Senscot Bulletin: 23.03.12

Dear members and friends,

 Early in January – without warning – a disc in my lower spine moved out of alignment – pinching a nerve.  This resulted in severe right leg pain – which the doc called sciatica; an MRI scan confirmed ‘nerve root compression’.  For two months I depended on painkillers and a crutch to get around; there was no healing and I was beginning to think that the pain was forever – till a letter from the neurologist brought hope; "There is 90% chance that it will settle down – but if not, it would be amenable to decompressive surgery".  From that moment my morale and my mobility started to improve – both crutch and pills are now gone. I’ve become quite emotional about the NHS – what a marvellous thing it is.
 I have a fine Italian cypress tree in my garden which has grown to 12 feet; but it was caught by the gales at new year – left listing badly downwind.  During recent weeks, its pronounced droop has come to symbolise my own distress; when the sun came out on Thursday – suddenly it was important to restore this tree.  I devised a ‘guy rope strategy’ – made a wooden toggle – threaded the rope – drove a steel spike into the ground, slowly eased this proud specimen back to vertical.  Spectacular success! My ‘cupressus sempervirens’ stands tall and true once more; I myself – on the tools again – am straightening with each passing day. Spring is in the air.

The most organised third sector response to the Budget this week was from the social investment ‘set’ in the London Village – who are not best pleased.  It seems a bunch of them got together to advise Osborne what’s required – mainly around extending the scope of Community Investment Tax Relief. (CITR).  The Chancellor chose to ignore this and announced that the Treasury itself will lead a review of what inhibits investment into SE.  The social investment debate in England has been infiltrated by some city investment bankers – who want SE to attract investment by paying dividends – become a new ‘asset class’.  This can only be because they don’t know what we do, or why.  Big Society Capital – which will surface shortly – is run by such people.  Observe closely the way it faces. See,

The European Commission uses the terms social business and social enterprise interchangeably – so too does Senscot use them to mean the same thing.  In November 2011, the Commission made a significant step towards formally recognising the value of SE – by launching the Social Business Initiative; it would be mistaken to underestimate the significance of this move.  Not only are there potentially massive sums of money involved – but of equal importance is the commitment to policies which will empower our sector. See,

For all sorts of different reasons – over the past decade – Edinburgh has lost a whole litany of independent arts venues: la Belle Angele – the Big Red Door – The List – the Roxy Arthouse – the Forrest Café – and now Cabaret Voltaire and the Bongo Club.  The loss of these spaces – where people can try out creative and unusual ideas – is worrying for the cultural fabric of the capital.  This piece by Harry Giles explores the implications of this trend. See,

Kevin McCarra, a fine sports journalist, has written a book called Celtic; a biography in 9 lives.  Kevin’s a fan of course, but remains clear sighted enough to write this: "The rivalry between Celtic and Rangers is an ever more severe struggle that holds ever less interest for anyone outside the west of Scotland.  There is a danger that this rivalry may become the sole context in which each club exists".  Amen to that. See,

For as long as I can remember, the workers co-ops of Mondragon, in Spain’s Basque region, have been a beacon to the whole European social economy.  If you take 5 minutes to read this link you will see that they continue to blaze new trails – with real lessons to teach us all.  Worker’s cooperatives – and other ethical business models, like community share issues (see Crook Inn below) – do not share our Code, because they pay dividends.  But we are all part of the same New Economics – so that social fairness and protecting the planet will become preconditions of all economic activity.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Yoker Community Campus, FEAT Enterprises, Edinburgh Young Carers Project, COVEY Befriending, PSS Scotland, Playbusters Ltd, Lothian and Borders Police
EVENTS: The Social Enterprise Exchange, 27 Mar; Leading Scotland Conference, 28 Mar; WMH Workshop: Curious Project, 2 Apr; Art of Living Lifestyle Show, 3 Apr; Action Learning, 15 Apr
TENDERS: Domestic Abuse Community Support (DACS) Service, Erskine Green Network Project: Footpath Creation with Associated Hard & Soft Landscaping, Support to Social Enterprise in Fife and 3 Yr Term contract of annual PAT for Falkirk Council. For more details see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: A number of SENs are currently in negotiations with Third Sector Interface (TSI) partners to develop workplans and agree distribution of resources for the year ahead. Some of the feedback we’re receiving has been encouraging – with some SENs being allocated increased resources compared to last year, having been able to demonstrate positive outcomes in their contribution to supporting SE locally. In other areas, the picture is not as clear – with some confusion as to how allocations are reflecting the activity being delivered.  Let us know how you are getting on and if you’re happy to share your experiences with others. For more, contact  For more Networks News, see

The ‘Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprise in Scotland’ (The Code) will be launched on Tuesday, on the fringe of the SE Exchange (12noon at Learning Zone 1 – for 10/15mins). The Code has been put together following widespread consultation across the SE community over the last six months. Particular thanks must go to the ‘steering group’ for the time and effort put in – they know who they are. In short, the Code sets down the values and behaviours by which the Scottish SE community recognises each other. See,

I notice Philip Blond was in Scotland last week for the annual Assembly of the Scottish Poverty Alliance – an important event in the calendar of our civil society.  You can get a feel for the occasion form the conference videos posted on YouTube.  Blond is a good speaker. See,

One of Scotland’s oldest and most historic pubs looks like being saved through a community buy-out. Tweedsmuir Community Company (TCC) has provisionally agreed to buy and renovate the 400 year old Crook Inn – a regular haunt of both Rabbie Burns and John Buchan (The Thirty Nine Steps). They need to raise £160k by the end of the year. See,

The Community Channel, in partnership with the Sunday Times, is looking for nominations for their competition to find the Social Entrepreneur of the Year. If you fancy nominating someone, see details

In April 2004, the bulletin profiled the Bike Station that was then based in Waverley Station in Edinburgh. Since then, it has grown into Scotland’s largest bicycle recycling organisation – with additional outlets in Perth and Glasgow. The Glasgow Bike Station is having an eventful month. As well as moving to new premises in Haugh Road, Glasgow. In addition, they have been the recipient of a number of awards – First Prize at Scottish Green List National Award; Best sustainable transport project in Glasgow and Outstanding Green Project: and £450k by the Climate Challenge Fund for their ‘A Better Way To Work’ project. See more,

Academic and political commentator David Marquand always makes me think – his book ‘Decline of the Public’ is one I often return to.  In this week’s New Statesman he reviews two book about John Maynard Keynes – makes an essay out of it – calling for a new public philosophy.  Well worth a look. 
 "For Neoliberals, the unhindered pursuit of individual self-interest in free, competitive markets is morally right, as well as economically efficient.  Despite the current crisis, this vision is still enormously seductive.  It bathes immense disparities of reward in the odour of sanctity.  It tells the ultra-rich that they are morally entitled to their riches.  Above all, it runs with the grain of a society in awe of the holy trinity of choice, freedom and the individual, in virtually every sphere of life, from the most intimate to the most public.  Good capitalism will not replace bad capitalism until that trinity is toppled from its perch.  What is needed is a new public philosophy, hammered out in a national conversation transcending old divisions of party and creed.  The conversation has already started.  The great challenge of our times is to make that conversation bite ". See,

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210