Senscot Bulletin: 30-03-2007

Dear members and friends,

Been a bit despondent lately – probably the weather – a longing for spring – for blue sky and sunlight. My mood shows in how crabbit I’ve been. Sunday flight to London – guy next to me taking my space – eventually challenge him, with a look of such rage that he cowers away. Hotel porter can’t get room heater to work – young manager, sharp enough to discern my anger, finds a new room. In London to meet magazine editor to discuss role as Scotland correspondent. She’s the epitome of London arrogance – after ten minutes I stand up: ‘I’m not going to bother with this.’ At lunch, couple at next table light fags – outraged that the ban hasn’t reached here yet, noisily move tables. I don’t like being crabbit. The ‘official’ version of myself, rehearsed over the years for use in public, is meant to be like Philip Marlowe – calm, sardonic, brave, kind. But it feels more like Victor Meldrew.
At its core, the human condition is solitary, private – but most of our internal life is so dull, there’s nothing to be said about it. Whenever I try to follow the flow of my thoughts, it’s mostly rubbish – self-obsessed – mundane. So we look for distraction – something to take us ‘out of ourself’. But I find some compensation in growing older. More content to stay still – more comfortable with ephemera. The challenge becomes to feel the significance of life while accepting its essential banality.

Aidan was at the launch yesterday of ‘Better Business: a strategy and action plan for social enterprise in Scotland’. This was a great relief to our emerging sector and we should ‘mention in dispatches’ the civil servants whose determination beat the election shut-down – I didn’t think they’d make it. One year from now a new political administration will have bedded in and the comprehensive spending review will have reported – that’s the time to make our 3 year plans. But this document with its £1.5m funding means that for the next 12 months momentum can continue to build – the infrastructure can continue to be shaped – gridlock has been avoided.  

It must be 10 years since Charles Leadbeater wrote ‘the Rise of the Social Entrepreneurs’ which introduced the term to so many of us. Last Sunday, he reflected in the Observer on how this movement has evolved – what he got right – and wrong. I agree with his view that social entrepreneurs should be seen as a mass movement – not an elite of individual superstars.

Communities across Scotland are increasingly aware of the importance of owning their own ‘anchor organisation’ to co-ordinate and lead local development. This could be a local community enterprise – a housing association – or increasingly a development trust. Since its launch in 2004, DTA Scotland has grown to 92 full members (and 26 associates) but these are predominantly in rural areas. To expand into Scottish cities, DTAS is recruiting a second development officer. See job advert The DTAS Annual Conference acts as a national rally for the movement. This year’s Gathering will be held in Dumfries on the 10th/11th June. Worth getting in the diary.

The Scottish election campaign will now gather pace towards the 3rd May. For information on what the various parties say about the Third Sector I find the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition’s stuff useful. Jon Molyneux (SSEC Policy Officer), who has his finger on the pulse, will be producing a comparative extract from the various manifestos as they are published – which we’ll circulate. In the meantime, the Coalition is hosting a ‘hustings’ at Perth Concert Hall on the 25 April – the evening before S2S. Impressive line-up:

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: 27 vacancies, incl. posts with: North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, Theatre Nemo, Snowsport Scotland, DTA Scotland, Argyll & Bute Social Enterprise Network, Edinburgh Woodcraft Folk

EVENTS: 11 events, incl. Developing Community Assets, Glasgow, April 19; SURF Small Town regeneration seminar, Edinburgh, May 15;

Our annual call for donation ends today – with a grand total of £4603 from 129 subscribers. Here’s the final list of company members: Many thanks.

BIGinvest, A specialist finance company founded by The Big Issue is seeking social enterprises in need of investments of between £50,000 and £500,000:

Colin’s work with local Social Enterprise Networks around the country continues apace with meetings taking place this week in Aberdeen, Moray and the Borders. A new Network is getting set up in Moray and, in the Borders, the Chief Executive of Borders Council spoke of the exciting possibilities for the future offered by social enterprise.

The potential for social enterprise in the health and social care fields is taken very seriously in England and it’s frustrating to report that once again Scotland’s policy makers just don’t get it. The English Social Enterprise Coalition, along with Hempson’s Solicitors, has produced a high quality new report – ‘Healthy Business’ features nine in-depth case studies and is recommended to anyone interested in these emerging markets and fresh approaches to service delivery:
Without the benefit of a bespoke unit within the NHS in Scotland, and a £74m development fund, activity up here is lagging but Senscot along with the Forum for Public Health is hosting a conference following last year’s event in Stirling. ‘fit for purpose – social enterprise and health improvement’ will take place on 12th September at the Trades Hall in Glasgow. More information to follow.

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Kingussie that provides training, support and employment opportunities for adults with learning disabilities in the Badenoch and Strathspey area. Caberfeidh Horizons has also opened a book shop – the First Class Secondhand Bookshop – with the intention of providing employment experience for adults with learning difficulties as well as for youngsters from the local High School. Premises were purchased in the local High Street and the Bookshop is now open for business. For more info, see

‘On the beach at night alone, as the old mother sways her to and fro, singing her husky song, as I watch the bright stars shining—I think a thought of the clef of the universes, and of the future.
A vast similitude interlocks all, all spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets, comets, asteroids, all the substances of the same, and all that is spiritual upon the same, all distances of place, however wide, all distances of time—all inanimate forms, all Souls—all living bodies, though they be ever so different, or in different worlds, all gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes—the fishes, the brutes, all men and women—me also; all nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages; all identities that have existed, or may exist, on this globe, or any globe; all lives and deaths—all of the past, present, future; this vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d, and shall forever span them, and compactly hold them, and enclose them.’ (Walt Whitman)

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

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available See: