Senscot Bulletin 26-03-2004

221, FRIDAY 26th MARCH 2004


Dear members and friends,


Whenever I meet a celebrity I lose my cool – over react –
either sullen or starstruck.  Through a
mutual friend I got an appointment in London with a renowned guru of social
policy, whose stuff I have long admired. 
He eventually stops fiddling with papers – looks gravely over my left
shoulder – says – for openers, “What single thing do you most regret about your
life?” I just thought, “What a plonker!” 
If he hadn’t kept me waiting for twenty minutes I might have played his
wee game – but I was angry.  “You don’t
know me well enough to ask me that,” I said. 
We decided that we didn’t like each other – an opportunity lost. 

Two weeks ago I was telling a pal
how much I admired Lesley Riddoch’s radio work.  “Would you like to meet her?” she asked.  “Wow!” I said, “I’d love to.”  Last Friday I watched her lunch-time radio
show from the production suite at the BBC, Holyrood Road.  Cameras don’t flatter Lesley – ‘cos in the
flesh she’s like a film star.  Meeting
her I suddenly came over all starstuck – jabbered on for ten minutes – a lot of
rubbish – what a cringe.  Making a fool
of yourself isn’t so painful in your 60s – but a missed opportunity.  Meant to ask her to speak at Senscot’s AGM –
lost my nerve.  I’ve mentioned this celeb problem in a previous

.  Wish I understood it better.



In the foreward to the recent GEM report from the Hunter
Centre for Entrepreneurship – Tom Hunter writes, “45% more Scots said that they
were currently trying to start a social enterprise than said they were trying
to start a business.  This represents an
important social phenomenon and a potentially powerful force for good in
Scottish society.”  The chapter about
social entrepreneurs calls for more support and ends, “Given the many public
sector interests in Scotland, it may take private sector venture philanthropy
to achieve this.”  These two comments
summarise succinctly the dynamic of our sector in Scotland: social enterprise
bubbling up from our communities – whilst being resisted by ‘public sector
interests’. (



Tom Hunter also writes “on funding businesses, the gap now
is at the small end of the funding market, around £10,000 with an upper limit
of £20,000.”  This is precisely the same
conclusion reached by the recent McKinsey study of the funding market for
social enterprises in the UK.  (  This is now a central issue – should
investment in the social economy prioritise the top end – the large national
social enterprises or should we invest in the grass roots – the future.  Government policy seems to be led by Gordon
Brown’s Treasury, intent on enticing voluntary organisations to become partners
on public service delivery.  The
Scottish Executive has made it perfectly clear that this is the main thrust of
their long awaited Action Plan.  But
Senscot has been arguing that the social fabric of our communities is woven
together by a priceless collection of wee groups – play buses – arts –
transport – recycling projects – youth – lunch clubs etc.  It’s here at the neighbourhood – even street
level – that volunteer citizens make it all happen.  This is where new social entrepreneurs come from – where our
future social enterprises will be born. 



Research by think tank New Economics Foundation shows that
simply measuring economic growth (GDP) does not measure quality of life.  They have devised the ‘Measure of Domestic
Progress’ (MDP) which shows that crime and inequality have grown apace with the
economy.  (  Redefining what we mean by ‘progress’ is the
subject of ‘conversations’ to be held in Glasgow and Edinburgh in April and
May.  (



The Executive is consulting on the proposed Co-operative
Development Agency.  It is ironic that
this is a Liberal Democrat initiative – co-operatives being a bit too ‘leftie’
for new Labour.



YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every
notice you send. But please send in any relevant items (before noon Thursday)
to and we’ll post them on our site.  This week:


JOBS: 39 vacancies including Shelter, People First
(Scotland), SCVO, RSPB, FoES, The Youth Bus Group, Gorbals Arts Project, TAG
Theatre Company, Update, The Rock Trust, The Ark Trust.


EVENTS: 8th European Business Ethics Network Annual
Conference, Edinburgh, 1-2 April; CRNS conference, Stirling, 7th
April; Full Employment in Scotland conference, Glasgow, 19 April; Scottish
Global Awareness Conference, Edinburgh, 24-25 April; Creative Clusters
conference, Brighton, 28 April 28-1May; The Way Forward For Rural Scotland
conference, Edinburgh 10th May.


CAN YOU HELP? Re-Union (
is fitting out the community barge at Ratho. Urgent need: volunteers with
practical skills to help ‘float the boat’ in April.


For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’ at: 



The American giant Citigroup has just announced ‘the largest
profit by an American corporation in history’, reinforcing our impression that
banking is one of the most profitable activities in the world.  During the 20 years I worked in Wester
Hailes no bank would offer a service – because “you can’t make a profit from
poor people”.  Much credit, then, to the
Wester Hailes Representative Council and the Bank of Scotland whose community
banking agreement has opened over 1000 new current accounts in Wester Hailes
over the past two years and is attracting national interest.  (



Senscot banks with Triodos which only lends money to
organisations and businesses ‘pursuing positive social, environmental and
cultural goals’ – they publish a comprehensive list of activities they
finance.  This issue of transparency is
dealt with by their Managing Director Charles Middleton in the attached
article.  (  But to be honest one of the main reasons for
our shift was that we have a real life account manager called David Cousland
who knows who we are.



Senscot, SCVO et al wrote to Margaret Curran complaining
about the delay of the Social Economy Action Plan.  The Minister has replied and we hear that things are on the move
at last.  (



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise initiative
in the west of Scotland which is a subsidiary of the charity, Unity
Enterprise.  Unity Enterprise Innovation
was set up in 1993 as a model that focused on helping individuals prepare for
and obtain employment.  The initiative
has created a number of social enterprises which enable participants to gain
work experience within a semi-commercial environment.  As a social enterprise, all the profits are recycled through
Unity Enterprise in order to invest into new initiatives.  To date, UEI has set up four enterprises:
Unity Travel Options and Travel Café both based in the Trongate in Glasgow,
Unity Furniture Options in Clydebank and Unity Catering Options in
Greenock.  For further info’, see



“People elect governments not to wage war and bring destruction
to people and planet but to maintain peace, security and order.  If our leaders have failed to keep peace,
then they have failed in their fundamental duty.  If politicians have failed to listen to the early warnings of an
impending crisis then they have neglected their essential responsibility.  Prime Ministers and presidents who take
their countries to war have utterly failed in delivering a safe, secure form of
government.  Such government leaders
must be made to admit their failure and be forced to resign from their posts so
that we can elect new leaders who will promise to maintain peace at home and
abroad.” – Satish Kumar


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

Best wishes,



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