Senscot Bulletin: 31-03-2006

Dear members and friends,

It’s been an unrelenting winter of death and grieving. The funeral I attended last week was a particularly sore one: this friend was younger – still much left undone, much to give and get. It was a non-religious ceremony – some of us taking turns to share our thoughts. But I couldn’t find the right words to say how much this man’s friendship meant to me. Our culture lacks the language to talk easily of love between men. On the mantelpiece I’ve put a happy snapshot from 20 years ago. We’re sitting on grass – in summer evening sunlight – holding beer bottles – locked in intense conversation about the elusive meaning of life.
 The sky has turned dark and unnatural this afternoon. From the window I’m watching Jackie from the farm digging a hole for a fence post. He must be 60, but he’s strong – worked the land all his life. Every so often he stops and leans on his spade – slowing his heartbeat – then goes on. But the pauses get longer – and now the drizzle has come and he’s chucked it. This makes me melancholy.
 It’s dreich today, but soon the spring will come and the sweet air will fill our lungs again. I’ll walk the shore and sit for hours in the sand-dunes in front of the sea. And from time to time, with the stillness a peace comes.

The American model of a social entrepreneur is typically someone who has made their pile in business and who transfers over to some branch of philanthropy. In the UK, social entrepreneurs may or may not engage with the financial mainstream, but it is a secondary issue. The reason I don’t attend the Skoll ‘circus’ at Oxford each year is because of the implicit veneration of personal wealth – the invasion of the American fixation on money and markets. I have seen occasional businesses where there is no tension between profit and social justice – but let’s not pretend that, as attached interview says, there is anything ‘radical’ about ‘sooking up’ to the corporate sector.

When, as a trustee, I was told UnLtd was co-publishing a book about social entrepreneurs – I groaned. Not another of these ‘we are the peepul’ cringes! But it’s turned out to be a cracker – real life, first person stories of 20 outstanding individuals who have done the business. Real insight – highly recommended:

Last week it seemed obvious and uncontroversial – that following the English DTI example, Business Gateway in Scotland should adopt lead responsibility for the support of social enterprises (just like any small business). Scottish Enterprise has reviewed its engagement with social enterprises and has undertaken to instill more consistency across the network. After a week of scare stories, it now seems that Scottish Enterprise will honour this commitment. Whether or not it wished to is another question. (  

Senscot recently commissioned a survey looking at the support needs of social enterprises in Scotland. 111 social enterprises from across the country responded. We’re posting the Executive Summary with a link to the full report on the website. Some of the recurring themes and recommendations include support from experienced practitioners and greater co-ordination of support services amongst both statutory and intermediaries sector. Most striking of all, perhaps, is the perceived lack of support for social enterprises who are neither start-up nor established. This category appears to fall between two stools, neither appealing to Intermediaries nor Business Gateway. See

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs ( or events ( and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 40 vacancies, incl. posts with: Impact Arts, West Dunbartonshire Social Inclusion Partnership, Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens, Scottish Community Diet Project ,‘The Skinny’ magazine.

EVENTS: Imagine Community Planning that Works – workshops, Edinburgh and Glasgow, April and May; Affordable Housing in Scotland conference, Edinburgh, 8 May; DTA Scotland conference, Dundee, 5 June.

Senscot’s Exchange has handled over 1,000 personal responses since its inception in Autumn 2004. For more information on this free service, visit:

S2S, Scotland’s first national Social Enterprise Trade Fair will take place in Perth on 25 April. Fifty social enterprise exhibitors of all shapes and sizes will gather to network and showcase and sell their goods and services. Hundreds of delegates are expected.  

Regeneration agencies should be able to pay benefit claimants a ‘community allowance’ the government was told this week. The ‘Create’ scheme proposes volunteers be exempt from benefit clawback for taking on roles such as running school crossing patrols or taking part in environmental projects. £92bn a year is said to be being paid out in benefits that could be harnessed for valuable work to transform deprived communities. Fear of losing benefit entitlement is currently a disincentive.

Assist Social Capital, run by our Colin Campbell, holds its first Conference this year at the Trades Hall in Glasgow on 9th June. The maim speaker is Dr Tom Sanders from the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University. The Saguaro Seminar was set up to develop tools for measuring social capital and for developing strategies research on social capital. They have been advising the US Government since 9/11. For further info’, contact Colin Campbell at

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise operating a recycling service for businesses in Edinburgh – including Senscot. LEEP Recycling, which is part of the sustainable development charity LEEP, aims to make recycling at work easy, convenient and cost effective, offering four different collection boxes: paper, confidential paper, cans and plastic bottles. Other office waste, including cardboard, can also be collected. LEEP Recycling currently provides a service for around 1000 businesses in Edinburgh and hopes to double that figure in the year ahead. This week sees the launch of a local advertising campaign and mailshot to 4000 local businesses. For further info’, see        

We’ve been posting extracts from some of the central statements to the Waldzell Meeting at Melk Abbey in Austria last September. Here’s a piece from Thom Mayne, a world-renowned architect. He argues for a move a way from metaphysical belief systems towards a convergence of values around sustaining the physical survival of our world.
 “As to the future, I would say this: Believe in your initial instincts, because when you are young, you have less knowledge, but you have certain instincts. The world of art is somewhat subjective, and somewhat complicated and somewhat isolated from society. Something very deep comes out of knowing yourself. So you have to believe in yourself completely and follow your instincts because you have nothing else. There is no choice.”
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.

Best wishes,

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