Senscot Bulletin: 24.06.11

Dear members and friends,

Most people seem to believe that our lives follow a set path – which is in some way ‘meant’.  Some call it God’s will – or karma – or fate – or astrology; Many believe that someone is watching over them from above. There is clearly a powerful human need to feel under the protection of some benevolent force – but this doesn’t mean it’s true.  I admire Spanish poet Antonio Machado’s fearless clarity, "Wayfarer – there is no path – except the one your footsteps make as you go". He is saying that responsibility for what happens to us, lies not with our stars, but with ourselves; that there is no ‘meant’.
 The recent winds brought down some trees in our wood – for the past week a mason has been rebuilding a collapsed section of the old wall across from my house.  Gerry and I get chatting – when he realises how keen I am he agrees to give me a shot ‘on the tools’ – to show me the ropes. Together we mix lime mortar – as I search the pile carefully for the right stone Gerry says, "Choose one and make it fit".  This simple phrase strikes me as incredibly profound – a philosophy for life.  This is a man after my own heart – who believes we shape our own destiny.
 On our lunch break, Gerry chats, with obvious affection, about his partner Liz – a staff nurse – and her 11 year old boy – whom he takes fishing; how this is his second attempt at family life.  I ask what happened the first time – "we were a bad match" he says.  I smile – "what about ‘choose one and make it fit’?"  But he just shrugs: "It wasn’t meant".

The delivery of public services on ‘payment by results’ contracts will quickly lead to the exclusion of those citizens most difficult to work with – it’s simple economics.  Mechanisms like Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) have the smell of money about them – rich pickings for ‘the suits’ of the poverty industry.  We should look carefully at who is behind the very effective lobby for SIBs – and why.  Ronald Cohen, the city financier, wants the new Big Society Bank to commit £250m to kick start this ‘market’ – which he envisages as a new ‘asset class’, potentially worth billions.  Is this where we really want to go? Geoff Mulgan, in the attached presentation, begins to critique what lies behind the rhetoric of SIBs.  He suggests a parallel with PFI – that vast and unnecessary waste of public money.

The English Social Enterprise Coalition has announced that it is in the process of rebranding – its survey informs that one of the names under consideration is ‘Social Enterprise UK’.  Social enterprise, however, is essentially a devolved matter. Whilst it is important that our social enterprise community always works/collaborates closely with our neighbours – the English Coalition should think twice before implying that it represents Scotland.  Apart from being legally separate – our perspective is often quite different.

Tomorrow (Saturday), I’ll be in London – with around 1000 others – for a national conference hosted by Compass.  It’s called ‘Building the Good Society’, a gathering of leading pressure groups and think tanks on the democratic left.  I’m curious how the battle lines are being redrawn in UK politics.  A Saturday conference – I must be keen.

The Big Lottery in England has announced this week that it has begun spending its dormant accounts money on a special fund to develop their national network of social investment retailers.  This, of course, raises the mystery (once again) of Scotland’s dormant accounts money. When, how, for what?  This halting, secretive process has not reflected well on Scottish Govt.

The consensus here at Senscot is that we should start twittering – in order that followers can feedback comment.  So I’m learning how to tweet – may grow to enjoy it.  To follow Senscot click here.!/Senscot

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: The Place2Be; Social Enterprise Academy; Migrants Support Services; Aspire2gether; Kinetic; Caledonia Youth; Highland Hospice; Cranstoun Community Development Project;
EVENTS: SQA Introduction to BSL class, 29 Jun; Involving service users in evaluation, 30 Jun; Phenomenal Woman, 20 Jun; HR workshop- Hints and tips when recruiting your first employee, 19 Jul;
TENDERS: Community Bakery Feasibility Study; Potential for Renewable Local Energy Generation in the Stirling Council area; Supply and Delivery of Printing and Design Services, Incorporating High Volume Copying; Supply & Distribution of Fresh Fruit & Vegetables

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Networks 1st ventured into new territory this week with a visit to Orkney. We were invited up, with the assistance of HIE, to explore with local social enterprises the possibility of establishing their own Orkney Social Enterprise Network. Those involved identified a number of areas of real potential for joint working – i.e. procurement and sharing service and have agreed to meet again after the holiday period. Attendees included, amongst others, The Pier Arts Centre ( ); Orkney Community Transport ( ); and The Pickaquoy Centre ( ). For more Networks News, see

Good news from our friends at Media Co-op. The Glasgow-based film production company has won NHS Scotland preferred bidder status. Media Co-op’s Louise Scott tells us,  "After going head-to-head with 120 commercial production companies from all over the UK, we’re very proud that the NHS chose Media Co-op as one of their three preferred suppliers. We’re the only social enterprise to make it through NHS Scotland’s highly competitive selection process". See,

Senscot couldn’t attend this week’s Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition AGM at the Trades Hall in Glasgow. However, we hear the event went well and attracted a good turnout. New names for this year’s Board include Susan Aktemel (Impact Arts); Alasdair Nicholson (Hebridean Chocolate); and Malcolm McCardle (Alloa Community Enterprise). All three come from well-known social enterprises and their front-line experience will be an undoubted asset for our Coalition. 

I downloaded Ed Miliband’s recent speech and read it through – hoping to discern some coherent political philosophy.  He wants pay differentials between the highest and lowest to be discussed and justified.  Good.  He also wants to link state benefits – including social housing – to what individual citizens contribute to society.  This is more difficult.  What Rowan Williams calls – "The quiet resurgence of the seductive language of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor."

I believe that community owned ‘anchor’ organisations like Development Trusts – Housing Associations etc are the prerequisite of successful local empowerment. For the more academic of our readers – here’s a review of research into the community anchors’ approach. See,

A number of folk have responded to our call last week for updated profiles. One of these is Parkhead Citizens Advice Bureau, first profiled in Nov 2005. Parkhead CAB is, like other Citizen Advice Bureaus, an independent organisation responsible for generating its own income. It does so through a combination of contracts, trading and grants. Last year, it generated over £300k, dealing with over 8,000 issues and securing almost £1.5m in benefits and other financial gains for local residents. We’ll feature other revised profiles over the coming weeks. See,

Around 1000 years BC – King David ruled Israel for 40 years.  According to Jewish tradition, he not only defeated Goliath – but wrote the psalms – some of the most sublime poetry the world knows. He must have been some guy. 
Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.  He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long."

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