Senscot Bulletin: 27-01-2006

Dear members and friends,

Previous time my pal Keith and I attended a London board meeting, the last EasyJet from Stansted was delayed 3 hours.  Catching the same flight on Wednesday with an hour to kill, we go for a pizza – the gossip is so good we forget the time.  We run to the gate (Keith does – I can’t run) but they won’t let us on. Feel like a couple of plonkers. Last flight of the day is a Ryanair to Prestwick – they charge us £165 each – and we still had to get from Prestwick. ‘The low cost airline’ –  my ars*.
 Some weeks I feel the universe is blanking me.  Folk don’t return calls – no one seems to be listening – I feel insubstantial.  This week was like that.  By Thursday it got to me.  In the checkout at Comet buying a heater – the guy asks my postcode, but the computer doesn’t recognise me – he keeps trying.  I cracked.  ‘Listen’ I said, ‘I’ve decided that I don’t want you to know where I live – I’m homeless.  Do you want my money or not.’  He summoned security and the manager.  I went a bit OTT. 
 E.F.Schumacher in his book ‘Good Work’, tells an anecdote about a couple with an 8 year old lad at the next table in a restaurant.  The waitress is taking the order – the boy chooses liver and bacon – father studies the menu and orders 3 steaks.  The waitress repeats ‘one liver and bacon and 2 steaks’ and goes away.  The boy remarks ‘Mummy, that woman thinks I’m real.’  Sometimes that’s how it feels.

This week, Aidan attended the UK Coalition’s Voice 06 Conference in Manchester. He writes, ‘For the second year running, the UK Coalition’s conference attracted around 700 people and demonstrated again that, in England at least, the social enterprise sector has the full support of government. So much so, in fact, that the conference opened with a recorded video message from the Prime Minister that described the sector as being ‘central to the government’s agenda for reform’. Their vision is of a sector that becomes a mainstream choice for setting up in business. At present, social enterprises make up1% of the business sector in the UK. In order for these aspirations to be fulfilled, it is crucial that that high quality and credible support is available to stimulate more success stories. Whilst there appears general agreement on this, the real challenge is identifying the right structure and delivery of this support.

Regular readers will know that we have, for months been trying to find out when the Executive intends to honour their promise to appoint a Social Economy Advisory board.  Murdo Fraser MSP asked the Minister formally and received this answer from Johann Lamont. ‘We expect the Social Economy Advisory Board to be operational by March 2006.  The board will advise Ministers on the future development of the social economy.  This will include advising on the Social Enterprise Strategy and the future development of the Futurebuilders Scotland programme.  I expect to announce membership of the Board shortly:

At Senscot, we value our independence – our freedom to innovate. But undertaking controversial (unfundable) activity depends on having some unrestricted funds.  Every January we invite recipients of the bulletin to send a donation for new work. This year we’ve got ideas to help members access the massive NHS budgets. Individuals are invited to send £10, £25 or £50 and organisations £50 or £100. If you require an invoice, email So far 20 of you have contributed £1600. Our thanks to the following: You can also donate online at this link.

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: 42 vacancies, incl. posts with: Craigencalt Ecology Centre, Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, Greencity Wholefoods, The Iona Community, Inclusion Alliance, Community Enterprise in Strathclyde. 

EVENTS: ‘The right Stuff’, Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum Conference 2006, Dundee , March 10; Third Edinburgh International Festival on Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace, 8 Feb – 12 March; 2006 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, Oxford, March 29-31;

Scottish Enterprise has appointed Jan Hughes as Chief Executive of the new Cooperative Development Agency (CDA) for Scotland – and Ivan Broussine as Chairman of the board.  Ian was 12 years with Queens Cross in Glasgow where he led spectacular growth.  It’s taken a long time to get this initiative established:

One of the highlights of my duties with Scotland UnLtd is the annual competition for level 2 awards.  This year we interviewed 12 applicants and the standard was the best yet.  Jim Bennett has just had a baby called Catriona Rowan and is on leave – but his colleague Eileen Inglis sends the attached report.

There is increasing acceptance internationally that social entrepreneurs, whose enterprises bring benefits to society, should not pay the same taxes as commercial businesses. The law Firm Linklaters has done a major piece of work (pro bono) looking at how a more supportive tax and legislative environment could be established globally for such enterprises. Along with the Schwab Foundation, they presented their findings to the World Economic Forum at Davos this week.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has flagged up the need to give attention to start-up seed-corn money for social enterprises. UnLtd grants are, of course, precisely that for individuals and hopefully the review of Futurebuilders Scotland will renew its commitment. Scottish Enterprise assert repeatedly that start-ups are not their ‘bag’. And Gordon is right – there is a gap.

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise based in the Southside of Glasgow – Southside Media. Their first newspaper is called G41 and serves the communities of Pollokshields and Strathbungo. Set up by former BBC Scotland reporter, David Eyre, they believe that people need good local information and news if they’re to have a chance of changing their communities for the better. Southside Media believe that G41 is the first newspaper in the UK to be completely produced using open source software. Profits from G41 will be re-invested in the enterprise. This will eventually allow them to start up other newspapers in other areas of Glasgow’s southside – and beyond. It has been registered as a Community Interest Company. For further info’, see     

In my Old Testament, the book of Ecclesiastes is only 8 pages long but it is peppered with phrases and wisdom  which have passed into common usage.  Ecclesiastes was an actual person, a king in Jerusalem around the third century BC.  His theme is the futility and vanity of human striving which some find pessimistic – but I find soothing – a kind of Buddha resignation. From Ecclesiastes: ‘What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh to the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh but the earth abideth for ever.  The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.  The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returns again according to his circuits.  All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; until a place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.’

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

Best wishes,
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