Senscot Bulletin: 27-05-2005



(Going out weekly to over 2500; searchable archive of bulletins at web-site,


Dear members and friends,


We humans are the most successful and the most dangerous predators on the planet. We owe this dominance to the highly tuned instincts of our primitive right brain – the speed with which it discerns danger – even before thought (cerebral cortex) clicks in. For instance – whenever I see George Galloway my instinct says ‘chancer’ – can’t help it – even though I loved the slagging he gave the ‘lickspittle’ neo-con in Washington .

Organised society fears primitive brain – rewards cerebral left brain activity – reasoned, controlled, evidence based. Google performed 150 million searches a day in 2002. Now it averages 1 billion daily. Over generations, human mental activity is moving from right brain to left – from instinct to rational. The entire content of the world’s greatest libraries will soon be available free on the internet. What will be the effect of this extraordinary democratisation of information? It will surely bring humankind closer in some way but will it make us wiser – to address the eternal problems of human existence. I sense not – that such judgements happen at a deeper level – from lived values.

My paternal grandmother couldn’t read or write – not a word. After Sunday lunch our family would sit around reading the papers – we’d smile when Nonna, to join in, would also sit with a paper – sometimes upside down. But illiteracy had no effect on the authority of her judgements about people, or life situations. Had she ever encountered Gorgeous George, she would have murmured with her wily smile: ‘Quello e furbo.’ – ‘that one’s a chancer.’ 



Our piece last week reporting some grumblings about the conduct of the Futurebuilders Fund has been regarded by the Social Economy Unit as useful comment – and its head Roddy McDonald has taken the time to draft full comments clarifying some points. This willingness to listen and adapt bodes well – see what you make of his comments. Social enterprise is not for everyone. It is essentially an attitude of mind which includes some of the hard realities of trading. Many voluntary organisations will decide quite rightly – that’s not where they want to go. But some of the complainers seem to be seedcorn applicants who want to make this step change – and don’t understand the reasons given for rejection.



A few years ago when none of the private trusts would fund Senscot – the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation saw the relevance of the entrepreneurship/social enterprise agenda, and their three year core funding of 30K helped us to develop as an independent new voice on the Scottish scene. EFF have now replaced their Social Development programme with ‘Social Change: Enterprise and Independence’ which moves it even closer to the heart of the social enterprise sector. Particularly if you’re a community based social enterprise in an area that needs help – this is worth checking out. The basic idea has similarities to the Scottish Futurebuilders Fund – enterprise, and achieving a degree of independence through generating income. So the same caveat applies – its not for everyone. They’ve also got a loan fund through the Charity Bank. More on EFF next week.  



Senscot member Leslie Huckfield wants to make social enterprises aware of the contract opportunities which have become available through changes in the system of handling patients’ complaints within the NHS. Each Area Health Board will be required to commission an organisation(s) to provide essential services including(a) advice and support to patients wishing to make a complaint (b) Information and advice on a variety of issues which impact on health and well-being. This is potentially a huge market – an opportunity to make money and improve a public service. Les can tell you more about it:  



YELLOW PAGES/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: 41 vacancies, incl. posts with: Craigencault Ecology Centre, Social Firms Scotland, LEEP, Highland Council, University of Highlands and Islands, Youth Scotland , Grounds for Learning.


EVENTS: ‘New Ways to manage your business or yourself’ – taster session, Edinburgh, 1 June; DARE presentation and disability related exhibition, Dundee, 10 June;  Networking event on arts, crafts, healthy food, exercise, wildlife and recycling, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, 12 June; Learning Evaluation and Planning (LEAP) events, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, 24, 28, 30 June.


ACAS ‘Rights at work’ updates, incl: Communicating with employees, Contracts of employment, Dealing with grievances, Discipline at Work, available at



Senscot’s AGM is on Friday 17th June at 1pm in the Quaker Meeting House in Edinburgh.



The Executive has delivered on its promise to create a Co-operative Development Agency to expand and develop the co-operative sector in Scotland. The location of this Agency as a subsidiary of Scottish Enterprise signals the overarching emphasis on enterprise and its potential contribution to the economy.   



This week’s bulletin profiles a new organisation in Edinburgh providing computer equipment to disabled people. Pass IT On collects donated computers, adapts them and gives them to people with disabilities in the Edinburgh (EH) postcode area. Pass IT On will consider working with any client, regardless of their age or what they want to use their computer for. More recently, Pass IT On has created its own online webshop – – which provides links to many major on-line suppliers. Pass IT On receives commission on every purchase made. Further info:



The way our politicians in Scotland pay no regard to the Third Sector is both insulting and demoralising. But in last week’s annual Parliamentary debate (19th May) on the voluntary sector, the Greens proposed an amendment recognising the distinctiveness of social enterprise and its need for tailored support. To everyone’s surprise Labour supported it. This parliamentary decision is particularly interesting in that the Executive doesn’t use the term social enterprise – preferring the catchy phrase ‘social economy organisations with a degree of trading activity’. The Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition has provided a note of the debate: The different subsectors of the social economy- and their distinct needs – were further acknowledged in Malcolm Chisholm’s speech to the Voluntary Sector’s meeting with the Executive in Edinburgh on Wed. 25th May. Colin was there – thought there were encouraging signs that diversity is being recognised.




A wet week in the garden – greenery sprouting wildly. A rabbit nibbled the bark of my new hawthorn sapling – so I put net round it. Next morning dramatically a half eaten rabbit lay there – it felt like my fault – but neighbour says it’s our local buzzard. Even in its indifference to life and death – it’s good to connect to nature’s ways. We tend the soil – soil tends the soul. Czelaw Milosz captures this in his poem, ‘Gift’.

‘A day so happy. Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden. Humming birds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers. There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess. I knew no-one worth my envying him. Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot. To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me. In my body, I felt no pain. When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and the sails.’


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


Best wishes,



If you would like to receive this bulletin directly, e-mail