Senscot Bulletin: 20.08.10

Dear members and friends,

 In his Observer column this week, Kevin McKenna writes that Jimmy Reid was one of post-war Scotland’s four most inspirational and important people; his others being Jock Stein, Billy Connolly and Margo MacDonald.  He gives the reason that “They made working people proud of themselves – helped them find an identity and a voice.”  These four champions – and equally, McKenna’s reason for their importance – are quintessentially Scottish – precious to me.  To consolidate this Scottishness, I would like our country to be more independent.
 I’m reading ‘And the Land Lay Still’ by James Robertson – a novel set in Scotland from the 1950s to the present day – the span of my lifetime.  He captures the 1970s well – a period of political awakening in Scotland – (including my own).  In 1971 and 72, I was at Moray House – a ‘mature’ student – loving it – sitting all hours on peoples carpets – drinking – arguing the politics of socialism and independence.  One of the characters in Robertson’s book is a sort of government agent – spook – out and about to gauge the popular mood – whither this surge of nationalism will become unstoppable.  He concludes, correctly, that it will pass – that ‘the people’ aren’t ready to rise; that more likely, the Scots will drift away from the Union – without drama.  The book suggests: “Maybe that’s what were doing, drifting – but we know it`s happening and we like the direction of travel.  We’re on a journey and sooner or later we’ll get to where we’re going.”

By slashing the numbers of Third Sector strategic partners – the new UK Govt makes it clear that it intends to reconfigure the infrastructure of the sector in England – further from the state.  In Scotland there is less indication of bold intent – but it’s a no brainer that in the autumn spending review, there will be pressure from Victoria Quay to squeeze better value from less investment.  Over the past 3 years, the social enterprise world has been developing and testing a new, bespoke support infrastructure.  Some aspects of this ‘pipeline’ have worked better than others – there is now an opportunity to reinforce what’s good – eliminate blockages, wastage, overlap.  In the absence of any internal ‘re-adjustment’ by ourselves – civil servants will simply trim according to central govts more remote priorities; that’s their job.

In a recent article, political commentator Gerry Hassan describes a Scotland shaped by the forces of conservatism – where place-people, all across civil society, block change – the remnants of Labour’s extended state. He asks whither there is a progressive version – a Scottish variant of ‘the Big Society’ – which could shift power – clear some of the debris – space for radical ideas.

Yesterday, I listened to Jimmy Reid’s Govan send off on Radio Scotland – much loved and inspired great respect. His1972 rectorial address is now the stuff of legend – will live on. It culminates in a passionate appeal for community empowerment and local democracy: “To unleash the latent potential of our people requires that we give them responsibility.  The untapped resources of the North Sea are as nothing compared to the untapped resources of our people.  A necessary part of this must be the restructuring of the institutions of government and where necessary, the evolution of additional structures so as to involve the people in the decision making processes of our society. The so-called experts will tell you that this would be cumbersome of marginally inefficient.  I am prepared to sacrifice a margin of efficiency for-the value of the people’s participation.  Anyway, in the longer term, I reject this argument.”  The speech is on our homepage – worth a visit. See,

The Bundesliga – Germany’s top football division – recently reaffirmed its rule that clubs must be majority owned by a democratic supporters association – an acknowledgement of the immense social value of football clubs.  This is the essential message of a recent report commissioned by Supporters Direct – that clubs have the potential to act as rallying points of civic pride.  The report argues that clubs should formally recognise their social role – face outwards to their communities.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: St Peter’s Edinburgh; Voluntary Arts Scotland; Wester Hailes Health Agency; Mayfield and Easthouses Youth 2000 Project; Gorgie City Farm; Gowrie Care Ltd; Turning Point Scotland
EVENTS: More Than Furniture, 24 Aug; Hatches, Matches and Dispatches, 25 Aug; Next steps for social enterprise in Scotland, 2 Sep; EVOLVE workshops, 23 Sep; Another Lost Generation? 28 Sep;
TENDERS: ITT for an Advertising Campaign – Dundee; Ground Maintenance Contract; Window Cleaning Contract; Collection and Reprocessing of Dry Recyclables and Collection of Food Waste;

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: The whole issue of SEN participation in Single Interfaces has been to the fore over the last couple of weeks. 11 SENs are either partners or in discussions to become partners with some participating in the SVA Learning events. If you are, please make sure to confirm places with your local CVS. ( We’re also aware of another Interface event being organised by CVS and VC Networks in Glasgow, early in October. See details,  ( Senscot has been told that organisers are prepared to consider a block booking on behalf of SEN members. If you’re interested, contact Alternatively, SENs may consider holding their own event on this issue?
For more Networks News, see

Senscot Legal Services (SLS) is now open for business. SLS has been set up to provide Scotland`s social enterprise community and wider third sector with accessible and affordable legal services. Our lead solicitor, Alan Dunipace, is now in post and operating from new premises in Bath Street in Glasgow. Whilst there`s still some setting up to be done, Alan will be out and about over the next couple of weeks making some initial contacts. You can reach Alan at See more,

The supply side of social investment and the role of the forthcoming wholesale bank is clearly explained in this piece by John Kingston (Director of CAF Venturesome). It’s a helpful overview. Hopefully, in Scotland, we`ll have our own equivalent mechanism.  Is this where Social Investment Scotland (SIS) could go? See

The UK Govt`s flagship employment and training initiative, The Work Programme, will be implemented next year. The new programme will integrate existing programmes under one banner. The Wise Group has registered its interest to act as a provider in Scotland and is holding a series of events to engage with potential partners and key stakeholders in the welfare field. The events will take place over the next month at five locations. If you’d like to participate, see

CEiS is holding its annual Social Enterprise Conference at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on 2nd September. This year’s event `Realising Potential – next steps for social enterprise in Scotland` has already attracted considerable interest but, fortunately, there are some places still available. If you’re interested, see

This week’s bulletin profiles an emerging social enterprise based in Springburn in Glasgow. The North Glasgow Community Food Initiative (NGCFI) has been on the go since 2001. It was initially established by students from Student Action For Refugees (STAR) at Glasgow University, changing its name to NGCFI as it broadened its focus to include expanded fruit and vegetable services, a delivery service, an allotment project and cookery activities. It has continued to grow ever since and is currently seeking new Board members and volunteers.  For more, see
From “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” by Prof. David Landes
“In this world, the optimists have it, not because they are always right, but because they are positive. Even when wrong, they are positive, and that is the way of achievement, correction, improvement and success. Educated – eyes open optimism – pays, pessimism can only offer empty consolation of being right. The one lesson that emerges is the need to keep trying. No miracles. No perfection. No millennium. No apocalypse. We must cultivate a sceptical faith, avoid dogma, listen and watch well, try to clarify and define ends, the better to choose means.”

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

Best wishes,


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