Senscot Bulletin: 23.09.11

Dear members and friends,

 Good supper on Tuesday with Tommy – at the Four Marys in Linlithgow.  We’re the same age – former drunks – enjoy philosophical slavering.  “Has it been a good life Laurence?”  The question surprises me – don’t have a ready answer.  “You mean so far?” I smile “I feel I’ve been lucky – can’t think of anyone I’d rather be – but I wasn’t very good at the love thing – too scared.”  Tommy quotes something Rilke wrote – which I recognise.  “For one human being to love another – that is perhaps the most difficult of all tasks – the ultimate – the last test and proof – the work for which all other work is but preparation”.  “Yes”, I say, “sometimes I’m able to feel that I love and am loved – but not in the way Rilke means – I fail that test”.  But I suspect many people fail Rilke’s test. Find myself wondering if I’ve had a good life.
 Where I live is a minor beauty spot – folk park and go walking in the woods.  I’m looking through the window at a young couple – very much in love.  They’re swaddling a tiny new baby into a kind of pouch – dangling on his chest; anyone can see how happy they are.  (Ray Carver’s words) “They walk quietly, slowly, holding hands – the love in their young faces.  Maybe it will last forever – if they are lucky, and good, and forbearing, and careful.  If they are true to each other – this most of all.  As they will be, of course – as they will be – as they know they will be.”

The UK Labour Party is reviewing its policy for the third sector – on which it has been silent for some time; some fundamental ideological decisions need to be made. Philip Blond (of Respublica) says that Labour has not yet worked out the balance between the state and civil society – this is true. These notes from Labour’s current discussions are well focused. See,
In Scotland, our SNP Govt tends to avoid ideological positioning (when it can) but for purely pragmatic reasons, there continues to be unwavering support for social enterprise. I’ll settle for that. Wednesday’s three year spending plan delivered the third sector a standstill budget – which in the present climate, amounts to preferential treatment. This extract outlines the reasons for Govt support of our sector.

The social enterprise community has a right wing and a left wing – Senscot’s on the left. We see social enterprise as part of an emerging, alternative economic system – an ‘eco-social’ market economy – which regards social fairness and protection of the environment as vital criteria for all economic activity. Those on the right are more comfortable with market fundamentalism and would like to relax social enterprise’s boundary with private commerce. Most of the social enterprise blogs in England (over 50 of them) are right wing. David Floyd is one of the more thoughtful.

Former Labour MP, Brian Wilson does a regular and straight talking column in the West Highland Free Press; his present offering ‘Has the sector lost its way?’ is worth a read. It’s a strong tract against centralism – in support of small and local. See,

The thing I like most about the unLtd programmes which Firstport administer – is that they reach places no-one else reaches; individuals with ideas to help their communities – the pre start-up stage – right down to street level. The new programme, Live unLtd, extends this to young people – aged 11 -21. Mentoring support and money – up to 16 – £500 max; 16 to 21 – £5,000 max. I think this is an inspired initiative – find out more,

The Senscot Seminar on 30th Sept is officially full. We’ve managed to negotiate extra space and been able to accommodate all those who were on the ‘reserve list’.  We’ll have three keynote speakers on the day: Laurence Demarco (Senscot); Jim Mullan (KibbleWorks); and Geof Cox. In addition, we’ll be running a ‘Soapbox’ to allow contributions from as many attendees as possible. See our programme here,

Congratulations to David Robb on his appointment as new CEO of OSCR – we wish him good fortune in his new role. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See This week:
JOBS: Craft Town Scotland/West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd; Fife Employment Access Trust; Church of Scotland; Dr. Bell’s Family Centre; Nourish Scotland; Cupar Old Parish Church
EVENTS: A Fife Showcase for Community Growing Projects, 23 Sep; Wigtown Book Festival: Women’s History Walk, 26 Sep; Annual Conference, Nourish Scotland, 1 Oct; EVOLVE- Advice and support for social enterprises, 5 Oct
TENDERS: Catering Services at Palace Theatre/Grand Hall Complex and Dean Castle Visitor Centre; 3 Play Area Refurbishments in Fife; Production and development of Gaelic Music CDs/DVDs/CD-ROMS for 0-3 Years; Embedding a Process Excellence Culture Through Lean and Six Sigma Approaches

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: It seems early to be reminding people to book their place for this year’s Ceilidh but places are filling fast. 40 places (out of 120) remain available.  If you want to reserve your place, book now at, . There’s also been an encouraging number of applications for this year’s Dragons’ Den. Remember the deadline date is 14th October – so if you fancy taking your chances with the Dragons, apply here,  For more Networks News, see

Social Investment Scotland (SIS) had a double celebration this week. As well as marking their 10th anniversary, they also announced that Alastair Davies has now been formally appointed as SIS’ new CEO. Congratulations, Alastair. Over the last 10 years, SIS has given investment or loan finance to around 170 social enterprises and third sector orgs, amounting to circa £35m in total – £25m in repayable loans. This year, they have received a further £3m from Scottish Govt as well as £1m in recycled funds. See,

We mentioned a couple of weeks back that S2S is partnering with Voice to run a one-off joint event in March next year – Social Enterprise 2012. We hear now that CEiS has been appointed as the ‘preferred event management contractor’. Congratulations to them. We’re sure they’ll do their usual fine job. The Coalition and SE UK (formerly the English Coalition) are also looking to form a working group, drawing on skills and experience of members/ partners, to draw up a high quality programme – and, we hope, at prices that will not exclude frontline activists. See,

Triodos Bank has launched this year’s Social Vision photography competition – capturing the best photos of the work of social enterprises. Cash prizes include £500 for the winning photographer and £500 for the winning social enterprise. Winning photographs, together with regional short-listed pictures, will be used to compile their 2012 calendar, which Triodos will be offering to Senscot members free of charge.

This week’s bulletin profiles Firstport awardees, the Highland Perthshire Community Interest Company. Highland Perthshire CIC is run by and for local people and was set up to develop and maintain the economic benefits of major events within the local area. One of their better known events is the Enchanted Forest which attracts over 20,000 visitors every year and was, this week, named top Scottish event beating of competition from the Glasgow Film Festival and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. See press coverage and more on Highland Perthshire CIC,

A surprising entry from George Orwell’s diary – April 1945.

“Curious effect, here in a sanatorium, of hearing large numbers of upper-class English voices. I have been almost out of sound of them for two years, my ears growing more and more used to working class or lower middle class Scottish voices. In a hospital at Hairmyres, for instance, I literally never heard a ‘cultivated’ accent except when I had a visitor. It is as though I were hearing these voices for the first time. And what voices! A sort of over-fedness, a fatuous self-confidence, a constant bah-bahing of laughter about nothing, above all a sort of heaviness and richness combined with a fundamental ill-will – people who, one instinctively feels, without being able to see them, are the enemies of anything intelligent or sensitive or beautiful. No wonder everyone hates us so.”

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