Senscot Bulletin: 24.01.14

Dear members and friends,

              I’ve always taken my coffee seriously –a bit like an Italian. Over the years I’ve experimented with dozens of coffee makers – a kind of hobby. I load my current ‘machinetta’ with 3 ‘shots’ of Lavazza fine ground Arabica beans; repeated daily at 7am and 11am – I’m an addict. Last weekend – during my 11am fix I become aware that my heart rhythm is abnormal – missing beats; this persists worryingly. I have long been aware that I drink too much strong coffee – now that feeling of deserved punishment. On Monday the doc confirms arrhythmia – gives me a line for an electrocardiograph – urges me to cease drinking coffee. Good – I think – a reason to stop.
Day one of abstinence is nothing dramatic – bit crabbit – drowsy. But when I awake on day 2 – I’ve lost the will to live. Headache, depressed, lethargic, aching limbs; work is impossible – can’t concentrate. By 2pm – 48 hours of ‘cold turkey’ – can’t take any more. Make small weak brew – gulp it down like a junkie – all symptoms subside. 
              It’s not clear to me at this point if I’m ready to say goodbye to coffee. I’ve already banished nicotine (30 years) and alcohol (12 years) from my world; in each case there came a point when the argument with myself simply ended; at a level deeper than conscious – my psyche made a pro-life decision – I feel fortunate. But the coffee ban has not yet sunk in; I’m interested to see what happens. Maybe later life is about giving up things – and things giving up.

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Regular readers will be aware – that ever since the launch of Big Society Capital – Senscot has opposed its core premise – that the third sector should be financed from profit seeking commercial investment. In our view the profit maximization route is a fundamental distortion of what our sector is for – and should be resisted. As a result of misreading our sector – which has little use for its products – BSC has invented a new term ‘social business’. This seems to apply to any private company which chooses to ‘social-good wash’ its image; i.e. impossible to regulate. The linked document from unLtd makes it clear that they too consider ‘for profit’ companies part of the sector they serve. This distortion came from the USA to England; we should try to prevent it coming to Scotland. Senscot holds to the position set out in ‘the Code’ – that a true SE is asset locked. See,

Last week, 16th/17th Jan, a major EU social enterprise conference took place in Strasbourg; 2,000 delegates – many actually from front-line enterprises – along with ‘high level’ people (their phrase). Several accounts on Google – we’ve linked to Dai Powell of HCT Group – a kent face – see,  Personally, I’m much encouraged by the Europe-wide drift of SE; the neo-liberals made a grab for it – but it’s settling into a sound ‘social economy’ value base. The Strasbourg Declaration is worth a look – much nearer our Scottish understanding of SE than that emerging from some English lobbyists. See, 

Against all her instincts – Lesley Riddoch has finally bought shares in a company; no – not Imperial Tobacco – but the Mull-based Garmony community hydro company. This is an inspiring piece about community-owned energy generation – and the potential of that sector to empower communities. Senscot’s bulletin describes a world of people and communities – who work at the front-line for a better, fairer and more sustainable Scotland. Mainstream journalists and political commentators don’t ‘get’ our world – leave it alone. Riddoch is the exception; both ‘gets’ and writes expertly about it – in the mainstream press. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Mellow Parenting, Community Food Initiatives West Lothian, Greener Kirkcaldy, Ullapool Community Trust, LGBT Health & Wellbeing, Good Morning Service, CEIS, Edinburgh Markets,
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 1 Feb; Bruncheon! feat songs of David Bowie, 8 Feb; Engaging Communities on Energy and Climate Change, 18 Feb; Facilitation Training, 19 Feb; Wiff Waff Wednesday, 19 Feb;
TENDERS: External Evaluator – Apps Guide Project, Graphic design services – University of the Highlands and Islands and Provision of Grounds Maintenance Services – Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Today is the deadline for submitting responses to Scottish Govt’s second stage consultation on the European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020.  Social Firms Scotland and Senscot have submitted a joint response – highlighting concern over the lack of specific reference to support for social enterprise and the social economy. Social Enterprise has been identified as an ‘investment priority’ for EU Structural Funds in the period 2014-20. This is a startling omission – and seems as odds with last week`s Strasbourg Declaration (see above) and, particularly, in view of Scottish Govt`s promotion of Scotland as a ‘world leader’ in its support and development of SE. See full response
For more SENs News, see

Last week’s piece about our ‘SE Map of Support’ has generated a lot of interest and we’d like to thank those who have responded pointing out potential ‘gaps’ – we’ll be looking to fill those ‘gaps’ as quickly as we can.  The Map is a ‘work in progress’ so all observations are welcome. See, Map of Support

The programme for the forthcoming 3rd SE and Sport Conference is taking shape. The event takes place on 18th March 2014 at the Emirates arena (Chris Hoy Velodrome) in Glasgow – with this year’s theme being “SE & Sport – Inspiring our Leaders”. As well as keynote speaker, Frank Dick , other contributors will include: Mel Young (Homeless World Cup) doing a plenary on “Power of Sport & Business”; Neil McLean (SE Academy) on “Are Leaders Born or Made?”; Gordon Merrilees (RBS) on “Balancing the books”. To book your place, see

Cultural and Glasgow SEN member, the Media Co-op sees the world premiere of their documentary film, ‘The Bridge Rising/An Drochaid’ at the Glasgow Film Festival. The event takes place on Sunday 26th Jan at the Glasgow Film Theatre and tells the story of the campaign against the tolls on the Skye Bridge: with the islanders taking on the UK Govt and the Bank of America – and winning. For details, see

Someone has coined the phrase ‘social hacking’ and I enjoyed this piece exploring what it might mean. Broadly, SE should not be responding to systems which don’t work – but replacing them: I like this bit: “It’s also about rethinking scale and re-visiting replication. Systems that put a premium on scale value control so the maximum amount of power and wealth flow to the few at the centre. Replication values solutions that others can copy and adapt so power and wealth are distributed more evenly to many”.

This week’s bulletin profiles a member of both DTA Scotland and the Sport SEN that is delivering a range of initiatives to improve the mental and physical fitness of the local community in Beith, Ayrshire. Beith Community Development Trust (BCDT) was established following a coming together of local sports clubs to discuss the lack of suitable facilities and venues within the town. In 2012, BCDT took over the management of a full-size grass pitch, the Beith Astro 3G pitch, changing pavilions, and office space. Today, they provide facilities and activities across the local community, including recycling/re-use; sports; creative activities; a credit union as well as SQA qualifications. For more see,

Thomas Paine wrote the ‘Rights of Man’ in 1791, in defence of the French Revolution. This well-known passage remains a telling argument for the importance of local participatory democracy.

“It appears to general observation, that revolutions create genius and talent; but those events do no more than bring them forward. There is existing in people, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which unless something excites it to action, will descend with them, in that condition, to the grave. As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its facilities should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by quiet regular operation, all that capacity which never fails to appear in revolution.”

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