Senscot Bulletin: 25-11-2005


Dear members and friends,

Recent flurry of activity – articles, talks, interviews, much action – little reaction.  So much of this public stuff is more ‘show biz’ than substance. By contrast, I am currently engrossed in a ‘real’ project – constructing a 200 metre woodland path.  We’ve had a spell of these marvellous bright frosty days which countries with olives and grapes don’t get.  Nature is in some fundamental way important to the human psyche – connecting to its grandeur we become small – and small is beautiful.
One of the recent interviews I gave has been published with this observation: ‘Demarco’s own career is unremarkable and shows few of the signs which he details as characteristics used when marking out a social entrepreneur.’  When my time comes I hope the obituary is a bit kinder than that – but there’s no hurry.
Funeral today (Friday) of my kinsman Victor Crolla who founded Valvona & Crolla the Edinburgh deli in Elm Row.  When my business was floundering in the 1960s he came to see me – steadied the ship.  He asked only that I didn’t talk about his help and that in the future I would be open to helping others.  In spite of his stream of patter to patrons in his shop, Victor was a shy man – latterly reclusive.  I wish I’d seen more of him to tell him how he touched my life – when I was discouraged.

No group has more influence on UK Regeneration policy than Lord Rogers Urban Task Force.  Wednesday’s Guardian leader gave an overview of its new report ( One of its findings is that there are ‘way too many’ overlapping regeneration organisations, which should be culled into fewer bigger ones.  In Scotland Jack Perry CEO of Scottish Enterprise is proposing to ‘streamline’ the number of local enterprise companies (LECs) by merging some of the 12 local boards.  We seem to be moving into a centralising phase.  Speaking in Glasgow recently Barbara Phillips, who set up the DTIs Social Enterprise Unit, talked about the ‘clutter and confusion’ of statutory and voluntary intermediary bodies supporting social enterprise.  The reviews underway at both Scottish Enterprise and Communities Scotland provide a unique opportunity to sort this out.  Rationalising and centralising services has obvious advantages but the downside is the loss of local control.  The challenge is getting the balance right.  My personal bias is towards local delivery and control with national monitoring and evaluation.

Over the years I’ve found the management of the National Lottery distributors to be remote and autocratic, particularly the London lot.  It’s a huge encouragement to read on Tuesday the new manifesto from The Scottish Big Lottery Fund which is fresh and bold and focused.  I’m particularly excited by the 3 year £50 million programme ‘to invest in growing community assets,’ which will try to replicate the success of the Scottish Land Fund in urban communities.  This document is a ‘must read’ for our sector.  There is £275 million available for Scotland before April 2009 (£1.78m per week) and by my reading most of the outcomes they seek could be achieved through social enterprises.

The Social Enterprise Ceilidh, hosted by Senscot at New Lanark last Friday, was a spectacular success. The 9 Local Social Enterprise Networks which Colin helps to animate, came together for the first time – 105 people, 90% of them from 43 social enterprises. The various bits – speed trading; dragon’s den; workshops, all contributed to a real buzz, with the evening ‘knees up’ the ‘main event’. The feedback has been glowing and the sponsors –RBS and Communities Scotland – are well pleased. Strong pressure to make this an annual event.

NOTICES/EXCHANGE: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice sent but please any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 78 vacancies, incl. posts with: Drumchapel Opportunities, Benarty Cares, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Carluke Development Trust, Albion Trust, Parent Network Scotland (Consultancy brief).

EVENTS:  Communities Scotland, Finance Hub event, Glasgow, December 14.

Consultation: The Glasgow Social Economy Partnership (GSEP) Strategy – Consultation Draft has just been issued and responses are invited. See

This week’s Feedback File asks about the recruitment/support for Boards of social enterprises. A number of organisations have approached Senscot recently on this issue. Not only does it appear to be difficult to recruit new people to join Boards but also to get the right balance of different skills. Another related issue is training/support for Boards, particularly those making the transition to a more trading dependent set up.

Last week, we mentioned the recently established UK Financial Inclusion Forum. Eoghan Howard forwards their latest Newsletter – it further reinforces the argument that financial inclusion initiatives need to work much more closely with all community sector support agencies on the ground to achieve even greater impact amongst the most vulnerable & hard to reach groups.

In recognition of the DTIs Social Enterprise week The Observer last Sunday published a special 8 page supplement which is the best bit of national media coverage our sector has had.  Picked out 3 bits for your perusal; a general political overview from Nick Mathiason and profiles of two social enterprises which I would love to visit,  Daily Bread and New Life Regeneration Construction.. Our own Alf Young did a great piece in last Friday’s Herald.

On 6th December, East Lothian will host its first Local Social Enterprise Network at the Maitlandfield Hotel in Haddington at 5.30pm ( This will follow a social enterprise event at Musselburgh Racecourse on 30th November. (see These developments have arisen as a result of a mapping exercise of the sector carried out by Haldane Associates on behalf of the East Lothian Social Economy Partnership. For more info’, contact or

This week’s bulletin profiles Scotland’s second CIC (Community Interest Company), Bookdonors, based near Galashiels. Set up by Lawrie Hayworth and Rona Strathdee, it provides a new funding channel for not-for-profit organisations and small charities by selling donated books over the internet. Participating organisations receive 25% of donated books sold. Longer-term plans include establishing a ‘Free books for all’ scheme and offering the opportunity of home-based employment. Bookdonors has been operating since spring 2005 and has already been commissioned by Borders Library Services, Borders General Hospital Library and Lanarkshire Cancer Care Trust amongst others. For info’, see

‘Going without Saying’ by Bernard O’Donoghue:
It’s a great pity we don’t know when the dead are going to die so that, over a last companiable drink, we could tell them how much we liked them. Happy the man who, dying, can place his hand on his heart and say, ‘At least I didn’t neglect to tell the thrush how beautifully she sings.’

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

Best wishes,

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