preferably both would have strong ties into grassroots social
entrepreneurial activities, with at least one having a good administrative
management background.” Interested? E-mail for further



The Scottish Enterprise Operating Plan 2003/04 specifies
that they will undertake business development reviews with (on p.11) 115 social
economy organisations, and (on p.73) 115 social enterprises. If, as is claimed,
there are 50,000 social economy organisations in Scotland – Senscot estimates
that less than 10% (4-5,000) are social enterprises. Confusing these terms
blurs important issues.



This week the bulletin profiles an emerging social
enterprise located close to West Wemyss in Fife. The Wilfully Organic Kingdom
(TWOK) is the brainchild of Jan Martinez, former student of Brag Enterprise’s
social entrepreneurs course. TWOK will offer a unique combination of
rehabilitative support and care programmes for ex-service personnel and people
recovering from mental health problems. They will do so through producing low
cost organic food for local communities and local businesses, offering
certified courses in organic horticulture as well as organising waste recycling
in the area. TWOK has secured property and land within Silverburn Park in Leven
on a 99 year lease in addition to land on the Wemyss estate and in Kirkaldy for
the creation of polytunnels. Premises have also been secured in Leven so that
TWOK can establish its own café. More: 



In 1987 I was given a book called The Miracle of
Mindfullness which calmed me at a time of turmoil – this book stays handy by
the side of my bed.  This Tuesday, the
24th June its author, Thich Nhat Hanh is speaking in Edinbrugh’s
McEwan Hall.  He is a 75 year old
Buddhist monk who has dedicated his life to working for peace.  I phoned for a ticket – sold out.  Isn’t it great that in our hyper-consumerist
times an old peaceful monk can sell out a venue.  No media hype – just the word – the spirit spreading.



In 1999 I am in Italy visiting our ‘tribal homelands’ –
lunching in the hotel where Sunday families gather. On the way to the toilet I
am stopped by a vision – a clone of the 17 year-old Ermenia. In shock I ask the
owner, “Is that girl called Ermenia?” “No,” she says, “Ermenia is her Nonna –
over there.” Another shock – the girl who gave me my first kiss – is an old
woman. I don’t introduce myself.  She
was with us less than a year – probably doesn’t remember.  But the owner must have said something – on
the way out she pauses – she calls me Lorenzino (wee Laurence) and smiling
asks, ‘do you remember the jam jars?’ We laugh.  She has many grandchildren – grabs them as they pass – recites
names proudly.  Everyone’s talking at once
– the noise is deafening.  “Has life
been good Ermenia?” With big smile, she says, “I thank God everyday.” Leaving,
she kisses me. I smile – “You once kissed me 47 years ago.” Her eyes flash
mischief – I know,” she says.


That’s all for this week. The network is growing.

Best wishes,



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