Senscot Bulletin: 25.02.11

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Dear members and friends,

 I feel contempt for the tabloid newspapers – their hypocrisy – the poison they spread through society.  Today’s rant stems from a nasty, lazy piece in a redtop – about a family in a housing scheme accused of benefit fraud: The article invites us to despise all claimants.
 The people who bump along the bottom of our society live 10 years less than the rest of us; even from their faces you can tell that their life is of a harsher order than ours; their homes will be cold, maybe smelly.  Their children could be wild or cowed, sometimes dirty; these are the families ‘known’ to the school, social work, the police; with problems of addiction, violence, debt etc.  From the distance of tabloid nastiness, these ‘chaotic’ families are the source of all ills in our society – beyond help.  But of course the reality is different – close up we realise that none of us is much different from each other – just trying to get by as best we can – with what we’ve got – or not got.  In spite of the constant struggle for money, surprisingly few poor families are in free fall – even in our most deprived communities – only a few dozen in serious trouble.  I’m not suggesting its easy, but its certainly achievable – to get alongside them – one to one – build trust – help steady the boat.  The fact that we don’t do so has nothing to do with cost (it would save millions) – it’s a question of attitude; the tabloids pander to that part of us which is punitive to the poor – and that’s where we’re stuck.  Gandhi said that the difference between what we do, and what we are capable of doing, would suffice to solve most of the world problems.  I’m a bit wound up today.

Among the people I meet, a distinction can be drawn between those who expect the economy to return to how it was, ASAP – and those who realise that those days are gone – unsustainable; that we need to conserve our planet – share its finite resources more fairly.  For many of us, our involvement with social enterprise is an expression of a future world – where the drive for personal wealth is subordinate to the common good.  But our political parties are still dazzled by the fetish of economic growth – 4 flavours of vanilla on offer. Only the Greens have a narrative which reflects reality – which we’re not ready to hear yet. Like social business – they wait in the wings – exemplars with prophetic value.

Ever since the Tory manifesto pledge to train 5000 community organisers – I’ve been ready with a sneer to mock their botched attempt.  In the event, the appointment of Locality (the merged DTA and Bassac) to deliver the programme is a brilliant move; I can’t think of a better model for the ethos of Community Organising than the Development Trust Movement.  Steve Wyler, Locality’s CEO, has taken a calculated risk – to deliver a high profile govt. contract – so near his own launch.  We wish them well.

In the Thatcher and Major years (1979–96), the private sector share of services contracted out by Govt rose from 11% to 34% (the sharpest increase was in residential care of the elderly).  I recall a BBC2 documentary where businessman Gerry Robinson looked at the state of private care homes – genuinely outraged at the poor standards.  David Cameron spoke this week as though contracting out public services to the private or third sector was the same thing – but they could not be more different.  Profit maximisation and the care of the vulnerable are not compatible – almost opposites.

I can’t remember there being so much uncritical support for an unproven idea as there is for social impact bonds (SIBs).  Quite apart from the fact that I think they are unworkable – the third sector should not enter lightly into a culture of payment by results.  What needs doing – and what is measurable effective – will only rarely coincide.  This piece in Third Sector magazine gives a more balanced understanding of how shoogly SIBs are.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Cornerstone, Engender, Gay Men’s Health Scotland, Turning Point Scotland, Voluntary Action Fund, Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People Project, The Advocacy Project, Lendrick Lodge, Shelter Scotland
EVENTS: Telling Tales, 7 Mar; Choosing a Legal Structure, 8 Mar; Planning & Delivery workshop, 8 Mar; Women’s History Bring and Tell Workshop, 9 Mar; The F-Word DVD Screening, 9 Mar;
TENDERS: Dalgety Bay Town Centre Study; Garden Aid Grounds Maintenance Services; Framework Agreement for Replacement Kitchens and Bathrooms; Supply and delivery of groceries and provisions;

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: We’re now advertising for a new Network Development Officer to support the development and growth of Social Enterprise Networks across the country. As many of you will know, Anna leaves us at the end of March to embark on an exciting new venture in the Gambia. We have funding in place for this post until March 2012 and, obviously, hope to be in a position to extend this beyond then.
If you are interested in applying, please contact Karina for an application pack at
Closing date for applications: Monday 14th March 2011.
For more Networks News, see

Bookings are streaming in for this year’s ‘Fit for Purpose’ Health and Social Enterprise Conference. The event takes place on Friday 18th March at the Royal Society in George Street with the theme of ‘Prevention, Improvement and Innovation’ – it’s also FREE. Workshop presenters include Spartans, Princes` Royal Carers (Banff), HealthynHappy (Cambuslang), WHY (Edinburgh) and Think Research amongst others. See flyer, The day will be chaired by writer and broadcaster, Pennie Taylor. To book your place, see

The Scottish Social Enterprise Awards took place in Glasgow last night. There were four categories – and the winners were: Social Enterprise Start-up – Hebridean Chocolates; Social Enterprise Leader – Susan Aktemel (Impact Arts); Young People’s award – Stonelaw High Fair Traders; Social Enterprise of the year –  Golspie Recycling & Environmental Action Network (GREAN). Best of luck to the winners as they head to London for the UK finals. See the awards shortlist

A bulletin reader has asked us to mention a two week study programme in ‘people based development’ – to be held in Lucknow India – 28th March to 8th April.  Varda says the temperature reaches 45 degrees in June – but will be pleasant just now. Reasonably priced – wish I was younger.

A bulletin reader (Peter Koenig) from Switzerland, whom I know, specialises in helping people understand how they relate to money – and how to change the relationship (my own attitude is deeply ambivalent).  This short summary gives a taste.  Peter’s doing a workshop in London in April.  See,

Offering work experience can be a hassle – requiring time and patience; but it is also likely to be a life changing experience – a rite of passage for the youngsters involved. The third sector has been asked to provide 2000 young Scottish adults with a first taste of the workplace – with our social enterprise community specifically asked to help. The Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition has agreed to co-ordinate – will shortly publish a route map. Let’s show how generous and imaginative our movement is. The programme is due get under way in April. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise based in Fife but providing a Scotland-wide service. Scotiability was set up last year by Andrew Laker, in association with Brag Enterprises, to create a comprehensive database of disabled friendly facilities in Scotland and will promote and endorse any premises in Scotland that provides accessible facilities for the disabled community. In doing so, Scotiability staff will visit premises to record precisely the facilities available. See more,

I drove up to Falkland on Wednesday, for a shared supper and to hear Nigel Lowthrop speak about Hill Holt Wood – a truly inspiring social enterprise (packed house). We learned that the remuneration of HHW’s 33 staff is contained within a differential of 4:1 – Nigel made reference to the writings of Plato. “Around 400 BC, the Greek Philosopher, Plato, formulated principles for just and harmonious governance. These included the law of equality – whereby the authorities should set a basic level of subsistence – `the lot` – and that any citizen who acquires more than 4 times this amount must hand it over to the state.” Bankers please note. Here’s an extract from Plato’s Book of Laws. See,

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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