Senscot Bulletin: 23.07.10

Dear members and friends,

 Unusually for me, I was on the move twice last week – Wednesday to London for work – Saturday to St Andrews for the Open Golf – interesting contrast.  At Waterloo, I’m aware that my destination (Stamford St) is nearby – but the pedestrians I approach for directions ignore me – just keep walking.  The ‘experiencing’ part of my mind is perplexed then indignant; the ‘observing’ part is intrigued – why are Londoners so apprehensive about contact with strangers – they seem afraid.  I’ve always considered Fifers a reticent, even taciturn breed – but on Saturday I enjoyed their simple good manners – sardonic humour.  I don’t want to make too much of this but there’s a lesson here about the kind of society we want to live in.
 The entry price for the Open on Saturday was £60 – which I consider outrageous.  Can’t imagine many locals paying that – too sensible.  Major celebrations of sport – the World Cup in South Africa – the Open at St Andrews etc – are part of the ‘the commons’ – the social glue which binds society together – to price such gatherings beyond the reach of ordinary citizens is disrespectful and diminishes everyone.  Queuing for an overpriced hamburger, I watch shuttle helicopters deposit ‘the carriage trade’ from golf clubs all over Scotland (£300 a head) – recognise a bunch from my old club heading for the champagne tent – feel jealous.  Was it Oscar Wilde who said: “Every time a friend of mine succeeds, a small part of me dies” ? Just kidding, folks.

Before the 2007 Parliamentary elections, the SNP made impressive commitments to advance community empowerment in Scotland – including a pilot programme of ‘Empowered Status’ as an option for struggling areas.  This is their list of promises. But this agenda got lost in ‘the Concordat’ with local govt. – the 2008 Empowerment Action Plan was a collaboration with COSLA – so no challenge to municipal bullying of communities.  We now know that the SNP are no more keen than the Labour Party to devolve power to communities.  In England, one senses that David Cameron is going to have a real go at this.  Of course it needs to be in partnership with a well funded state – but let`s not set up false dichotomies.  Cameron has tapped into a vein of gold and he’s going to keep mining it.  In spite of the Scottish political establishment things are going to start changing.  Julian Dobson puts Big Society in historical context

I went down to London last week to better understand community share issues and thanks to a masterly presentation by Jim Brown of Baker Brown Associates, I achieved my purpose.  This guy knows his stuff.  There’s a link for anyone interested.  The other purpose of my visit was to get the gossip – the vibe of the UK sector in the current climate.  The mood I detected was one of convergence – lots of intermediaries talking of shared missions and collaboration.  Wonder if this will spread to Scotland.

In his column last week, Stephen Maxwell argues that it is the poorest citizens who will be hardest hit by impending cuts in public spending – and that the all party pledges to reduce child poverty will be shredded.  He calls on the SNP and Labour to work together to defend the poor – on common issues like the expansion of a living wage through the public sector.  See

Although Senscot failed to prevent the Social Enterprise Mark (SEM) from relaxing its profit distribution rule – we believed we had convinced them about Leisure Trusts. Our view is that most Leisure Trusts are simply the Local Authority by another name – not independent social enterprises. News this week that Tone Leisure (South West England) has been awarded the SEM – a decision that will change the definition of our sector; It looks as though the floodgates could be about to open. See more,

The core philosophy of social enterprise ‘The Big Issue’ is encapsulated in the strapline “A hand up – not a handout.”  Founder John Bird’s call last week for this principle to be applied to the benefit system is the line he has always taken – that unless state benefit is conditional on some effort from the recipient we risk entrenching dependency.  He’s right of course.  But the poverty campaigners are also right.  To stigmatise poor people as lazy – because of a few chancers – is untrue, unjust and is an attack on the most vulnerable amongst us.  The right balance on this one is difficult.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Stepping Stones for Families, NVA, St Peter’s Edinburgh, The Advocacy Project, Loanhead Church of Scotland, Scottish Throughcare & Aftercare Forum, Genetic Alliance UK, The Big Issue in Scotland Magazine, Challenges Worldwide;
EVENTS: More Than Furniture 2010, 24 Jul; Realising Potential – next steps for social enterprise in Scotland, 2 Sep; Understanding Social Enterprise, 9 Sep; The Facilitative Manager, 17 Sep,
TENDERS: School Transport and Local Bus Services, Provision of Timber Sheet Materials, Provision of ICT training & consultancy, Fostering Placements, Provision of Coaching Skills, Recycling of Waste, Educational resource to support Adults with Incapacity and Adult Support Protection (Scotland) Acts

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: The first issue of`s online `Brief` will be available next week.  The quarterly `Brief` will aim to give news updates and background on RfB. Issue No.1 highlights the success of Unity Enterprise in winning a large catering contract for the Commonwealth Games Velodrome.  If you have any such stories you`d like to share, please let us know.  Interest in the Register is continuing to grow with 219 enterprising third sector organisations now signed up and, in the last fortnight, approaches from 8 private sector firms looking to work/make contact with the social enterprise community. For more info, contact For more Networks News,

Senscot Legal Services (SLS) will be up and running from Monday 2nd August. The new service will be led by Alan Dunipace (our Lead Solicitor) and will operate from premises in Bath St in Glasgow. Over the next few weeks, we’ll keep you updated on new contact details but, in the meantime, contact for any further info. See background on SLS,

In April, the bulletin profiled WASPS` new venture in Glasgow – The Briggait. Tonight sees its formal launch with a big bash in their new venue. The Briggait offers, amongst other things, 45 studios for visual artists; 24 offices for cultural organisations; and 5 shop-front units for creative industry companies. Senscot wishes them every success with their exciting new venture. See more

As social enterprises come under increasing pressure from govts. to deliver services – there is a danger they will adopt mainstream business practices which blunt their effectiveness.  This case study from Oz describes two social enterprises which have stuck with innovative economic practices.  They are both about sustainable local food production and if that is one of your interests you should take a look at  I have met one of the founders – mucho impressive.

This week’s bulletin profiles the Ladywood Leisure Centre in Penicuik (Midlothian) that has been run as a social enterprise by the Penicuik Community, Sport and Leisure Foundation since 2007. With 3 paid staff and over 30 volunteers, the Ladywood Centre provides a range of facilities and activities for the local community with the Centre averaging over 1500 users each week. Their mission statement is "run by Penicuik people for Penicuik people". See more,

“The world of books is the most remarkable creation of humankind.  Nothing else that we build ever lasts.  Monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others.  But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling our hearts of the hearts of others centuries dead.”  Clarence S Day (US writer)

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.”  Ernest Hemingway

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

Best wishes,


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