Senscot Bulletin: 25-01-08

Dear members and friends,

I’m off on Sunday to Spoleto – to help my sister put the final touches to her new flat. Evenings will be cold – but with luck our days will be bright sunshine – and the eating round there is `fantastico` ( the local pasta is called strongozzi – served with a tangy tomato sauce). Bulletin next week from Umbria. Spoleto is near Assisi and these are the very roads walked joyfully by Francis and his happy band – calling all living things sister and brother.
 One of the improvements which age has brought to my life is the better appreciation of nature. I notice that sometimes, when I’m pottering in the garden, a passing stranger will smile approval – as if gardening is somehow virtuous – some ancient affinity between `soil and the soul`. Negotiating an important deal on the phone recently, when a strange, speckled bird arrives at the feeder – and suddenly – to know this bird felt more important than the deal. Frequent indications that the affairs of the world recede – in favour of natural events – like the arrival, this week, of snowdrops.
 Today is the birthday of Robert Burns – whose empathy for the inner dignity of things (the panic of a fieldmouse) often reminds me of our wee brother from Assisi. `A man’s a man for a` that`, raises `honest poverty` above the `tinsel` of rank and wealth – and remains one of the world’s great calls to international brotherhood. “Then let us pray that come it may, and come it will for a` that. That man to man the world over, will brothers be for a` that.” Happy Birthday Rabbie – nobody said it better than you. Alex Salmond`s Burns Day message
Some readers aren’t always interested in the whole bulletin – but please read this appeal for donations.

On 7 January, Jim Mather, Minister for Enterprise, hosted a seminar for over 60 Third Sector leaders. “If the Third Sector is 25% of the Finnish Economy,” he asked “why in Scotland is it only4% – what’s holding us back?” The attached extract lists 43 ‘barriers to growth’ identified by attendees – a fascinating snapshot of how we see ourselves – (only 18 strengths and assets). Not surprisingly the main complaint is about the time wasted chasing money. There is an overeliance on Government funding which is too bureaucratic and former ‘alternatives’ like ESF and the Lottery are becoming subsumed into the same ‘command and control’ centralism. It is not in the best interests of society that the citizen realm becomes an extension of Government. We need a radical look at how to fund our Third Sector so that it can grow five fold yet remain distinct from the state.

It seems a long time since we all started debating what should be done with the money from the unclaimed bank accounts. At least it is now established that the Scottish Government will decide where the money is allocated up here – but they should not do this without wide consultation. Speaking personally, I have heard no better idea than that of Ronald Cohen – for a Social Investment Bank. It makes sense to use a windfall to capitalise a sustainable institution which will continue to invest in social enterprise long into the future.

Good article in the current issue of the Economist about social entrepreneurs – more than just fluff, this piece raises some interesting issues. “In the early days, social entrepreneurs saw themselves as an alternative to business and government. Today they aspire to be partners, seeing business and government as assets to be leveraged.” For more, see

Senscot`s annual appeal for donations is more pressing this year because the bulletin has no funding. Any support you can give would be much appreciated. Link for details

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: 15 vacancies, incl. posts with: Pilotlight Scotland, Big Lottery Fund, Project Ability, Nisus Scotland, Space Unlimited, The Big Issue Cymru
EVENTS: 16 events, incl Getting down to business, 7 Feb, Edinburgh; Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid, 21 Feb, Fife; Mental Health Awareness, 15 Mar, Kirkcaldy; More than Recycling 08, 11 Mar, Perth

Voice 08 is being held next month in Liverpool. The Third Sector Division (Scottish Government) is supporting Senscot`s request to sponsor some places for Local Social Enterprise Network (LSEN) members.  If you’re interested in attending, contact Colin –  See Colin’s weekly report for more info`,
Two of the UK`s leading social entrepreneurs are on the move. Liam Black, who has spent over three years establishing Jamie Oliver’s `Fifteen Foundation`, is to part company with the TV chef – but there’s no suggestion of a falling out. Liam intends to have rest then, in time, set up a new business.
Nick Baxter, who founded `Cornerstone` 28 years ago, is to hand over the reins to Edel Harris – currently number two at Aberdeen Foyer. Nick will also take a break and then look at his options.
Many in our sector will look forward with interest to these two `comebacks`.

Two new books worth checking out: “The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets and Change the World.” (Pamela Hartigan and John Ellington). Also, “Creating a World without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism” (Muhammad Yunus and Karl Weber). Both these books advocate adaptations of capitalism.

Has your organisation done a Social Return on Investment (SROI)? If so, Kevin Robbie, in his new role at the Office of the Third Sector in London, would like to hear from you. Kevin sends us this –

This week’s bulletin profiles a member of the Clackmannanshire Social Enterprise Network and one of the stable of businesses operating out of Kilncraigs in Alloa. The Clackmannanshire Tourism Association (CTA) was set up in 2002 to promote Clackmannan as both a tourist and retail destination. Membership of the Association entitles local businesses to a range of services that are designed to generate greater trading opportunities. CTA also promotes a series of outdoor activities that also attract new business to the area. For more, see

Following my `outbreak of optimism` last week – reader David Cook sends this powerful quote from a Professor David Landes` book, `The Wealth and Poverty of Nations`.

“In this world, the optimists have it, not because they are always right, but because they are positive. Even when wrong, they are positive, and that is the way of achievement, correction, improvement and success. Educated, eyes open optimism pays, pessimism can only offer empty consolation of being right.
 The one lesson that emerges is the need to keep trying. No miracles. No perfection. No millennium. No apocalypse. We must cultivate a sceptical faith, avoid dogma, listen and watch well, try to clarify and define ends, the better to choose means.”

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

Best wishes,

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