Senscot Bulletin: 28.03.13

Dear members and friends,

 A mild urinary infection is making me feel grotty; our health centre has a drop-in clinic each morning – just arrive and wait your turn; but today there are 20 people ahead of me – only two doctors working the queue; waiting time is over an hour – the reception area is freezing – I feel miserable.  With nothing better to do, I watch the punters enter and leave each doctor’s room – soon notice an obvious pattern; those leaving Dr A’s room look glum – those seen by Dr B are smiling.  It can’t be coincidence.
 It’s Dr B who eventually calls my name – and quickly I’m charmed; everything he says – all his signals – are attentive and considerate.  As I leave with my prescription, try to decide why I’m smiling; conclude its respect – that I feel respected.  In the pharmacy, I exchange friendly banter with the assistants; same in Scotmid – take my croissants to the checkout lady who enjoys a bit of patter.  On my short drive home – I reflect how naturally kind people are – how simple it is to spread a little sunshine.
 On the roof of my cottage – two estate workies are replacing broken slates; still full of good humour, I shout up – "Come and have some coffee and croissants lads."  Our handyman, Martin, wears his normal mournful countenance.  "I’m glad you’re in a good mood, Laurence" he says "the laddie has just put his ladder through your kitchen window".

Big Society Capital (BSC) was launched by the UK Govt as the answer to the third sector’s need for investment – but as most people now realise – it has other intentions.  The third sector would be ‘trained’ to use loan finance – provided, at profit, by the private sector.  But the idea of personal gain from our work is a fundamental contradiction of the ethos of what we do; none of the ‘originators’ of BSC – was close enough to the charity sector to understand this.  Its products are irrelevant to us and its meagre deal flow reflects this.  The Scottish Govt was right to leave the mess of BSC well alone – and it has been generous with investment in our Enterprising Third Sector; but many of us feel that we now need our Govt and our Lottery – to offer more clarity about their vision for social investment (SI) in Scotland.  Mary Duffy’s balanced report about Social Investment (featured last week) has a page of specific recommendations for Scotland. See here,

Senscot subscriber, Niamh Goggin, sends us the report IVAR did for The English Charity Commission – called ‘Charities and Social Investment’.  The four pages of conclusion offer a balanced and thoughtful ‘snapshot’ of SI in the UK – drawn from in depth interviews – from within and outwith our sector.  See,

Both of these research reports are referenced in this excellent blog by Vibeka Mair – a senior reporter for Civil Society.  "The remit of Big Society Capital" – she says – "is not to fund the charity and social enterprise sector – it is to grow the social investment market – this is very different".  Highly recommended.  See,

It can be interesting to read about SE from a perspective outwith our sector; this piece is about how the internet has enhanced the spread of social enterprise around the world.  The 14 year old Senscot bulletin is entirely dependent on the World Wide Web – See,  Google announced this week that Tim Berners Lee – founder of the WWW has agreed to help choose the winner of 4 social enterprises will get half a million quid each – to implement their ideas on how the internet can address social problems.   See,

Because of our punitive attitude to failure – I believe the SE community in Scotland misses out on a lot of learning.  Instead of carefully debriefing the main players – unpicking, recording and sharing the reasons for insolvency – we content ourselves with uninformed gossip.  Perhaps this is the measure of the maturity of a business community.  Some insights from a doctoral student, Andreana Drencheva. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: GalGael Trust, Social Care Ideas Factory, Edinburgh University Students Association, Stramash, Partners in Advocacy, UK Green Investment Bank, Bridges Programmes
EVENTS: The Magic Horse, 1 Apr; Rapunzel, 2 Apr; Making Your Asset More Sustainable, 11 Apr; Youth Enterprise Nation, 16 Apr;
TENDERS: Print Services for the Tayside Procurement Consortium and Rutherglen Low Carbon Zone – Office Development. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: The Third Sector Interface in Dumfries and Galloway has had a challenging time over the last year or two but now, with support from Scottish Govt and D&G Council, a new entity has been formed. Third Sector First will bring together voluntary organisations, charities, social enterprises, co-operatives and mutuals from across Dumfries and Galloway to provide a coherent structure for the third sector in the region, with clear links to community planning. Cabinet Secretary John Swinney will be attending the formal launch of Third Sector First at Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries, on Monday 8th April. See,  For more Networks News, see

Office rental: Senscot has an office for rent available at Manor Place, Edinburgh. The room available is approx. 300sq ft with rent at £6,500 per annum. If interested, contact

The headline figures from Glasgow SEN’s recent ‘mapping’ of social enterprise in the City made for impressive reading – 509 social enterprises; 13,000 employees; 2.2bn in assets; 700m turnover. Other SENs (Edinburgh, Dundee and Dumfries and Galloway) are currently carrying out similar exercises. Senscot is in discussion with partner organisations with a view to extending this research across the country. This will very much be a collective effort – and will provide, for the first time, a true sense of the size and scale of the social enterprise community across Scotland. We`ll keep you posted on progress.

The empowerment of geographical communities is increasingly being shown to be linked to a local, community owned, anchor organisation – which provides leadership, cohesion, capacity etc.  There is also a very obvious link between the development of wind turbines and the long term core income of community anchors.  But as the linked piece shows – there is no legal obligation on developers to benefit local communities.  The Govt’s Community Empowerment Bill should address this.  See,

Locality in England (see, ) is launching a competition to find successful examples of peer-to-peer learning to inform the Big Lottery Fund’s forthcoming Learning for Impact initiative. In Scotland, DTA Scotland will be doing their bit by pulling together some examples from up here. Hopefully, a PEER learning funding programme will emerge on the back of this work. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise, based in Stirling, which is looking to develop a creative hub in the city, with space and facilities to support the creative and cultural industries, as well as the broader community. Creative Stirling hosts music and other cultural events in its outdoor yard space and in other spaces around the city. They also project manage external arts projects and are developing a portfolio of partnerships with national and Stirling based businesses and agencies to support this. They are committed to making opportunities for the creative young talent pool of Stirling to thrive, settle and have a positive impact on the identity of the city and its local economy. For more, see

The Pope’s younger sister – Maria Elena Bergoglio – told the Daily Telegraph recently that her brother enjoyed dancing the tango.  Alexander Chancellor wrote in his Spectator column this week:

 "It is clear that the Pope’s sister is right.  In an interview published three years ago, the then Cardinal Bergoglio said of the tango.  ‘I like it a lot.  It’s something that comes from within me’.  The tango is an almost absurdly erotic dance, developed in the slums and brothels of Argentina before spreading like wildfire around the world.  It is to the Pope’s great credit that he still loves the tango and does not regard it as a youthful aberration from which his calling has rescued him.  This is the strongest sign yet that we are about to experience a new kind of pontificate."  See,

That’s all for this week.
Easter is a joyful holiday – heralding spring and new hope – enjoy,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210