Senscot Bulletin: 24.10.08

Dear members and friends,

Charles Leadbeater, writing in the Spectator this week says: ‘‘I’m old enough to have lived through several anxiety-inducing downturns but I cannot recall ever before feeling scared, planning to grow vegetables in our garden or escape with my family to Greece to run a B&B’’.  This kind of reaction is not uncommon these days – talk of downsizing and fresh starts. The fear of unemployment is all around; no job – no rent; if we lose the house – everything unravels; how much worse for families with kids. It’s scary.
 But as well as fear, there’s another mood in the air – a shift in the collective unconscious of our people. It’s the realisation that money has become too important – that our true wellbeing comes from things which can’t be bought; the family and friends that share our lives; our membership of community; mental and physical health; the joy of good work. If capitalism is to survive as our economic system, it will need to behave more responsibly – take care of us all – not just a self-serving minority.  Those who said greed is good were wrong.
 The wee pile of soul books beside my bed is topped by my favourite: Lao Tsu’s ‘Dao Te Ching’: “Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about other people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work and then step back – the only path to serenity.’

Tony Blume, CEO of England’s Urban Forum, said last week: “If central government regards the Third Sector as simply a sub-set of local government policy, then community and voluntary groups are only ever going to be a marginal issue”. In Scotland, we live with this same top down thinking. Our government has charged COSLA to come up with proposals on how citizens should be ‘empowered’. But the government and COSLA are ‘the State’, which we elect and fund. Those of us who comprise Scotland’s community sector need to get together to remind ourselves that we are already ‘empowered’ – and that we can decide for ourselves how to organise to exercise that power. We need to give new voice to the realm of the citizen. The Local People Leading campaign is trying to do this.

Since reading ‘the rise of the social entrepreneur’ over a decade ago, I’ve kept in touch with Charles Leadbeater’s prescient thinking and commentary. Interesting essay this week on the global search for a new kind of capitalism: “In all likelihood we will get a mix of subdued capitalism, social capitalism and ugly capitalism, even within the same cities…This will be the first real test of the strength of the social enterprise movement that was in its infancy during the last recession.’

Scotland has an impressive network of mutuals, credit unions etc – embedded in our poor communities – quietly lending money ‘below the waterline’ to folk the banks won’t touch. There is huge potential for this activity – the skills and experience already in place – to form the bedrock of a new banking practice much closer to what the people of Scotland want. “Capitalism with the hard bitten edge of social justice”. This Herald interview with Eunice Lancaster of Developing Strathclyde Ltd (DSL), beautifully captures the egalitarian socialist tradition of Clydeside which still informs the Scottish psyche – I found it moving.

CCLA is one of the core sponsors of Senscot`s revamped website. Its only business is looking after money for charities, community and faith-based organisations, housing associations, and social enterprises.  The majority of their clients just want a better interest rate on their short term cash, but CCLA also has the widest range of longer term investments products designed explicitly for the third sector. Being owned entirely by their clients with no external shareholders means that CCLA is also uniquely placed to help and support the not-for-profit sector, and they now invest money for more charities than any other fund manager in the UK. For more, see

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 
JOBS: incl. posts with: ARK Housing Association Ltd., Midlothian Advice and Resource Centre, Camphill Blairdrummond, Renfrewshire CVS, Edinburgh Community Backgreens Association
EVENTS: Climate Change: Effective Communication, 23 Oct, Edinburgh; Facilitation Training Day, 23 Oct, Edinburgh; Health & Wellbeing Fair, 1 Nov, Aberdeen; Compassionate Living Fayre, 8 Nov, Edinburgh

NETWORKS 1st News:  Places at this year’s Social Enterprise Ceilidh are filling up fast, so if you’ve got it in your diary but not booked yet, take a moment now and fill in your booking form or you might miss out. There’s a maximum 120 places at the event, which gathers some of Scotland’s best known social entrepreneurs and welcomes newer faces in a packed programme, including Questions Time, An Audience With …. and of course the Dragon’s Den (which is now full).  For more NETWORKS News, see

Congratulations to everyone at CEiS and the Wise Group who have received ‘Enterprising Solutions’ Social Enterprise of the year awards.  Scotland is proud of you.

Community Land Trusts (CCT’s) are an effective way of ensuring that any community can retain a permanent stock of affordable housing. Houses are sold under market value but must be sold back to the trust. Any enhanced value is shared. I have a strong sense that the CCT model could become a powerful force in Scotland. Speaking at Salford University recently, a visiting expert, John Emmeus Davis shared his experience.

Community Energy Scotland (CES) launched its new website this week. Formerly operating as the Highlands and Islands Community Energy Company (HICEC), CES is now Scotland-wide and has been set up to help communities to develop and manage their own renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
For more, see

Social Firms Scotland (SFS) is setting up a pioneering project around business acquisition that could offer an alternative route to developing new Social Firms. Their `Acquiring Business for Good` project will run over the next 3 years, supported by the Lottery, and will support people excluded from the labour market into employment, by acquiring businesses and converting them to Social Firms. SFS is currently recruiting for a Project Coordinator. See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles a seasonal initiative now in its third year – the Caring Christmas Trees Appeal. Set up by Bethany Christian Trust back in 2005, the appeal will be bigger than ever this year as the result of a new partnership that includes Kibble (Paisley), Impact Arts (Glasgow), Gowrie Care (Tayside) and, of course, Bethany itself. By buying your tree on-line from one of the above organisations, you will be directly helping to support their work with some of the most disadvantaged members of our communities. For more, see

Jung taught that only by consciously assenting to our inner voice (our unconscious) can we find wholeness – our individual `self`. He saw this as a `spiritual` process bringing a sense of calm acceptance and detachment.

  “If the unconscious can be recognised as a co-determining factor along with consciousness, and if we can live in such a way that conscious and unconscious demands are taken into account as far as possible, then the centre of gravity of the total personality shifts its position. It is then no longer in the ego, which is merely the centre of consciousness, but in the hypothetical point between conscious and unconscious. This new centre might be called the self”.

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,

To receive this bulletin directly, you can sign up here: