Senscot Bulletin: 26-10-2007

Dear members and friends,

In the 70s and 80s, I did the rounds in search of a political crusade to join. Escaping from a closed Catholic belief system, I`d had enough of doctrine – Marxism just seemed like a different one – no thanks. I never found my great cause – stopped looking – temperamentally I’m a freelance – that`s okay. Recently I’ve joined the Green Party – it’s the inclusiveness which attracts. The smug priesthood, which spoils all good causes, hasn’t emerged yet.
 Recently I shared a car from Inverness with an academic environmentalist – a cheery chap, in no way strident – it was an engrossing 3 hours. He spoke about Peak oil – population – water – global warming – I learned about the instability of our global mechanisms for distributing oil and money. How our planet could never support everyone living the way we do in the west. It`s all much more precarious than I realised.
 I’m due to get my driving license back on 20th December, but I’m in no hurry to get a car. If the technology improves, I may get a wee electric buggy to get me to the shops – the train – a wind turbine to charge it – till then my bike and the odd taxi works fine. I’d like to live simple and self-sufficient. The most pivotal thing for me to accept has been that air travel has to stop. None of us knows what lies ahead – can’t say I`ll never fly again. But I’ve stopped bragging about it. Eurostar to Madrid then the Talgo to Malaga. Choo Choo!


Ever since the Scottish elections, John Swinney has put himself about the social enterprise landscape with bonhomie and intelligence. Grateful for such high level visitations, we have all avoided asking the awkward questions but the truth is that nothing new has happened. Apart from plentiful reports about what to do next – nothing of any substance has emerged since the Strategy last March. We always seem to be waiting – there`s no proactive edge – no momentum. Social Enterprise is no different from any other part of the Third Sector or the mainstream economy – growth depends on investment. The long awaited Spending Review on 14th November will tell us how much priority the Scottish Government attaches to our work.

Word on the street is that Communities Scotland is to become a `housing only` agency – with regeneration – social enterprise – community empowerment – etc all becoming the responsibility of Councils. I think this is the SNP administration’s first major mistake. The foxes are in the hen run.

Last year the Lottery in Scotland invited SCVO to apply for a major programme called Supporting Voluntary Action (SVA), centred on support for Scotland`s 55 Councils of Voluntary Service (CVS). Last week, BIG approved £6.7m of the package, asked for more work on £1.3m and rejected £1m. They also required that the SVA programme should have a wider governance board and that management fees should be reduced from 12% to 7%. What is required now is more clarity about getting the other £10m of the Dynamic and Inclusive Communities fund out the door. Is there to be a new strategic overview as rumoured? Will bids be invited from key players in Scotland`s underdeveloped community sector? Why are Lottery applications taking longer and longer to process?

The late, great Michael Young was arguably the 20th century’s greatest social entrepreneur. In 1954, he visited Joseph Rowntree`s model village of New Earswick and wrote an article about the importance of belonging to a place. In the modern age, he said, we’re all global citizens, ‘ but the trouble is, the world’s too big a place for anyone to feel at home.’ Steve Wyler, Director of the DTA, reflects in this piece about what Young saw as the essential ingredients of a community of place.

Tomorrow (Saturday) will see the launch of a new Scottish News magazine called Bella Caledonia – `fresh thinking for a new republic`. At last – a radical voice for more independence. Our mainstream press is owned by strangers. I think I`m going to enjoy this.

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: 32 vacancies, incl. posts with: Edinburgh Cyrenians, Forth Sector, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association
EVENTS: 23 events, incl Glasgow Equalities Partnership ‘Equalities Hub consultation event’, Glasgow, 1 Nov; Renfrewshire CVS Conference and Trade Fair, Paisley, 2 Nov; Reclaiming the Woods: Assets for Developing Communities, Dundee, 11 Nov; Fife Employment Access Trust, AGM & Launch of ‘Journey to Work’, 14 Nov, Glenrothes; Ethnic Minority Social Enterprise Showcasing Conference, 26 Nov, Edinburgh; ‘Making the Move: from homelessness to employability’, 30 Nov, Glasgow;

In England last week, Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears published an `empowerment action plan` setting out 23 areas for action – 10 of which are outlined in the attached press release. The Scottish Government has also announced its support for empowering communities and we must assume that these English action points will be evaluated for implementation up here. In both countries, community empowerment will depend on the action of local authorities which means that in many places – like Glasgow and Edinburgh – it won’t be taken seriously.

Remploy, one of the UK`s largest social enterprises, is to lay off 35% of its staff – close half of its factories. Gordon Keenan asks why trouble at this pioneering company (5,700 disabled staff) has met with a deafening silence from sector leaders.

Senscot has more a feel for start-up social enterprises than for the big national players. Reader Richard Frazer (Minister of Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh) send`s an inspiring story about an emergent social enterprise around recycled church pews.
This week’s bulletin profiles one of the Scottish winners in this year’s Enterprising Solutions Awards. Haven Products is one of Scotland’s largest social firms, employing over 100 people with disabilities, approximately 80% of their staff. They work with some of Scotland’s largest companies, who outsource elements of their production processes to Haven. They operate from a number of sites across Scotland delivering business services in a range of areas, from packaging to component assembly to print finishing. Their customers include IBM, Highland Council and Morgan Stanley. For more info`,

Alistair McIntosh is a singular Scottish voice not only for his interpretation of our cultural heritage but more importantly – his eloquence about spiritual experience. Here’s a talk he gave recently at a conference called `The Vital Spark`.

Alasdair Gray`s `Lanark` is credited with kick-starting a golden age of Scottish fiction. The most quoted lines in the book come in a scene in which Duncan Thaw looks out over Glasgow city centre in the company of a friend. ‘Glasgow is a magnificent city,’ the latter says. ‘Why do we hardly ever notice that?’ Thaw replies; ‘Because nobody imagines living here. If a city has not been used by an artist not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively.’ In a recent interview, Gray said; ‘There’s more Scottish creativity now because there’s more self-confidence. What’s important is that anybody, anywhere, feels that their country is the centre of attention, or is known elsewhere, and not just as a quaint outpost. Anyone in Paris is aware that this is the city of Balzac. People need their own art to keep themselves alive, conscious and confident.’

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

Best wishes.

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