Senscot Bulletin: 23-02-2007

Dear members and friends,

Many thanks to those who sent good wishes on my hospital visit on Wednesday. I got myself into a right state with dire imaginings of pain and humiliation, but the reality was sensitive and respectful with minimal discomfort. If that level of discomfort involved your big toe, you wouldn’t bother – it`s psychological – the emotional significance of our different ‘bits’.
The procedure was carried out by two ‘specialist nurses’ – not a doctor in sight. Jill and Alisdair have a fine-tuned a unit which only does prostate biopsies – two young folk who take pride and pleasure in providing a great service – constantly trying to improve it. I’ve written to their managers expressing appreciation of their skill, dedication and courtesy – saying that their example should be copied. This episode has refreshed my admiration for the human race and our NHS – thousands of people helping each other on a daily basis. Inspiring.
The private health sector is aptly named because it’s only the privacy bit they do better than the NHS. There is something faintly ridiculous about eight guys sitting in silence, trying to ignore each other, wearing nothing except a flimsy hospital gown. Some men don’t even know why women sit with their legs together.

Ray Perman, Chairman of Social Investment Scotland (SIS) has gone public to demand that the Scottish share of the ‘Unclaimed Assets’ money should be distributed from up here. I certainly agree with this principle (and will join the campaign to achieve it) but I don’t agree that SIS is an appropriate distributor. Most insiders agree there is no shortage of funds for social enterprises which are bankable or nearly bankable – it’s the customers that are missing. The Treasury-backed Commission on Unclaimed Assets makes it clear that its primary aim is to get resources into our very poorest communities ‘beyond the reach of commercial investment’. Until such communities have the most basic infrastructure – like their own development trust – loan finance is irrelevant. 

Further evidence of a widening picture of difficulties for organisations providing care services comes with news that Disability Charity Cornerstone is withdrawing from a care contract with Aberdeen Council. It warns that it may end this year hundreds of thousands in the red – despite ending its last financial year with a surplus of £17,000. Other charities, including Turning Point, have turned down council contracts in recent years, due to their inability to recover the full cost of delivery from local authorities.  A recent report by GEN Consulting for the Executive confirms that the delivery of services by the sector at less than full cost is widespread in Scotland. See Report findings,

Oliver Letwin who is in charge of Tory policy development was asked in a recent interview to define the fundamental difference between his and the Labour party’s approach to social enterprise. This is what he said: “It’s not an ideological difference. In simple terms theirs is a centralist approach, ours a localist approach.” The difference between the two approaches is fundamental and dramatic in its implications – particularly in Scotland where the localism agenda has no champion. If you would like to support the community agenda, you can sign up here:

Our appeal for donations to the bulletin will continue until the end of March. You can donate online at or send a cheque (and address so we can send you a receipt) payable to Senscot, 54 Manor Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7EH. If your contribution is £25 or more, you can go on the register of Senscot company members – as an individual only. Just let us know. Existing company members will be contacted over the next week or so with regard to membership renewal.

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: 35 vacancies, incl. posts with: PilotLight, Assynt Foundation, Lochaber Credit Union Ltd, Enterprising Eastern Perthshire, Community Woodlands Association, The Soap Company.

EVENTS:15 events, incl. More than Recycling, CRNS Conference, Perth, March 14; Social Enterprise Academy Prospectus Launch: March 16 – Inverness, 27 – Glasgow, 29 – Edinburgh; Supporting Social Enterprise in a Rural Setting, Dunkeld, March 27;

Have a look at this job up in North West Sutherland.  If I was young again, I’d dive at a challenge like this

At present, there are 14 Local Social Enterprise Networks (LSENs) across the country. It is intended that they evolve as sustainable and independent bodies.  The good news emanating from Argyll and Bute is that Communities Scotland has agreed to fund a part-time support worker and development of a website for the A&B SEN. Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT) will act as host organisation. We believe that replicating this model in other areas would significantly increase the effectiveness and impact of the sector at a local level. Over the next year, Senscot will help other Networks access similar start-up funding.  For info’ on the LSENs, see our page on website:

The Social Enterprise Academy is launching a new prospectus with three information and taster events around the country – Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The new programmes will cover a wider range of topics. As well as looking at leadership and social business development, new courses include understanding social enterprise and social accounting. Director Jackie Scutt tells us everything is now organised into two-day modules so that participants can pick and mix to create their own personal study programme and at a pace that fits with their work schedule. More info’, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a dynamic recycling enterprise in Moray. The Green Home, set up by Moray Recycling Action Group in January 2005 and based in Buckie, is a community furniture reuse & recycling social enterprise. The aim of the business is to collect unwanted furniture and electrical appliances, refurbish them and provide them to members of the community in greatest need. The Green Home has already been exploring further initiatives with other recycling enterprises and in currently working in partnership with FEAT Enterprise’s Springback in establishing MattressCycle in the Moray area. For info’, see

I’m a fan of Nigerian writer Ben Okri. Here’s a quote from a recent interview – and link to more of it:
“Most of us are pretty astonished when we feel love, and discover to our amazement that it’s not like what we thought it was, nor how the films tell us it is. It is different; it is richer. It’s very troubling and very chaotic. It turns our world upside down. It challenges many of our belief systems and our prejudices. But love also inspires the confidence to take risks with one another. You just don’t know what trust in another person can lead to. And love is about courage. Do we have the courage to smile at somebody we meet for the first time, the courage to be friendly and warm, the courage to venture into unknown territory and encounter other people, with common sense and a clear, awakened mind?”

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

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available at Word Power, 43 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. See: