Senscot Bulletin: 28.09.12

Dear members and friends,

Graham Greene has a line: "There is always a moment in childhood when the door opens – and lets the future in".  Aged 8, I was at boarding school where cricket was a big deal.  The coach, who has played for Yorkshire, is trying to teach me how to bat properly – but I prefer my own method – an agricultural swipe across the line of the ball.  My continued defiance over many months – leads to the threat of expulsion.  This incident is my first remembered clash with authority; I was wrong, of course, to disrespect my teachers – but this ‘contrarian’ spirit has remained a life companion – a continuing source of unwise counsel.
 Last Friday, I’m queuing – with 250 other ‘cattle’ for my Ryanair return flight to Edinburgh.  They wheel out that cage thing – to check the size of our cabin cases; palpable fear spreads through the ‘herd’.  It occurs to me that Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ – is not the rogue state – but this kind of overbearing capitalism – where all courtesy has been lost.  A women my age gets called out – her case goes in, but she cant get it out – stuck – seems close to tears.  I walk over – angry – "Can’t you see that this lady is distressed"   I can look ferocious.  Later I reflect – is this what ‘outsourced’ geriatric care will be like – ‘Ryancare’ – couldn’t handle this.  Then a cheerier thought – maybe one of their optional extras will be assisted suicide – bit like priority boarding. 

We all have our dreams for the future of a sovereign Scotland – one of mine is that land will be owned by the communities which live on it; it is no longer acceptable that rich families own huge chunks of our country.  Andy Wightman, the land rights campaigner, sends info about a bold new initiative to challenge the absentee owners of the Island of Bute – and the Applecross peninsula in Wester Ross.  It is a fundamental principle that hostile bids to take ownership must come from communities themselves; but I’m a tenant of the landed gentry – there will be very real fear among locals to incur the wrath of ‘the estate’.  Many of us will be watching and hoping that this initiative catches light. See,

The international debate about the term social enterprise – what it means – is beginning to shape itself into two separate camps; these can be distinguished as the European and US positions.  Europeans say that there are certain core ‘definitional’ principles to which all SEs should aspire; the US position is more open – that an SE can be anything you want it to be.  In Scotland, the consensus is strongly for the European model – while in England there is clearly growing support for the US ‘hybrid’ interpretation.  This piece, by a Georgia academic, summarises US thinking – just about the opposite of Senscot’s position.  See,

All the hype just now is about ‘investment readiness’ as if we should all aspire to take on debt.  This, of course, is nonsense; loan finance is only relevant to enterprises which can trade profitably – which will always be a minority of third sector organisations.  One can see a gap developing; on the one hand – a small number of giant national charities delivering public services (in the manner of SERCO and CAPITA); on the other – thousands of local organisations – dependant on grants and community support – the real third sector.  This report looks at who should borrow. See,

In March this year I attended a seminar at Edinburgh Yooni – about the amazing citizen-driven constitutional reform in Iceland.  Prof. Thorvaldur Gylfason told us how the process had revealed a dynamic new constituency for constitutional politics – quite separate from official party politics.  This is what many of us in civil society are trying to spark in Scotland – but the professional politicians don’t like it.  I’ve joined the Electoral Reform Society Scotland.

Senscot’s engagement with front line SEs indicates an urgent need for loan finance at the lower end – between £5k and £50k.  Neither the main banks – nor the specialist SE lenders like Triodos and SIS – want this business – can’t make it pay.  CDFIs, like Developing Strathclyde Ltd (DSL), try to fill this gap – but they need more working capital.  A new scheme in Brighton – small but widely regarded as a pilot – offers interest free loans up to £10k (along with practical help) – to fledgling SEs.  The Social Enterprise Assist Scheme – is a partnership, backed with govt. innovation funding.  Are there lessons here for Scotland?  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: East Renfrewshire Women’s Aid, Children’s Hearings Scotland, South Kintyre Development Trust, Workingrite, Timespan, Stanley Development Trust, Wasps Artists’ Studios, Lifelink, Xchange Scotland
EVENTS: Women of the Necropolis, 30 Sep; Seminar: Children Missing from Care, 2 Oct; Portobello Market, 6 Oct; How can great places create value for local people?, 10 Oct;
TENDERS: Addiction Services Employability Project, Specialist Advice Framework Agreement, Catering Services in Aberdeen and a Feasibility and Business Appraisal.  For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Senscot, this week, presented at the Parliamentary Cross Party Group on Food. We were asked to give an overview of the work and activity of the SENs with particular reference, of course, to the Community Food SEN (CFSEN). CFSEN is relatively new and was set up following a ’roundtable’ event hosted by Community Food Health (Scotland). The SEN has met around 5/6 times, has nearly 30 members, but attendance at SEN meetings has been patchy. We are a very conscious that there are a number of active community food networks in Scotland and, in an effort to avoid duplication, we plan to host a joint meeting in the coming weeks to explore how best to take forward the work of the Community Food SEN. For more Networks News, see

Next Friday (5th Oct) is Senscot’s annual Seminar and AGM – being held at City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow (10am – 2pm). See, . Our topic for this year’s Seminar will be ‘A Scottish Community Bank’ – with guest speaker Malcolm Hayday (Founder and CEO of Charity Bank). Could our own bank be an alternative to Big Society Capital in Scotland? The event is free to full company members – others £20.  A few places are still available, see

Over the years, the Community Food Initiative North East (CFINE) has been promoting a collective approach to development and growth in the community food sector. In developing this work further and building links with the community food sectors in England and Wales, CFINE is hosting a conference in London on 22nd November. The Conference is entitled, "The UK Community Food Sector: Towards Sustainability through Collective Action and Social Enterprise." For details and how to book, see

The Cultural and Creative Social Enterprise Network (CCSEN) is holding its second annual Conference on Wed 31st October at the Birnam Arts & Conference Centre, by Dunkeld. See, The Conference will showcase the work being delivered by social enterprises in the cultural and creative sector and explore some of the common issues they are facing. The event is FREE. For programme and to book a place, see, On a related theme, this piece from the Guardian – on a theatre company in England – gives a flavour of the attraction of the SE model for many organisations in the cultural and creative sector. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles an Edinburgh venture that provides support and guidance to the over 50s via learning the benefits of computer training and the internet. Third Age Computer Fun (TACF) currently run six clubs across the city and as well as providing new computer and internet skills  also helps to build new friendships with other members, building more confidence and self esteem. In 2011, TACF picked up the Herald Society Award for Older People’s Project of the Year. See,

The link below is to an extract from a letter by the Poet Ted Hughes to his son.  I’ve read it several times – for its evocation of the power and vulnerability of own inner child.  Beautiful.
 "Every single person is vulnerable to an unexpected defeat in this inmost emotional self.  At every moment behind the most efficient seeming adult exterior, the whole world of the person’s childhood is being carefully held like a glass of water bulging above the brim.  And in fact, that child is the only real thing in them.  It’s their humanity, their real individuality, the one that can’t understand why it was born and that knows it will have to die, in no matter how crowded a place, quite on its own.  That’s the carrier of all the living qualities.  It’s the centre of all the possible magic and revelation."  See full letter,
That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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