Senscot Bulletin: 23.10.15

Dear members and friends,


From the 1970s, until he died in 1994, I read everything by the poet Charles Bukowski; it was a time, particularly the 1980s, when our dissident spirits chimed. Buke’s poems are simply stories from his life; getting drunk, crap jobs, sex, skid row hotels, the racetrack etc. In some 40 books of prose and poetry – he wrote himself into a kind of mythic character; a drinking, gambling, roughneck brawler. But there are also tales of grace and pathos. The line between the invented and real Bukowski becomes blurred – but fans don’t mind this. He avoids what we understand as ‘politics’ – and can seem uncouth – but we never doubt that this is an original and radical voice; a champion of the poor and downtrodden – from having been there himself.


Browsing in Waterstone’s recently, I’m astonished to realise that Bukowski takes up the largest slot in the poetry section – what’s going on? Google informs that since 2002, Harper Collins has owned the publication rights; it seems that ‘since my time’ the appetite among the young for subversive poetry has grown – and around the world Buke is now a hot property. Harper Collins is owned by Rupert Murdoch! It makes me smile that he should be the agent of a Bukowski revival. A couple of years before he died – Buke wrote this to a friend: “I always write with the music and good bottle of red; the whirling of the smoke, the banging of the typer, the music. What a way to laugh in the face of death. Yes”.


I paid particular attention to the TV coverage of the SNP Conference – not with any hostility but to observe whether ordinary SNP members can influence policy; I was impressed. As I suggested myself last week, the Land Reform Bill was watered down – which was exactly what conference told the leadership – remitting it back for revision. Other ‘difficult’ subjects like fracking were also aired. Nicola Sturgeon, for whom I have the highest regard, seemed tired – flat. It occurred to me how much she carries personally on behalf of Scotland; hope she gets enough good time for herself. Good to see her happily in the crowd at the rugby – though that turned out to be a real sair one.


Senscot’s position on social investment is that the products on offer are mostly designed for the benefit of lenders – so very little business is done where it matters; the banks can’t grasp that the third sector is not for profit. Amongst the few UK practitioners with whom we engage are Helen Heap and Robbie Davison – developers of the Builder Capital Model of SI. Here they summarise the conclusions they draw from analysing the EngagedX data on over 400 social investment loans between 2002-2014.


Last week a report surfaced called Holyrood Exposed – it was from Spinwatch et al – calling for more transparency in the lobbying of our parliament. The Sunday Herald reported an angry reaction from John Downie of SCVO – saying that we don’t need London-centric lobbyists telling us how Scottish democracy should be run. The practice of money buying political influence undermines our democracy and should be tightly regulated. Proposals for a Lobbying and Transparency Bill are before our parliament; lobbyists are trying to weaken it.


Good piece in the Huffington Post pointing out that people who receive benefits also pay tax – and the intent of the current Govt to pitch people against each other is dishonourable. When they refer disparagingly to people in receipt of benefits – they mean me, a pensioner who also pays income tax, VAT, community tax, petrol tax etc. And two thirds of tax credit recipients have a job. Good piece.


A taskforce of experts has produced a longlist of 10 major low carbon infrastructure projects – required for Scotland to meet its 2050 environmental commitments. Scotland’s Way Ahead – led by WWF Scotland – wants public feedback to inform the eventual shortlist. I found the longlist exciting – particularly around local energy generation, storage and distribution.


Particularly in England – the campaign continues, to extend the definition of social enterprise beyond the not for profit third sector. Some want to include: “Share companies in which social purpose is primary and profit is secondary” Apart from the principle, there are obvious difficulties with the regulation of ‘hybrid’ enterprises. More next week on this report from lawyers Bates Wells Braithwaite.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Crossreach, Dundee SEN, Local Energy Action Plan, Reeltime Music, City of Edinburgh Council, Dumbarton Road Corridor Environment Trust, Social Investment Scotland
EVENTS: EU Funds Masterclass: Borders, 30 Oct; Coalfields Community Challenge, 6 Nov; Social Entrepreneurs Chat Show, 18 Nov; Social Finance: Social Investment: Social Banking – What makes them Social, 19 Nov;
TENDERS: National Third Sector Fund – Skills Development Scotland, Families First Core Team Model – Independent Sector Partnership – Renfrewshire Council, Provision of Digital Design Services – Glasgow Caledonian University and more. 
Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Bookings for this year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh are now over the 100 mark – with space limited to another 20 folk. Our programme is more or less finalised with applications for this year’s Dragons’ Den about to close. As always, £5k prize money will be available to the winner – and we will also be crowdfunding the audience prize. This year’s programme includes regular sessions such as The Big Question and the Dragons’ Den – as well as sessions on Scotland’s Vision of SE 2025; SCRT; EU Funding update; Crowdsourcing ideas for Fairer Scotland consultation; SE Showcase; and a SE World Café session. See Full Programme. The event takes place at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld, on 12th/13th Nov. To book your place, see bookings.


I enjoyed this comment piece by Christopher Silver in Bella Caledonia; like all of us, he is trying to calculate whether SNP’s new burgeoning membership will be a radical influence – or not. It’s a party in development – and quite rightly so. He concludes, like myself, that the SNP’s instinctive desire to centralise is a recurring weakness. The average Scottish local authority contains 165,000 citizens – compared to around 5,000 across the EU; he considers this one of the most glaring anomalies in how our country is governed.


Community Enterprise is looking for feedback on their plans to establish a Third Sector Enterprise Hub in West Lothian. Their key objectives will be to offer affordable quality accommodation to third sector organisations, social enterprises and social entrepreneurs and, at the same time, encourage innovation and joint working. They have put together this short survey and would appreciate if folk could take a few moments to fill it in.


SCRT’s first Conference – 19th Nov at the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh – looks at ‘Social Finance: Social Investment: Social Banking – what makes them Social?’. Places are now filling up so now’s the time to book. For details on speakers and to book your place, see here. Here’s some recent news coverage.


This week’s bulletin profiles an enterprise in the City of Dundee – and a member of DSEN – whose roots go back to the 19th century, in what was originally Royal Dundee Blindcraft Products. Today, operating as Dovetail Enterprises since 1993, it is split into three divisions; Dovetail Design, Dovetail Doors and Dovetail Retail which between them provide contract furniture, high quality bespoke furniture, bespoke doors, complete room refits and Blindcraft beds and mattresses for contract and retail clients right across the U.K. Dovetail still adheres to its original mission – to provide sustainable and worthwhile employment for people affected by disability, visual impairment or blindness


Someone has pointed that this is the 800th bulletin – which means 16 years x 50. This is only possible when a team are working with enjoyment – and we celebrate with a Bukowski poem – ‘So You Want To Be A Writer’.


“If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. Unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it. If you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don’t do it. If you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it. If you’re doing it because you want women in your bed, don’t do it. If you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don’t do it. If it’s hard work just thinking about doing it, don’t do it. If you’re trying to write like somebody else, forget about it……..  when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you. There is no other way. And there never was”.


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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