Senscot Bulletin: 20.11.09

Dear members and friends,

Since I started getting the flu jab years ago, I’ve never really been smitten, and came to think of myself as immune – but my trip to London last week proved my undoing – now I’m confined to bed, feeling sorry for myself. I’m a seasoned veteran of the influenza virus and have even been hospitalised twice with pneumonia. The present bout measures only about six on the physical symptoms scale – but for some reason it has rocked me emotionally – the words which come to mind are `cowering timorous beastie`.
 Opposite my sick bed – on the wardrobe door – is a print of Cezanne`s oft-painted Mont St-Victoire. I don’t pretend to understand this work – it’s there because of his formidable reputation – even Picasso said, ‘Cezanne is the father of us all’; I’ve been waiting since June for it to reveal itself to me. Inspired by this very picture, Seamus Heaney wrote a poem about Cezanne of which he said, ‘ What I love is the thought of his anger – sitting there, his grumpy, contrary old back turned to us as he faces the humpy, countervailing mountain. I love the doggedness, his courage to face into the job – again and again; rewarded with those incontrovertible paintings – so steady in themselves they steady you and the world – you in the world.’ That’s what I feel just now – steadied by Mont St-Victoire – and grateful to Paul Cezanne

Upbeat video clip of Gordon hosting social enterprises at Downing St this week

Senscot was close enough to the drafting of the 2007 Social Enterprise Strategy to see what our civil servants are capable of – it was a mighty impressive exercise. That’s why I can’t understand the drift and muddle around the current discussions about how our third sector should organise itself. On the one hand, we’ve got the SVA programme (in which the Lottery has invested millions). Can anyone explain where that is going? Then there’s the new breakaway group VAS which is trying to co-ordinate the local interfaces at a national level. How do VAS and SVA connect – with each other – and with the Govt and Lottery? Is there a strategy somewhere? Isn’t it time someone got hold of this muddle? Is it really feasible that a single interface can represent the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors? Meantime, as of April, the main conduit between the third sector and the state in Scotland will be cash-strapped local authorities. Scottish Govt may be off the hook but there is likely to be carnage on the front line across the country.  

Local People Leading (LPL) has expressed its disappointment that after seven months elements of the Scottish Govt’s Community Empowerment Action Plan have slipped – like the promised replacement for the Community Voices Programme. LPL is an informal alliance of networks which work in our community sector and which between them serve around 1400 local community groups. They have published a one page `Getting Back on Track` paper with 6 key points. See here, 

The Big Lottery Fund is to select six villages from across the UK which are mounting projects to revive their communities. Each of the 6 winners will be aided by a village `champion` who will live and work in the village for a year – and their progress will be documented in a six part BBC 1 series. The shortlist of 28 locations has now been published and it contains 5 Scottish hopefuls. It is intended that wide exposure will inspire other villages to follow the enterprise route. See more,

Going about the country, Senscot staff get a good feel for the deal flow in Scotland’s social enterprise community – the demand and supply of money for social investment. The two Govt Funds – £12m and £30m – seem to be moving well enough and have made a huge difference. But the wider debate, about the long term availability of social investment, seems more advanced in England where there are more specialist players. Here’s an interesting perspective from Michele Giddens, founder CEO of Bridges Ventures. 

Civil society – citizens acting outwith the direction of the state – goes way beyond the voluntary sector – encompassing churches, unions, academe and many others.  There would be a huge benefit if these diverse groups could agree a shared set of core messages ‘from civil society’ in response to the multiple crises our society is facing.  There is a proposal to hold a ‘Civil Society in Scotland’ Conference in February to try to move closer to such a shared response.  Senscot supports this initiative.  Ruchir Shah of SCVO has prepared a thoughtful concept paper.  

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: The Three Eyes Project, Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland, The Scottish Government, The Big Issue in Scotland, Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland, Community Enterprise, Bethany Christian Trust, Camphill Blair Drummond Trust, Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Trust, Comas, St Johns Church;
EVENTS: Ethical Enterprise Fair, 21 Nov; Prove, Improve, Account, 25 Nov; Community Market, 28 Nov; Sustainable Innovation Ltd 26 Nov; Refurbished Computer Sale 5 Dec; Ride Planet Earth 6 Dec;

NETWORKS NEWS:  Colin writes: Yesterday’s Ceilidh was our fifth and, again, proved a great success. Around 120 people attended – 85 from LSENs – and enjoyed a lively day with a number of great contributions – including a star turn from Scottish Govt`s Geoff Pearson. This year saw a double whammy with The Wooden Spoon (Dundee International Women`s Centre) winning both the Dragons` Den and the Audience prizes. We’ll have a fuller report for next week. For more Networks News, see  

On Tuesday evening, the Scottish Parliament hosted the first Scottish Social Enterprise Awards. Nine social enterprises were short-listed for three categories. The winners (all LSEN members) were the Breadmaker, Social Enterprise Clydebank and Alloa Community Enterprises. They will now go forward to the UK finals at an event to be held in London next month. The online voting website goes live today allowing people across the UK to cast their vote. It’s a good opportunity to support our Scottish representatives. See more

The Social Enterprise Academy (SSEA) is currently recruiting for its third 20:Twenty Leadership Residential –  its first in the Highlands and Islands and specifically for people based in that area. The residential will be running from 26th-29th January 2010 at the Knipoch Hotel, near Oban. The programme is aimed at those working in or aspiring to a leadership or management role within the social enterprise or third sector organization. See details plus the views of a previous participant.   

Our bulletin has, over the years, promoted the work of Richard Wilkinson – a world authority on the effects of inequality. He’s been invited to be the keynote speaker at SCVO’s ‘Building our Futures’ Conference at Glasgow City Chambers on 25th Nov. See more, 

This week’s bulletin profiles an emerging social enterprise, based in Glasgow, that takes an innovative approach to supporting people experiencing the downside of ill health, depression and anxiety, employment problems or anyone who would benefit from a laugh. Universal Comedy, founded in 2004, delivers a unique range of comedy workshops and training courses and is managed by people with long-term physical ill health problems. For more, see

‘One for the Old Boy’ by Charles Bukowski.

‘He was just a cat – cross-eyed, a dirty white – with pale blue eyes. I won’t bore you with his history – just to say he had much bad luck – and was a good old guy – and he died – like people die – like elephants die – like rats die – like flowers die – like water evaporates and the wind stops blowing. The lungs gave out last Monday. Now he’s in the rose garden – and I’ve heard a stirring march playing for him inside of me – which I know – not many – but some of you would like to know about. That’s all.’

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

Best wishes,

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