Senscot Bulletin: 30.01.15

Dear members and friends,


My friend Louise owed the bank £2m – secured over a small group of pubs. Last year she couldn’t meet interest payments – so the bank restructured them – gave her 24 hours to accept new terms; but she concluded that the level of debt made the business not viable. A brewer agreed to advance her £1m – which she offered to the bank – on condition that they forgave the other £1m; otherwise she would walk away. The bank agreed – wrote off £1m.
            This seems more or less the position of the Greek Government – its level of debt is unsupportable – write off half – lift restrictions – or we’ll walk away. I watched the joy on the streets of Athens on Sunday evening – felt some of it; such hope and belief that they can bring great change. What if others follow their defiance – Portugal, Spain, Italy etc; the young people of Europe – a lost generation – fighting back.
            I have never been a political revolutionary – I’m a progressive social democrat – comfortable with the utopian vision of the Green Party; a just, mutualist society – respect for everyone and for the life of our planet. But the ruinous ideology of neo-liberalism – which continues to debase our institutions and our communities – shows no sign of receding; it doesn’t even have serious opposition. The disrupters like Syriza and Podemos argue that it’s time to say no to the bankers; that no matter what emerges from the ensuing chaos – can’t be worse than now: what’s to lose, they say (Owen Jones was over in Greece), see


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


In continental Europe – Spain, France, Italy etc – there is a statutory layer of democracy close to communities; citizens can elect their own people – familiar with local issues – to serve as representatives. It is because this tier is missing in Scotland, that our communities are remote from power. Our upcoming Community Empowerment Bill was an opportunity to address this deficit – but it has deliberately avoided doing so (political decision) and, for that reason, I can’t see its purpose. During the Bill’s formative period – some politicians (e.g. Derek McKay) made bold promises – but SNP ‘centralisers’ prevailed. Parliamentary committees are presently identifying the Bill’s weaknesses – but it’s only tinkering.  See,


The press and media in the UK is owned by the same people who own everything else – can be relied on only to represent the interests of rich people; even the BBC is increasingly perceived as an establishment voice. But during the indyref ‘emergence’ – Scotland gave birth to a healthy alternative journalism on the internet: as the dust settles, it will become apparent which bits of this shifting landscape will endure. Delighted to see this week that Commonweal’s ‘commonspace’ site is fully operational – a fresh, rolling news and politics service. See,


Scotland is well served by land reform campaigners – Andy Wightman, Lesley Riddoch, Alistair McIntosh, Jim Hunter etc – we could field a world class eleven. The leading lights have formed a ‘collective of activists’ and launched the Scottish Land Action Movement (SLAM) with a new website – take a look A similarly impressive array of campaigners is building – for the introduction to a modern structure of local democracy in Scotland; but they have not yet taken the critical step of forming ‘a collective of activists striving for the same goal’. If someone takes the initiative, Senscot will join. See,


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Bloombox Salads, Midlothian Financial Inclusion Network, CEiS, Bruntsfield Community Greengrocers, GMAC Film, Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, Glasgow Bike Station,
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 7 Feb; Social Enterprise Insights, 12 Feb; Social Impact Measurement, 19 Feb; Community Shares Scotland – Aberdeen Roadshow, 24 Feb; An Introduction to Tendering, 25 Feb;
TENDERS: Management & Self Evaluation Service of the SG Self-directed Support (SDS), Capacity Building Fund; Employability and Skills Pipeline Procurement Framework, North Ayrshire Council; 7 Golden Rules for Participation – a short film commission, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People;   


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Senscot joined a delegation – along with Social Firms Scotland, Scottish Govt and the Social Enterprise Academy – in Brussels this week to participate in the closing conference of the EU Social Entrepreneurship Network (EU SEN). 14 members states have contributed and this week’s The Conference saw publication of its findings and recommendations, titled: ‘Policy meets practice – enabling the growth of social enterprises’ – which focuses on a) detailed recommendation on how EU funds can best support SE and b) examples of good practice that can be replicated across member states. The Report identifies 15 key recommendations for policy makers to support social entrepreneurship across the member states. See,   For more SENs News, see


Pauline Hinchion (SCRT) is out visiting SENs – Edinburgh SEN (today); Glasgow SEN (4th Feb); and West Lothian SEN (11th Feb) – giving the lowdown on SCRT’s activities and objectives. As part of this, Pauline is hoping to build the membership of SCRT as one of its primary aims is to be an organisation that is run ‘by and for the sector’. Membership is FREE – and open to all independent third sector organisations in Scotland. You can sign up here, If you would like Pauline to come along and meet with your group or organisation, contact


Support for start-up social entrepreneurs and their enterprises has never been greater. Following Scottish Govt’s recent announcement of an additional £500k for the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, being administered by Firstport – see,  – there is news this week of another programme of support. The School for Social Entrepreneurs and Lloyds Bank are coming together to offer start-up (£4k) and Scale-Up (£15K) programmes that include learning support and business mentorship. Taster sessions in Scotland will take place in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Stirling. Applications open on Monday 2nd Feb. See details here,


In Uffe Elbaek, Lesley Riddoch’s Nordic Horizons has booked an inspirational speaker for the first event of their 2015 programme. The Danish MP is an entrepreneur, activist and writer. This is from a piece he did for The Guardian. “Today the world and our ability to shape it is literally in our hands. We can criticise, disrupt, collaborate, share at the touch of a few keys. The new rules of this epochal shift go with the grain of a good society precisely because, in a flattened world, we talk and participate as equals. That’s why the post-1945 social settlement could never hold, because it was built on well-meaning but hierarchical institutions”.


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise that will begin trading in March and will offer a range of support, skills and training to look after children in Fife. Based in Methil, Bridging Futures will provide workshops, courses and tutorials in over 80 subjects for over 800 looked after children and teenagers and over 1,000 young carers in Fife. Courses will cover employability; social skills; health and well-being; and budgeting and financial planning. Bridging Futures will be working in partnership with local agencies such as Fife Council, Skills Development Scotland, Young Enterprise Scotland, Brag Enterprise, SES and Police Scotland. For more, see


There is much about Charles Bukowski’s writing to take exception to – I often do – but always return.
His uncompromising bluntness sits alongside great sensitivity. Here he reflects on being a writer.
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” 
That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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