Senscot Bulletin: 24.08.12

Dear members and friends,

As a lad at school, we had sessions working in the gardens – learning how to wield a spade, a rake – basic skills. Some boys hated it, but I would volunteer – preferring the physicality to classroom work. A master once remarked that I could be depended on to get a job done – which, he said, would serve me well in life; this remembered incident was influential – it recognised an appetite and energy to shape the external world. The narrative of my life unfolded in projects – usually one a year – for 50 years; but rather than a sense of achievement, it feels profligate now; too much action – not enough reflection; nor do I trust what was driving all that activity.
 In the garden now at 6pm – the rain has stopped and the sun is strong – scent of lavender on the damp breeze. I’m reflecting on how we can measure success – in this short strange life we have; if not by external achievements – then how.  When (aged 50) Ray Carver was told he had lung cancer – he continued writing through his final months – including the lovely ‘Late Fragment’; this is the entire poem – which is inscribed on his gravestone: "And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? I did. And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth." In these few words, Ray nails it for me; to be able to say what he said – I’d settle for that now – as my lifetime achievement award.

Big Society Capital proposes that the third sector should tap into the vast wealth of capital markets’ but to do so, it says, it will need to change; most controversially by paying dividends to investors.  In England, the principle of this ‘marketisation’ seems to have been accepted – but in Scotland the situation is different – the debate is just getting underway.  Senscot takes the view that involving the City in social investment is a mistake – which could potentially damage the third sector – and should be resisted.  We have drafted a discussion paper which asks-: What are the parameters – moral and practical – of financial mechanisms which are acceptable to the third sector in Scotland. How can our community organise to create suitable products? See,

Following on from last week’s social investment roundtable, hosted by the Big Lottery, here’s a note of the points raised during the discussions. See,

Civil Society – the third sector along with churches, unions and other citizen bodies – has the right (and the responsibility) to contribute to the shape of our society.  Recent criticism from MSPs of SCVO – for its involvement with the Future of Scotland consortium – must be resisted.  Constitutional reform is too important to be trusted to the Punch and Judy of party politics.  Whether this or that political party likes the idea – there is growing evidence that a majority of Scots want a third option on ‘our’ ballot’ paper. If Scottish Civil Society has a collective view on this issue – it has every right to voice it – without fear or favour of political parties. See,

Apart from our Govt (local and central), the most influential spend on the Scottish third sector – is the £1m per week distributed by our Big Lottery Fund (BLF). BLF’s Scotland Committee – currently recruiting new members – is an important ‘shaper’ of the direction of our work. Senscot regards the third sector as a three legged stool; BLF may consider that the ‘social enterprise’ and ‘community sector’ voices in their group need strengthening. This is BLF’s own profile on what it’s looking for. See,

Some time ago, I heard John Swinney speak at Tulliallan – he was explicit; Community Planning Partnership (CPPs) are mechanisms to improve service delivery – not for empowering communities.  Why then, I ask, do CPPs feature so prominently in the Govt’s current consultation on its Community Empowerment Bill.  And what happened to Community Anchors – so prominent in the recent Regeneration Strategy? I enjoyed Kim McKee’s blog this week (St Andrews yooni) on this subject.

The UK National Citizens Service programme involves 16 and 17 year olds; – taking part in projects that include community work, a physical challenge and a residential placement.  Due to miscommunication between Scotland and the Cabinet Office – it seems unlikely that Scotland will participate.  With Serco the likely prime contractor to run the programme – not sure if this is bad or good news.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Outside the Box Development Support, Edinburgh University Students Association, Govan and Craigton Integration Network, Beith Community Development Officer, , Community Enterprise, Lifelink
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Flea Market, 25 Aug; Summer Celebration + SALE, 25 Aug; Energising Ideas for All, 28 Aug; Ready, Steady, Jewel, 31 Aug; Social Enterprise conference – East Lothian, 4 Sep
TENDERS: Construction Work for GHA, Home Furnishing Service in Stirling, International Creative Agency Services for Visit Scotland and ITT Supply & Installation of Furniture, Furnishings & White Goods. For more details, see 

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: We’re now taking bookings for this year’s Social Enterprise Conference and Ceilidh at New Lanark. The event will be taking place on 15th/16th November. This year – our 8th – we will be joined by 12 colleagues from the social enterprise community in Northern Ireland. We’re currently working on this year’s programme and will have a ‘draft’ available over the next couple of weeks. As there are now over 20 SENs, we’re putting a limit of 4 places per SEN – to begin with. We’re also reserving 20 places for intermediaries and other ‘friends’. To book your places, see  For more Networks News, see

Date for the diary: The Senscot Seminar and AGM will be held on Friday 5th October at City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow (10.30 – 2.30pm). Topic of this year’s Seminar will be ‘A Scottish Community Bank’. The event is free to full company members (individuals) with £20 charge for all others (i.e Associates, non-members etc). To reserve your place, see

Arms Length External Organisations (ALEOs) are increasingly being used by Local Authorities in Scotland as an alternative way of delivering services – from leisure, transportation, property development to, more recently, care services. There are now over 130 operating across the country. A number of these organisations consider themselves part of the social enterprise/third sector community. The SE Voluntary Code holds that a social enterprise cannot be a subsidiary of a public body. See,

CEiS’s September Conference is now sold out. However, we still have 5 ‘early bird’ places available for SEN members. The Conference is taking place on 5th Sept at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. Tickets for SEN members cost £95 + VAT. To book, contact . See programme,

Following last week’s bulletin piece on the Scottish Social Business Fund, this week’s bulletin profiles a new social business operating in Edinburgh City Centre. Social Bite sells sandwiches, baguettes, soups and salads through its shop in Rose Street as well as through its delivery service to local offices. They believe they can compete with others on quality, price and convenience, but as a social business,100% of their profits are donated to The Scottish Social Business Fund to tackle social problems. See more,

This extract is from a 1957 article by Leopold Kohr called Blue Cobblestones.

 "To sum up the reason for the success of old, and the failure of modern city planners in one paragraph: ancient planners, recognising the unchanging Aristotelian purpose of why people live in communities, put all their talent into the construction of the communal nucleus – inns, churches, city halls.  Their thoughts were not of symmetry or harmony – but simply of conviviality, religiosity, politics.  The rest of the city – residences, schools, factories, trade – followed by itself.  Modern planners are forever building the rest of the city.  But without nucleus nothing can be held together."

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