Senscot Bulletin: 30.10.15

Dear members and friends,


I spent my life as a pampered townie – the natural world banished by central heating, supermarkets, all mod cons. Then, for the past decade, I’ve lived in a country cottage on the edge of a great wood – surprised how much I enjoy living close to animals, trees, weather – growing food. I particularly notice the seasons now – like 50,000 generations of our ancestors; how intimately intertwined are the rhythms of the natural and human calendars. On Sunday, the clocks went back – and now light dims towards the winter solstice. For me, these are the most trying months – because the seasonal darkness can too easily slide into moods of pessimism; the doc calls it SAD –seasonal affective disorder.


I tried to get a flight to Malaga in October – but collided with half-term hols – daft prices. So I settled for Nov 2nd: off season hotel near Estepona – room looking out to sea – ‘wheels’ for my wee trips. Evenings and early mornings can be nippy here in November – but days are mostly in the 20s – soul lifting sunlight. I love to get into the autumn Andalucian countryside – sun-baked shades – ochres, cinnamons, terracottas. Countryfolk will still be collecting sweet chestnuts – and olives now and figs and all manner of harvests. And around the white villages of the Ronda mountains – I know timeless shepherds’ tracks where I can saunter alone. And I’ve learned which of the village inns take food seriously – present the traditional seasonal dishes with pride. Next bulletin from Espana!


It was a relief this week when the pressure of public opinion (with the help of The Lord’s) said ‘no’ to the govt. over reducing the income of low earners.  I saw a furious George Osbourne interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg; his undoing will be that he is an ideological fanatic.  I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I could lose £1300 annually without major sacrifice – there will be others like me; that’s how social democracy works.  But many of those targeted by this govt. measure have young families – simply can’t afford it – and that’s not fair.  As wages rise to a reasonable level – so tax credits will reduce. Private Eye carries a story that Osbourne’s father’s company – from sales of £200m – has avoided corporation tax for 7 years. The fiddles will be ‘legal’ of course – from sharp accountants; the poor, however, don’t have accountants.


I have always believed that the social enterprises with the most impact are the locally owned ones – which serve an actual place: what we call community enterprises.  This year the English Lottery endowed a new £150m charitable Trust called The Power to Change; it has the specific purpose of providing funding and support for community enterprises.  The Trust’s website is refreshingly unhyped – none of the usual London hokum about impact investment, hybrid structures etc.  It states its simple intention to offer substantial capital and revenue grants to bona fide community endeavour.  I wonder if the Big Lottery Scotland committee agrees that this is exactly where the action is going to be.


I have long been interested in hyperlocal media (community newspapers when I was doing it).  The proposal in September, that the BBCcould supply 100 reporters and a national data hub for local newspapers, revisited a theme that I have explored for years!  How can third sector organisations of scale – eg. a big housing association – an employability contractor – a care provider etc. – how can they best relate to small local organisations.  Any fool could simply gobble them up – but how could the resources of scale be deployed to foster a thriving, diverse community sector.  Someone should write a paper on this. Again.


The people of Gullane in East Lothian, have been trying for years to establish a walkway directly to Drem, where the Edinburgh train stops. There is a problem with right of access around fields – a stand off situation which will be replicated a thousand times over around Scotland. With the current Land Reform Bill, the SNP Govt has the opportunity to reset the balance between private ownership – and the common good rights over land. Indeed this issue is increasingly seen as a measure of where the SNP sits politically.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Social Investment Scotland, Dumbarton Road Corridor Environment Trust, Money Matters Money Advice Centre, Glasgow Bike Station, New Caledonian Woodlands, City of Edinburgh Council
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 7 Nov; Coalfields Community Challenge, 6 Nov; Entrepreneurs Chat Show, 18 Nov; Social Finance: Social Investment: Social Banking – What makes them Social, 19 Nov
TENDERS: Corporate Resource Partner to Assist Change / Provision of Room Booking & Parents Evening Appointment Systems – East Renfrewshire Council, Occupational Health Services – The Highland Council, Supporting Individuals and Families Affected by Substance Misuse in South Lanarkshire and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  Tuesday saw the meeting of the Cross Party Group on Social Enterprise at the Parliament. The event focussed primarily on the findings of the recent SE Census. This has been the most extensive piece of research done to date on the size and scale of SE in Scotland and will act as a benchmark in the years ahead. There are many impressive stats – but, most of all, it paints a picture of a sector made up of small enterprises – 60% turning over less than £100k. How they are to be supported over the coming years is the important question facing our Govt as well as the sector itself – where the reality of the needs of the sector has to outweigh the rhetoric. Senscot, with many others, has been and continues to work of shaping the SE Vision in Scotland. As we look to establishing a series of action points, it will be important agree on approaches that genuinely address the issues our Census has thrown up.


Only a handful of places left for our SE Conference and Ceilidh on 12TH/13TH Nov at the Westerwood Hotel. If you’d like to come along – here’s the programme see here and you can book your place here.


Though quite willing to become outraged by David Cameron’s EVEL measures (English Votes for English Laws) – I must confess my ignorance of the details. Good post this week from Lallands Peat Worrier (Yes campaigner) which is the clearest explanation I’ve read. In his view, the changes to the House of Commons Standing Orders are a ‘feeble and milquetoast innovation’ which he’s ‘not prepared to pop a kidney over’. It’s a different and interesting perspective.


The October issue of the SCRT Bulletin is now available – including stories on the Govanhill Pound; a review of impact and effectiveness of social investment; charities and public procurement; as well as news on the appointment of Airdrie Savings Bank’s (ASB) Business Development ManagerNiall Alexander takes up post in mid-November. Niall’s appointment is a signal of ASB’s commitment to deepen its engagement with the SE and wider third sector in Scotland. SCRT is also holding its first Conference on 19th Nov in Edinburgh. Senscot is sponsoring 6 places for SEN members. To book one of these, email


Last week, our bulletin featured a piece on the founding of the European Social Enterprise Law Association and its pre-launch report. The report recommends resisting any temptation to establish a pan-european legal form – with each country being encouraged to create its own guidelines. It does, however, leave the door open for ‘share companies in which social purpose is primary and profit is secondary’. Be interesting to see how anyone is going to measure that? In Scotland, the SE Code seems to have become our benchmark with over 650 organisations currently subscribing. To subscribe, see here


This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Ayrshire that provide children with outdoor learning experiences through forest and beach sessions for school and community groups; summer, autumn and easter holiday camps; as well as birthday parties. Wild Outside is a CIC, set up by two Forest School Practitioners, and based at the Scottish Agricultural College near Ayr – where there is a dedicated forest school site. Wild Outside’s activities include: Den Building; Campfire Building and Cookery; Forest and Beach Art Tree Climbing; Tool Use; and Wildlife and Environmental Investigation. As a CIC ltd by guarantee, they have been set up so that profits are re-invested in community-based programmes rather than shareholders.
Every Tuesday, I get an email from Nipun Metha, whom I’ve never met – but always read. It speaks to the part of us all which is inner rather than outer – giving rather than getting.  Metha recently gave an inspiring TED talk which he summarises here:


"Can we create social change without money? Just holding that question can raise some very interesting insights. In theory, our society is supposed to balance our three big sectors. The private sector, the voluntary sector and the public sector. Each has its purpose and, in theory, it works. But in practice, money has become such a driving force that we have started to put a price tag on everything. And the problem with price tags is that we start to lose connection with the priceless. We start to lose connection with our intrinsic motivations. What designs would emerge if we don’t lead with money? What designs emerge when we lead with something subtler or something internal? These questions open up a whole new realm that can change the fundamental way in which we relate to each other." See full video and text here.


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