Senscot Bulletin: 28-07-2006

Dear members and friends,

As I grow older I become more conscious of the wrong I have done in my life – broken promises – unpaid debts – abandoned friends. For years so much denied – I dread what’s still to remember. Sometimes I feel a burning shame. T.S. Eliot called it, ‘The rending pain of re-enactment of all that you have done, and been.’
 One of my lifelong golf pals has been ill – when I visited he was over the worst but still very weak. The mood was reflective – I think he’s had a fright. He asked what phase of my life I’d enjoyed the most – would choose to live again. ‘I find that difficult, ‘ I said, ‘ I remember the bad bits more.’ He said that for him it was our golf in the 70s and 80s. Every Tuesday – the group of us – rain or shine. How on summer evenings we’d play till the light failed. He said his favourite links was Gullane – looking down at the sea – with larks springing out of the long grass and singing above our heads. I recited the end of Betjeman’s poem, ‘Summer Golf’: ‘Larksong and seasounds in the air and splendour, splendour everywhere.’ For two hours we exchanged happy memories. I need to remember there is joy too in the re-enactment of what we have been.

My delight last week at Polly Toynbee’s weekly column in Third Sector was short lived – her Guardian editor has stopped it. Toynbee believes the role of our sector has a new importance in the social and political life of this country. She understands and supports what we do and could have brought our world nearer to the mainstream. This is a great disappointment. Her second and final piece is linked below. It is about the awful fankle our English cousins have got themselves into over whether posh schools provide public benefit. She says you could take the view that they are ‘one of the greatest public disbenefits in our society’. Our Executive got this right in Scotland.

For me, community ownership of assets is the most effective strategy at our disposal for the regeneration of our poorest communities. A new report written by Stephen Thake for the Department of Communities and Local Government is a must for community developers. I’ve printed it – 60 pages – I`ll read it this week. I’ve been waiting on this one. ‘Community Assets: the benefits and costs of community management and ownership’:

Another thing that the Executive got right was supporting the Restorative Justice pilot that SACRO has been pioneering with young offenders in Aberdeen. An evaluation shows that 70% of youngsters who met their victims did not re-offend in the first year of the scheme. More than 200 meetings have already taken place and 90% of victims have recommended others to take part. Isn’t this a marvellous story?

Have you noticed how activity is really hotting up around the theme of getting investment into the social enterprise sector? Aidan and Colin are in talks with private sector ‘angels’. An interesting social investment fund has been launched by the Irish government:   Social Investment Scotland, which is part of the HIE lottery consortium, is developing its own model: Alex Walker from Findhorn, who is on the board of DTA Scotland, has drafted a paper outlining various types of possible investment, and Senscot would welcome comments:

In a study carried out by NCVO, over 90% of trustees of voluntary organisations did not feel that they had the skills to do the job properly. Senscot feels that the value and needs of voluntary board and committee members is undervalued. Maybe it’s something the Exchange can look into.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs ( or events ( and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 25 vacancies, incl. posts with: Pure Media UK, Universal Comedy, Voluntary Action West Lothian, Glasgow Homelessness Network, Voluntary Arts Scotland.

EVENTS: EUS Community Learning Centre Open Days, Edinb; 14-16 Aug; Social Enterprise Institute – How to deliver triple bottom lines, 8 Sept, Edinb; Creating Connections – Strategic Campaigning Training,11-12 Sept, Edinb; Women as Social Entrepreneurs & Leaders in Business, 15 Sept, Edinb;

Senscot Exchange is working with Business Mentoring which is offering a free service to social enterprises (outwith the Highlands and Islands area). The organisation must have a turnover of £70K, employ 3 or more staff and have over 100 beneficiaries.  If you think a business mentor could help you and your organisation, please contact Pat for more information:

Adele Blakebrough, CEO of the Community Action Network (CAN) is one of the UK pioneers of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship. Here is a thoughtful interview from last week’s Guardian:  Also a piece from the Telegraph on CAN`s new investment fund for social enterprises – the Breakthrough Initiative.

The Bullwood Project in Glasgow recycles timber for woodworking crafts by people who through illness or adversity find themselves isolated. Their workshop in Pollock is a meeting place to share ideas and skills and to make items for sale to cover costs. Bullwood is launching a monthly Craft Fair in the Hopkirk Building in Glasgow’s Botanical Gardens. £10 per table:

Concise definition of social enterprise: social mission + business model + asset lock = social enterprise.

I sometimes get asked to collect the musings and quotes from the bulletin into a wee book. I get paid to write it so it belongs to Senscot and we’ve decided to do it if we get sponsorship (around £5k). We’ll print 1,000 at a tenner each – so if we sell 500 you’ll get your money back. It’s one of those great investments where you can’t win but you can lose the lot. Offers to

This week’s bulletin profiles a South East Edinburgh initiative for incubating social enterprises. SPACE, led by Castle Rock Edinvar, aims to create a Centre of Excellence for Social Enterprise by housing Edinburgh’s leading social enterprises, providing support to emerging and transforming social enterprises, and building on the added value of co-location. SPACE will be sited in the completely refurbished former Craigmillar Primary School. The Centre will provide a range of office space, training facilities and meeting rooms and will include a nursery and crèche. SPACE is now actively seeking potential tenants. For more info’, see

A poem about a painting – Czeslaw Milosz looks at ‘Port in La Rochelle’ by Jean Baptiste Corot:

‘His name is luminosity. Whatever he saw would bring to him, would humbly offer its interior without waves, its silence, its calm, like a river in the haze of an early morning, like a mother of pearl in a black shell. So too, this port, in an afternoon hour with its slumbering sails, its heat, where we wandered perhaps, heavy with wine, unbuttoning our waistcoats for him, was airy. It revealed radiance in the disguise of a moment. These small figures are real till today: there are three women, another is riding a donkey, a man is rolling a barrel, horses in their collars, patient. He, holding his palette, called out to them, summoned them, led them away from the poor earth of toil and bitterness into this velvety province of goodness.’

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

Best wishes,

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