Senscot Bulletin: 28.11.14

Dear members and friends,

            An hour into the mountains behind the Costa del Sol – the fortress town of Ronda – its history and romance – represents to me the ‘soul’ of Andalucia. I’m lucky to have old friends who live there – in the barrio San Francisco – where we lunched last week. The barrio is outside the southern walls of the old city – on the edge of the countryside. It’s like a village in its own right – great wee shops, bars, restaurants. I drive up the hill early – spend some time wandering around old haunts; but it’s not actual places we revisit; don’t you think it’s nostalgia for the younger self we once were – now gone forever; not sure how useful this is.

            It’s great seeing my friends again – hearing each other’s stories; nothing memorable about the restaurant or food – a sunlit terrace up a side street in the barrio; ‘menu del dia’ for 10 euros – but I’m left with a vivid memory of our waitress. Rosa is a plump woman, around 40 – not noticeably pretty; but with an amazing smile that lights up her whole face – lights up each table she visits; I feel constantly drawn to her ‘presence’. When paying the bill – with my friend translating – I thank her for her joyful smile – how generously she shares it – and ask the source of her joyfulness. Blushing slightly, she tells us that she has been very lucky – grew up in a household full of love – that as a child she was much loved. Driving back down the mountain I reflect on Rosa’s words. Yes, I think – sometimes life is as beautifully simple as that.

Looking for an original Xmas pressie? Why not purchase one (or both!) of Laurence’s musings for that ‘difficult’ friend. Each book – ‘You’ve Got to Laugh’ (2001- 2006): and ‘Kindness’ (2007 – 2012) – is available at £10 + £2 postage. If you buy both, we’ll cover postage. To order, contact

One of the consequences of Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet reshuffle – which you will not see mentioned in national media – is that John Swinney will no longer have government responsibility for the third sector; yet this is an event which I personally regret and believe merits wider acknowledgement. Since 2007, when the SNP formed its first administration, Swinney has been Scotland’s financial supremo; but, throughout this period, he has also, quietly, carried the portfolio for the third sector/social enterprise which must have been a task of personal choice. Never before in my lifetime has our sector enjoyed the stability of the same minister for 7 years – one who understands and cares about our work – one who is also in charge of the cash register! This quiet man, who watched our back, will be sorely missed. (Here he talks up Scottish SE in Oslo).


The Smith Commission reported yesterday on recommended new powers for Holyrood. All manner of pundits will now argue the merits of particular proposals – but you can’t help being impressed what it has achieved in just a few weeks. When 85% of the electorate mobilises – politicians get the message. David Torrance asks in the Guardian if the Smith package is coherent and stable enough to prevent May’s general election becoming a proxy indyref – I don’t think so. See,

The RIC event on the Clyde last Saturday seems to have been a triumph – and must have greatly encouraged the various threads of Radical Scotland. The big question remains – can they hold together sufficiently to offer voters a single radical platform for the 2016 Holyrood elections. If so, a radical coalition could well win enough seats to replace Labour as the parliament’s official opposition; just think – both government and opposition pro-independence – we truly live in an interesting time. (Here Adam Ramsay of Open Democracy discusses some possible scenarios). See,

A new report from the Cass Business School says that the ‘toxic’ and ‘aggressive’ culture inside British banks will take a generation to change. Some of us believe that this government lacks the commitment to enforce change. See, . Senscot is working with others to negotiate a special relationship between the Scottish third sector and Airdrie Savings Bank (ASB) – which is the only remaining independent savings bank in the UK. As a stakeholder bank (mutual) ASB is focused on the needs of customers and local economies – and is we believe a suitable match for the mission and values of our sector. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:

JOBS: Citizens Advice Scotland, Turning Point, EUSA, Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, Bloombox Salads, Remade in Edinburgh, Greener Leith,

EVENTS: Out of the Blue Christmas Market, 6 Dec; Portobello Market at Christmas, 6 Dec; Social Impact Measurement, 11 Dec; Facilitation Skills, 11 Dec;

TENDERS: Youth Counselling in Schools West Dunbartonshire, Aberdeenshire Council; One to One Day Service for Older People – Non Centre Based, City Of Edinburgh Council; Citizens and Money Advice Services 2015, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar;

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: The consultation process re producing a SE Strategy for Scotland continues. This process began at the CEiS event in September and culminated at this month’s SE Conference and Ceilidh. To date, over 400 people have contributed their thoughts and opinions on their vision for SE in Scotland over the coming years. Some of the themes to emerge are very much about building on what has been achieved over the last 10 years. They include: building on existing markets – public/private sector and general public; building capacity and capability – through investment, business support etc; building on potential – via schools; universities; engagement of young people; and building the ‘movement’ – better evidence, influence; co-operation, local delivery. If you have any bold/radical proposals to help SE in Scotland, there’s still time to email them to A draft document is scheduled for early/mid-January. See some pointers here,

For more SENs News, see

Our new First Minister stood tall as she announced her inaugural programme for Government on Wednesday – we all need a few days to digest it (a new Empowering Communities Fund?). Most encouraging are the early land reform proposals – even Andy Wightman calls them substantial and important – see, . Sturgeon promises an administration that is ‘open, listening, accessible and decentralising’. The first three have long been acknowledged hallmarks of SNP governance; but their policies have been the opposite of decentralising. See,

UK SE Awards in London on Wednesday evening saw two Scottish winners – Kilsyth Community Market Garden t/a Kelvin Valley Honey won the Environmental SE award; and Firstport & Icecream Architecture picked up the Inspiring Youth Enterprise Award. Congratulations to both. See more on the awards,

Reminder: ‘Enterprise and Collaboration – the way forward for community sport in Scotland’ – next Thursday, 4th Dec at Murrayfield Stadium. Over 100 folk have signed up already for this event. Sport SEN members can access discounted rate of £50pp. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Edinburgh that provides affordable, flexible childcare in the north of the city that includes pre-school care in its main centre as well as out of school care for 180 children in 6 local primary schools. North Edinburgh Childcare (NEC) was set up in 1997 by a group of local women to both provide local childcare services and also to enable local parents and carers to access increased opportunities for work, training or education. NEC has now been invited by Firstport to share the secret of its success by becoming a champion for its replication programme ‘Ditto’ – see, . For more on the work of North Edinburgh Childcare, see

Slowed right down on my recent Spanish trip – I often felt ‘full of sleep’ – a phrase from Yeats’ beautiful poem – ‘When You Are Old’. Reading it again, I am reminded how much I enjoy melancholy.

‘When You Are Old’ by William Butler Yeats.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book, and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; how many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true, but one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face; and bending down beside the glowing bars, murmur, a little sadly, how love fled and paced upon the mountains overhead and hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

That’s all for this week.     

Best wishes,



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