Senscot Bulletin: 29-02-08

Dear members and friends,

In bed this morning with a mild flu – sneezing, coughing, sore and tired – drifting in and out of sleep – a dreaming `Lemsip` day. When I was younger, dreams were full of campaigns – triumphs and defeats – now I hardly know what I dream – just fragments. I often wake with a sadness, as though my unconscious is leading me back to some private grief that has not been acknowledged. I saw this quote:’ When we mourn our losses, we also mourn for ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As one day we will not be at all.’ This feels true. Part of us knows that all we hold dear will disappear. Death is not something we can make sense of.
 There is a storm outside and my mood is darkening with the sky – so I’ll read Raymond Chandler. His hero, Philip Marlow, helps me feel brave. A solitary, sardonic man – hard but sympathetic. He is skint because he is incorruptible and he always faces up to the bad men. I see him in a lonely street, in lonely rooms, puzzled but never quite defeated.
 Woken by rain slapping my window – clock says 14.14. Lie watching the giant ewe tree across the way dancing in a fierce squall. Suddenly, the wind pauses – a shaft of sunlight – the majestic tree, for a few moments – poised, still, shining – as if lit from within. More and more I find that trees have the power to move me to a sense of wonder – to the realisation that I am just one thing among many – and this awareness brings peace.

The Voice 08 conference in Liverpool this week brought the expected flurry of ministerial announcements about new initiatives to assist social enterprise – how marvellous we all are. The relevant links are posted here for fellow enthusiasts . However, here are two ‘cautionary’ pieces which caught my eye this week. A short, well written piece by Rob Greenland in the Guardian which looks beyond the ‘comic strip portrayals’ of top-end social enterprises to the reality on the ground, where most social enterprises struggle to get by. Greenland has worked in front line social enterprises and he’s in no way cynical, but, like me, he thinks the unrealistic hype can be harmful. Another dose of realism from a new report from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) which finds that ‘social enterprises are unlikely to achieve financial sustainability and it is unreasonable to expect them to do so.’ It says that there are tensions between social and financial aims – it’s important that these are acknowledged.

Our Scottish delegation to Voice08 found that a surprising number of social enterprise networks are active across England – regionally and locally. Colin reports that there is a definite appetite for UK wide links and this offers exciting opportunities for future learning and trading. SE intermediaries fulfil a role (Senscot is one) but there is no substitute for communication between first line practitioners

This ‘front line focus’ is also the core ethos of LPL – the campaign for strong and independent communities – which published its latest briefings this week.  Last Friday, LPL got a ‘No’ from the Lottery – bit of a blow to morale for a few days. But back in the ‘real’ world the momentum of the campaign continues to build – with nearly 700 registered supporters, including 223 community organisations. It does make me wonder, though, if BIG is really attuned to new stuff.
Over 100 people have now responded to Senscot`s annual appeal for donations. Your contributions are very much appreciated. Also, a good number have taken up the opportunity of becoming company members. The appeal will run for another 3 weeks, again, for all of you who have `nearly` sent a cheque. Link for details

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 
JOBS: 20 vacancies, incl. posts with: Forth Sector, Blake Stevenson Ltd, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Social Enterprise Academy, Routes to Work South, Norris Green Youth Centre
EVENTS: 16 events, Mental Health Awareness, 15 Mar, Kirkcaldy; More than Recycling 08, 11 Mar, Perth; S2S Third Annual Social Enterprise Trade Fair, 23 Apr, Dundee

Networks 1st: Just back from Voice 08 in Liverpool with a group from the Networks. Gordon Brown addressed the 500 or 600 of us gathered there, via a mega video link. Good presentations from Campbell Robb (Office of the Third Sector) who understands Asset Lock(!) and, also, from Arunesh Singh from the Scojo Foundation’s program in India – a kind of Big Issue with Specs. For more, see weekly update

The transfer of ‘serious’ buildings (like surplus schools) to community ownership and management, is restricted by the lack of skills and confidence within community groups. Hazel Blears said this week that there is a role for the private sector alongside communities in such ventures with benefits to both parties. There is increasing acceptance among Senscot’s contacts in the field that there can be benefit in social enterprise partnering private businesses. Scotland’s Social Enterprise Coalition has published a book of examples which are working.

Did you know that this year The International Social Enterprise Conference and World Forum is going to be held in Scotland? The event ‘will bring together 450 social enterprise leaders, practitioners & champions from around the world to share best practice, network like crazy and plan for the future.’
It will take place in Edinburgh from 2nd-5th September. CEiS are organizing things with the support of the Government, Scottish Enterprise, HIE and other overseas partners. You can book your place now. See

This week’s bulletin profiles an organisation in Fife that manufactures quality hand-made furniture. Rainbow Crafts, based in the Crosshill Business Centre, has been on the go since 1993. They provide integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities as well as training and work experience for young people excluded from mainstream schooling. At the moment, Rainbow has a vehicle for sale – a 2006 Renault Master Van. For more, see

Sufferers from depression (a quarter of us) will be interested in this piece by psychiatrist, Paul Keedwell, who argues that our black moods are for a purpose – a kind of protest that can bring benefit.

‘To explain why depression has not been ‘bred out’ through Darwinian natural selection, theories have suggested that rather than being a defect, depression could be a defence against the chronic stress that misguided people can put themselves under. It is possible that depression defends us against the tendency to deny our true needs by chasing unobtainable goals and helps to bring these needs into sharper focus. More specifically, the proposed benefits are as follows: removal from a stressful situation, introspection, problem solving, the development of a new perspective, and reintegrating this with the community upon recovery.
This sequence is repeated in the legends, myths, tribal beliefs, and religions of the world that tell the story of solitary exploration in adversity leading to personal growth.’

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

Best wishes,

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