Senscot Bulletin: 20-10-2006

Dear members and friends,

Two weeks is a good break – long enough to chill – to build a buffer zone from discouragement – to play again with old daydreams of ‘escape to the sun’. The health and public services here in Spain seem first rate. The economy is jumping. The Spaniards didn’t fall for the Thatcher myth – not to the same extent. Family values remain strong – they retain the hold on their children we’ve lost through guilt in the UK. And perhaps most tempting of all – this is one of the finest climates in the world. But ‘moving shop’ is not for me – not at my age. Scotland can be dark and the folk dour – but they’re my ain folk and somehow that matters most.
 Going home on Tuesday I felt the familiar guilt of the truant, and wrote a page of things I must do – to appease the teacher? But in rare moments of clarity I realise that it is not in doing more and more – but in doing less and less – that fulfilment lies. This is the essential message of the marvellous ‘Tao Te Ching’ which is the wisest book I know. ‘In the pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added. In the practise of the Tao, everyday something is dropped. Less and less do we need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action. When nothing is done – nothing is left undone.’ It’s difficult for us in the west to comprehend this contradiction – but that’s where I’m trying to go.

Gordon Brown was in Glasgow on 13th October giving the Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture. Once again he spoke about ‘shaping a new constitutional settlement of the relationship between individuals, their communities and government.’ I think he’s got something up his sleeve. He also reeled off half a dozen measures to empower communities – but on this occasion stopped short of mentioning the transfer of assets to community ownership. But it’s communities owning wealth which is the true empowerment – the rest is tokenistic. Traditional Labour struggles with this one. Brown seems to vacillate. Which way will he go? This excerpt is worth your attention.

Again on the subject of communities holding wealth – I went to the SURF Annual Lecture on September 21st  to hear Geoff Mulgan – Director of the Young Foundation speaking about regeneration. Much of what he said was interesting but on the subject of asset transfer he is a Municipalist. It’s the old issue about the legitimacy and accountability of non-elected community organisations. He compared it to the changes in the housing field over the last 30 years – as though Housing Associations are somehow reprehensible. The Municipalist stance is a reasonable one – if its advocates ‘come out’ like Mulgan and openly debate the issue. In Scotland, they are less honest. Here’s a piece I wrote on asset transfer in July.

Here are two happy links to cheer us up. Mohammed Yunus speaking about receiving the Nobel Peace prize. plus Willie McSporran talking about the spectacular success of the Gigha Heritage Trust in turning round the fortunes of their island     

Marketing is the most important organisational activity that social enterprises would like help with. This is one of the key findings of a recent report produced by consultancy firm, Rocket Science. The Report, ‘The Marketing Needs of the Social Enterprise Sector’ was published last week and arose from time that Rocket Science gave to a social enterprise as part of their support for last year’s Social Enterprise Ceilidh.  Keira Farley, from Rocket Science, will be running workshops on this theme at this year’s event.

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: 43 vacancies, incl. posts with: Cyrenians, Working for Environmental Community Action Now, Big Lottery Fund, Positive Voice, Blue Horizon,  Almond Enterprises, The REAL Project.

EVENTS: 27 events, incl. Sharing IT 06/07, Social Firms Scotland & Scottish Business in the Community, November 06-April 2007; Willow Coffin-making Workshop – Natural Way Burial, 4-5 November; Out of the Maze: step by step guide to business planning for social enterprise, Edinburgh, 29-29 Nov, Babes in the Wood – Gorbals Youth & Community Theatre, 9 Dec, Glasgow.

Excellent blog on progress in the organic and environmental work of Inverness’s REAL project can be found at

Are you a social enterprise interested in running an established healthy eating café in Glasgow?

The Senscot Exchange has recently supported a ‘job shadow’ pilot. Two Network Members, Emma Hutton (Edinburgh Cyrenians) and Diane Henderson (CESEL) spent a day shadowing each other. Here’s what they thought about it: This is another example of how peer support can benefit social entrepreneurs and their enterprises. The Exchange would be happy to broker further ‘job shadows’.  If you’re interested, contact

Congratulations are in order for The Social Enterprise Academy. Last week, they became only the second centre in Scotland to receive approval from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) to deliver its new Leadership qualifications. The Academy is now approved to deliver a range of six accredited programmes in Scotland including another brand new award – Understanding Social Enterprise. See new modular programme will be available from early next year. Over 140 people have benefited from this year’s action learning programmes. For info’ on the Academy, contact

This week’s bulletin profiles a very new social enterprise being launched by CESEL in the Scottish Borders. The Borders Van Delivery Service (BVDS) was launched this week and is testing out the market locally and nationally. In particular, BVDS hopes to target other social enterprises. This will include not only those who don’t have the capacity or don’t want the responsibility of running a vehicle but also those who will benefit from the widening or expansion of their market. BVDS hopes to be employing two full-time drivers by the end of its first year as well as offering work experience opportunities.
For further info’, see

‘How to behave with the Ill’ by Julia Darling.

‘Approach us assertively, try not to cringe or sidle, it makes us fearful. Rather walk straight up and smile. Do not touch us unless invited, particularly don’t squeeze upper arms, or try to hold hands. Keep your head erect. Don’t bend down, or lower your voice. Speak evenly. Don’t say ‘How are you?’ in an underlined voice. Don’t say, I heard that you were very ill. This makes the poorly paranoid. Be direct, say ‘How’s your cancer?’ Try not to say how well you look, compared to when we met in Safeway’s. Please don’t cry, or get emotional, and say how dreadful it all is. Also (and this is hard I know) try not to ignore the ill, or to scurry past, muttering about a bus, the bank. Remember that this day might be your last and that it is a miracle that any of us stands up breathes, behaves at all.’

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

Best wishes,

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