Senscot bulletin: 27-07-2007

Dear members and friends,

Lots of emails in response to last week’s piece about spiritual stuff. Our personal journey inwards – the impulse to swap stories with other pilgrims. I met a monk recently  – unusual in that he’s comfortable talking about God –  his ‘kingdom not of this world’ – the real McCoy. I hear myself telling him that I believe in a spiritual force for good which heals and renews our spiritual morale – our hope. Some people call this ‘grace’. My ‘belief’ surprises me – just pops out, like it’s been waiting. He says quietly, ‘That’s the Holy Spirit embedded in your soul.’ But this is language I don’t understand – part of an inner landscape I’ll probably never understand. This doesn’t seem to matter so much – some simple things become clearer – like the primacy of kindness.
When it’s not raining I’m persevering with my new bike and there is something deeply satisfying about whizzing along entirely under my own power.  H. G. Wells said ‘When I see an adult on a bicycle I don’t despair for the future of the human race’. From my house, everywhere is uphill – so I need to keep stopping for breath – but the upside of this is that I freewheel home. I can now get to the garden centre in under twenty minutes – good home cooking café, popular with older folk like me. Today we watch a young chap in his twenties with learning difficulties, happily picking sweet peas from a display. The attendant who catches him is firm but kind – lets him keep the flowers. Everyone smiling – feeling good. A moment of grace.

The Treasury this week published the final report of its review of the third sector – the government’s vision of how it will support the range of third sector activities over the next decade. There are five main areas for action: enabling campaigning and giving a voice to diverse communities; strengthening communities by providing funding to encourage grassroots activities; building up capacity of third sector providers of public services; encouraging social enterprise; and developing a third sector evidence base. I spent a stimulating hour with the document, then a depressing half hour assessing which bits will get lost in the transfer to Scotland’s rickety delivery mechanisms. A good example of this leakage is the Quirk Review, which the government says it will implement in full – not a sniff of it in Scotland. The pundits will scrutinise the Treasury review and comment on Brown’s ‘nudge to the tiller’ of the UK Third Sector – away from big-scale service delivery – towards wee local groups and campaigning voices? Here’s Patrick Butler in the Guardian:

For a couple of years, Senscot has been trying to promote the term ‘community anchor organisations’ – to denote those strong locally controlled organisations which provide leadership in many of our communities. We adopted the term from the much undervalued Home Office report, ‘Firm Foundations’ (2004), and it is significant that this week’s Treasury Review also adopts this term – and cites the same source. The problem is that the Treasury Review significantly dilutes ‘locally controlled’ to ‘locally based’ – we have reproduced both definitions below. The Local People Leading campaign, which Senscot is part of, promotes anchor organisations owned by local people. The last thing we need is yet another version of so-called ‘partnerships’ controlled by council officials.

Chartered accountants Grant Thornton estimate that as much as £2.3 billion could be unclaimed in our bank accounts, but what will happen to it is still not clear. We know that a bill will go to the next session of parliament – and that what happens to the Scottish allocation will be decided by the Scottish Executive. The Third sector in Scotland should watch this serious money doesn’t just disappear into the coffers.
I understand they are now recruiting 20 ‘Ambassadors’ to go around the country extolling how fabby social enterprise is – groan. Something about this promotional hype jars with me – the ‘strut your stuff’ culture. For many of us, social enterprise is a counter-culture which stands for conducting our business in a reflective, less strident manner. Let our work speak for itself. It’s the difference between shadow and substance.

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: 20 vacancies, incl. posts with: North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, Soil Association Scotland, Big Lottery Fund, One World Shop, Berwickshire Housing Association, Scottish Parliament

EVENTS: 13 events, incl. The Ecology Centre Summer Festival, Craigencalt, 19 Aug; Public Social Partnership A Model for Social Enterprise Procurement, Glasgow; 29 Aug; Social Enterprise Business Models Conference, Glasgow, 4 Sept; The Shadow of a Pie, Lung Ha’s Theatre Company, across Scotland, 4-22 Sept; Healthy Glasgow: Our Business, Glasgow, 11 Sept;

Research by University of Durham commissioned by trade union UNISON raises doubts about the long-term viability of social enterprise groups within the NHS. Dave Prentice, UNISON General Secretary, said that social enterprises had existed before the NHS and had spawned inequality – it was important to learn from history. Booking is brisk for the Fit for Purpose conference. If you’d like to be there, see for the online booking form and draft programme. Remember, there’s no charge. For any further queries, contact

While in Eastern Canada recently, our Colin got the chance to meet up with folks from social enterprise in Ottawa and Toronto. Colin says ‘While the Canadians see themselves as being about 5 years behind Scotland, lacking political buy in and a well developed infrastructure of specialist support services, there are some impressive examples of success like the Centre for Social Innovation ( and Pivotal Services (  I also came across the Social Purchasing Portal (, something Scotland would benefit by learning from.’

This week we profile an Inverclyde wide organisation employing over 100 staff in a range of care, employability, and regeneration services provided across Inverclyde. In 1987 Greenock Employment Action Group (GEAG) was formed to deal with employment issues in the more disadvantaged areas of Greenock. In 1996 GEAG, along with other groups were reformed as Inverclyde Community Development Trust, creating a district-wide organisation with at that time over 40 staff members. The Trust (and GEAG) developed and managed a number of projects and programmes over the last 19 years, many of which are known in their own right. For further info’, see

When told he had inoperable cancer, Raymond Carver wrote the poem ‘What the Doctor Said’:
  ‘He said I am real sorry, he said I wish I had some other kind of news to give you. I said Amen and he said something else I didn’t catch, and not knowing what else to do and not wanting him to have to repeat it and me to have to fully digest it, I just looked at him for a minute and he looked back. It was then I jumped up and shook hands with this man who’d just given me something no one else on earth had ever given me. I may even have thanked him, habit being so strong.’

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

Best wishes.

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