Senscot Bulletin: 29.01.16

Dear members and friends,

Mains gas never reached our hamlet – oil heating – electric light and plugs. Following a year of estimated accounts – ScottishPower reads meter – sends statement; I have overpaid by £1,010 – but they want me to continue paying £82 per month. Angry! Google for new supplier – Good Energy site pops up; type in my phone number – within 2 minutes I’m chatting to an actual human being. The 1442 KWh I used last year would cost £25 monthly – using entirely renewable energy. Instruct switch over – feel disproportionately satisfied – empowered.
The Hewlett Packard printer installed at home is annoyingly assertive – tries to bully me. Both black and colour ink cartridges cost £33 each – don’t need colour so it’s set to black only option. This week it refuses to print unless I replace colour ink – in other words it’s a scam. Energy suppliers and printers are only two examples (from hundreds) of aggressive business models which operate unashamedly against public interest. I’ve paid the £33 (extorted!) but when I’ve researched a replacement – that printer’s toast.
When Senscot started in 1999 – we were around 100 people – innovators who saw in advance the potential of social enterprise: businesses trading expressly for the benefit of people and the environment. We now have 3894 subscribers. In an interview this week with Holyrood Magazine – Scotland’s financial supremo, John Swinney, speaks of the ‘focus and priority’ he has consciously given to the growth of our movement. Inspired! No-one suggests that corporate greed is in decline – but, in Scotland, a different way of doing business is taking hold.


For my entire span as a community worker (40 years) – the Community Development Foundation (CDF), particularly in England, has been the dominant intermediary; the news that it is to close with reserves of £1.47m is extraordinary and courageous.  In the coming weeks, I’ll follow with interest the unfolding comment – but my initial analysis is a simple one – highly relevant to the third sector in these times.  In my view the CDF sailed too close to govt. – delivering major state programmes; as a consequence it lost its independence – its soul- became vulnerable to political whim.  This is a difficult issue for all of us – because public contracts offer the illusion of security – but at what cost.  Your organisation becomes part of the apparatus ultimately under the direction of the state – and its value to civil society is diminished. Senscot will be hosting a debate on this issue at our AGM. See details


Each year, Senscot invites financial donations from readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin.  Traditionally, around 100 individuals give an average of £25 to become full company members. Senscot’s board is elected by and is accountable to these members. We also invite donations from individuals or organisations who simply want to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or to donate, see members page .


I love to read the sayings of the former Uruguayan President Jose ‘Abuelo Pepe’ Mujica – dubbed ‘the poorest president in the world’.  He said that people who love wealth should dedicate themselves to commerce, but should be rooted out of politics – because they view everything through the perspective of money; he said that representative democracy means rule by the majority – who are not wealthy.  Mujica lives with his wife (and 3 legged dog) on a wee farm outside Montevideo – and, while President, donated most of his salary to charity.


Most of the Brits I meet on the Costa del Sol make little attempt to learn Spanish – content to live in ‘ex pat’ enclaves.  Whatever their Andalucian hosts think of this, they are overwhelmingly courteous people; yet our prime minister feels the need to warn Muslim women that their welcome in England is conditional on language skills.  When my family arrived in the UK in 1922 without a word of English – they didn’t need to be told to learn the language.  It’s this mind boggling arrogance of the British ruling class that many of us are impatient to distance ourselves from.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: The Larder Cookery School, The Amos Scripture Care Trust, Lifelink, RAMH, Young Scot, North Glasgow Housing Association, Kilmartin Museum, Highland Wholefoods Workers Co-operative
EVENTS: Tendering for Practitioners – Glasgow, 2 Feb; Charitable Trading Seminar, 3 Feb; Fundraising – Make it Happen: Scottish Borders, 3 Feb; The first Portobello Market of 2016, 6 Feb;
TENDERS: Community Based Housing Support (Mental Health) – Scottish Borders Council, Youth Project – Scottish Borders Council, Digital Marketing Support – Skills Development Scotland, Framework Agreement for Improvement Associates working on Health and Social Care Integration and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Last month, we mentioned that we were carrying out a review of activity around the thematic SENs. We are just about at the end of this process and will be sharing further information with SEN members in the weeks ahead. The gist of this refreshed approach will see, we hope, each thematic SEN prioritising specific areas of activity. This is, in part, to make best use of the resources at our disposal but also in attempt to provide more effective support and assistance to members of these respective SENs. Some examples include: Health – Health & Social Care Integration; Food Poverty; Sport for Change; and Tourism. In addition, we will be hosting a series (5 or 6) joint thematic events around the country in partnership with local SENs. Further information over the coming weeks.


Senscot will be holding its 16th AGM on Friday 4th March at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh (10.30 – 1.30pm). Prior to the AGM, we will be hosting a discussion session looking at “the implications – challenges, opportunities and risks – for social enterprise and the third sector in playing an increasing role in public service delivery”. Our keynote speaker on the day will be Barry Knight from Centris – the Centre for Research and Innovation in Social Policy Ltd. Barry has, in the past, worked as an advisor to UK Govts on economic development and the third sector. To book your place – see Booking Form


Contacted by Living Solutions in Fife, who would be interested in working with other social enterprises operating in the field of affordable housing.  Manufacturing mass timber systems – how can they get the cost within reach of people on low incomes; can ‘let to buy’ or ‘self-build’ schemes be tweaked to reduce the build cost.  If collaborating SEs could crack this one there would be major public benefit – high potential market.  Contact


The January SCRT Bulletin is now available. Stories this month include: social enterprises co-supporting each other – through surplus capital; Social Value Lab’s latest report – ‘Better Business-Better Scotland’; and other social finance stories from across the UK and abroad. SCRT will also be holding its first AGM on Wed 2nd March in Glasgow. Further details and venue to follow.


With the Land Reform Bill currently going through Parliament, Community Land Scotland – the membership body for Scotland’s community landowners – has recently published a list of ‘10 big asks’ which they believe will strengthen the Bill. These have been circulated that to all parties in advance of May’s Scottish elections – urging them to consider including them in their respective manifestos.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Edinburgh, and ESEN member, whose focus is to help prepare and support people with learning disabilities secure employment in the retail sector. All Together Edinburgh (ATE) started in 2010 and operates from premises on Leith Walk – providing services and facilities within a charity shop environment where people can learn a range of retail and work skills. These are all designed to increase people’s chances of employment or for moving onto further education as well as helping to build confidence and self-esteem. All monies raised by the retail outlet are re-invested back into the shop for training purposes and also with the intention of opening other shops in the Edinburgh area. 


‘For a’ that’ by Robert Burns is one of the most beautiful poems/songs of all time; it’s honouring of simple human dignity before the posturings of rank. It was memorably sung by Sheena Wellington at the opening of the new Scottish Parliament in 1999: part of Scottishness.

“What though on hamely fare we dine, wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
 Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine; A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
 For a’ that, and a’ that, their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor, is king o’ men for a’ that.


Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord, Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word, he’s but a coof for a’ that:
 For a’ that, an’ a’ that, His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind, he looks an’ laughs at a’ that.”



That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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