Senscot Bulletin: 28-03-08

Dear members and friends,

Everyone’s talking about the credit crunch – how it may get worse. The deliberate, reckless overselling of credit has destabilised world banking. Some ringleaders have made off with millions. Financial regulators, in thrall to big business, allowed it to run out of control. Now that the sh#t has hit the fan, no-one I meet is much surprised. You don’t have to be an economist to suss that a system without commitment, trust or long term relationships – a system driven by greed – must eventually break down. As Mohammad Yunus says, ‘It is no longer a question if people are credit worthy, but rather if banks are people worthy.’ Can banking recover? Can Capitalism defend itself from Capitalists?
 Wednesday at Lundin Links – an awards lunch for Fife social enterprises – a real buzz. I love gatherings of social entrepreneurs. The camaraderie, sharing ideas, mutual support, commitment – all the vitality of a movement gathering momentum. I read this quote from some big shot at Shell Oil: ‘Socialism collapsed because it did not allow prices to tell the economic truth – but Capitalism may collapse because it doesn’t allow prices to tell the ecological truth.’ I sense that people are looking for a new way to run things. The Social Enterprise movement can be seen as a mutation of Capitalism � operating in markets to deliver social benefit – to save the planet. Can it be that our time is coming?
(200 of these intros can be browsed here:

Scottish Government tells us repeatedly that its enthusiasm for our Third Sector is because of our contribution to the economy. Most of my colleagues over 40 years worked from conviction – about some aspect of social justice. I can’t remember anyone who said they wanted to help the economy. But every generation clings to a myth by which it lives – ours is the myth of economic progress. Under the present administration, if you’re lucky enough to be a national third sector intermediary like Senscot, you’ll know where you stand financially by now. But if you’re one of the thousands of frontline projects – where the real work gets done – your finances are probably undecided, as the country waits to see how the new Concordat will play out in 32 different versions. Please send us your stories – we’ll try to build a national picture.

I’ve always understood the Stock Exchange to be a bit like betting horses – you study the form – assess the price – place your bet – hope for a quick killing. That’s why I can’t understand the concept of a `social` stock exchange – what’s in it for speculators? But I must be missing something because the Rockefeller Foundation has just put up £250k to fund a Feasibility Study for a UK social stock exchange. Anyone want to buy shares in Senscot?

A concept which seems better fitted to the spirit of social enterprise is the community share issue as described by this excellent piece by Chris Hill. There are signs that this model is gaining a foothold around the UK.

One of the big barriers in growing the social enterprise sector in Scotland is the lack of appropriate finance and funding products, aligned to support services. Social Venture Scotland (SVS) is a new proposal to establish an `investment plus support` programme for the sector in Scotland. SVS would aim to invest in existing or emerging social enterprises that are not currently ‘bankable’ because of the risk involved. Scottish Government is supporting Senscot, CEiS and Forth Sector to carry out feasibility research over the coming months. We’ll keep you posted. For more, see
Senscot`s annual appeal for donations is now closed. Our final figure is £5250.Sincere thanks – for the tenners as much as the fifties. Here`s an updated list of contributors  Those of you who opted for membership of Senscot Ltd will be added to the company register which will be circulated shortly.

Senscot will be recruiting a new member of staff to work with Colin in supporting the Local Social Enterprise Networks. Here’s the job description. If you’re interested, send your cv to
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: TSMA, The Melting Pot Edinburgh, Routes to Work South, Blake Stevenson, Scotland Malawi Partnership, Community One Stop Shop, C-MEE, Gift, Voluntary Action Fund
EVENTS: 14 events, Seminar on Intellectual Assets, 31 Mar, Edinburgh; Community and Project Development, 9Apr, Edinburgh; Advanced presentation skills workshop, 16 Apr, Glasgow; S2S Third Annual Social Enterprise Trade Fair, 23 Apr, Dundee;

NETWORKS 1st : Last week we mentioned that Senscot has been awarded almost �300k over three years to continue its work in support of the Local Social Enterprise Networks (LSENs). Part of these monies will enable us to recruit a new Network Development Officer. This will enable Senscot, amongst other things, to attend more local SEN meetings and also to visit individual social enterprises on a more regular basis. If the post is of interest, send your cv to  For more, see weekly update
Thanks to the readers who sent the attached list of 45 Primary Schools which Glasgow City Council plans to sell off for development. Not sure how up to date the list is but Senscot is aware of communities which are trying to hang on to the local school by taking it into community ownership. This issue, about what claim local communities have on surplus Council assets, goes right to the heart of the local empowerment v municipalist debate. Glasgow and Edinburgh Councils just don’t get it. 
Alistair Thornley, the social enterprise face of Scottish Enterprise, is to cease working for the Agency. His role, and part of Dave Coulter’s, is to be taken up by Sandy Watson, who’ll continue to work from SE`s Borders office. Alistair will continue to ply his trade as a freelance consultant � his strong suit is organisational strategy. We attach a note from him and send our thanks for his support of Senscot over the years.

This week’s bulletin profiles a community enterprise in Dumfries and Galloway that has as its objective the social and economic improvement of its community. Machars Action is located in Wigtown but serves the wider Machars peninsula. Their services include a one-stop shop for community services and information and an administrative service available to local groups and individuals. They also hire out rooms for meeting space and office accommodation. With a well established local presence, they also offer access for the community to other services that include CAB, the Food Train and Crossroads. For more, see

Joseph Campbell – The Way of the Animal Powers

‘Neither in body nor mind do we inhabit the world of those hunting races of Paleolithic millennia, to whose lives and life ways we nevertheless owe the very forms of our bodies and structures of our minds. Memories of their animal envoys still must sleep, somehow, within us: for they wake a little and stir when we venture into wilderness. They wake in terror to thunder. And again they wake, with a sense of recognition, when we enter any one of those great painted caves. Whatever the inward darkness may have been to which the shamans of those caves descended in their trances, the same must lie within ourselves, nightly visited in sleep’       

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

Best wishes,

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