Senscot Bulletin: 31.05.13

Dear members and friends,

 The weather is consistently dreadful – but so far this year I lack the resolution to get myself to the sun; spare rooms on offer in both Italy and Spain – but increasingly I find the prospect of travel a deterrent.  Online booking, airports, airplanes, car hire, all harrowing and humiliating.  And when you get there – the room temperature is wrong, so is the mattress, the pillow, the shower, the radio, the phone etc. etc.  I enjoy my home – my preferred blend of coffee – from my familiar coffee machine – I enjoy my artisan bread – from my de luxe toaster – with a specialist bitter marmalade…  Also, living alone fosters a certain self-absorption – being a houseguest requires that we show appreciation; I just prefer to stay home.
 My friend brings her grandchild Zoe to visit this week, it’s a year since I saw the wee one – what a difference.  The look of ‘vacuous innocence’ has gone – she’s a 3 year old chatterbox – full of energy and curiosity – the beginnings of her own personality.  My teddy, she says – my blankey – my book; powerful identification with these simple objects is the normal transition to her own identity.  The thought occurs – that at the other end of life (my end) – this process of emergence goes into reverse; the ‘self’, so carefully fashioned, regresses back into identification with things: my room, my books, my pillow.  Perhaps our grasp of what’s going on returns to ‘vacuous innocence’.  But hey!  Not yet – not yet.  I’m checking the Malaga flights.

We still have copies of ‘Kindness’ – Laurence’s latest selection of bulletin intros (2007-12). If you’d like a copy, see

Mainstream economics assumes self-interest to be the overarching motive of all economic activity; social economics takes into consideration a wider range of factors: fairness, environment, equality etc; the common good rather than private gain. Senscot believes that social enterprise requires a financial infrastructure (including investment) which recognises its different values and purpose. We consider that third sector leaders, particularly in England, are in denial of the present aggressive encroachment, by the money markets, into our realm. As the third sector gets tangled up with the mainstream economy – paying dividends to investors – it becomes part of the private sector – a ‘new asset class’ – and risks losing the support (justifiably) of the general public. See,

So far the Scottish scene has been relatively remote from this controversy (above) – but our own Lottery has now decided to host ’roundtables’ on the subject. Their discussion paper doesn’t make it clear whether they are simply exploring the Scottish attitude to ‘for profit’ social investment – or whether this is their adopted direction of travel. As Mary Duffy said in her recent report, ‘Shining Armour or Sheep’s Clothing’: "In Scotland, there is a sense of cultural identity – deeply uncomfortable with idea of profit distribution applied to social impact work".   See,

Within a few weeks, the Scottish Community Banking (SCB) Steering Group will report on our investigations. One of our clearest findings is the difficulty in accessing loans at the smaller, riskier end. The ‘Mind the Funding Gap’ Report estimated the unmet need from social organisations to be in the order of £1.7bn. See, . This is the very market which CDFIs (Community Development Finance Institutions), like DSL in Scotland, have made their specialism. The above report explores the potential of loan guarantee structures for getting investment to less well- capitalised social ventures. Servicing this market requires subsidy – but it is value for money – because it gets help to start-ups. This article is about new pressure on CDFIs to abandon the small, risky end; the wholesale finance available to them – from Big Society Capital – is simply too expensive. See,

One thing about George Monbiot – he often challenges my view of normal. Here he sets out the thesis of his latest book, ‘Rewilding’ which calls for the mass restoration of ecosystems. As we become able to feed the world on less land – he wants great tracts to be returned to the wild – for our meso-fauna – bison, moose, wolves, bears. I’m not convinced. A golden eagle taking the occasional lamb is very different from sharing your hill farm with a pack of wolves. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: East Ayrshire Women’s Aid, One World Shop, Pollokshaws Community Project, Impact Arts, Voluntary Action Fund, Food Train, Edinburgh University Students’ Association
EVENTS: Portobello Market, Edinburgh, 1 Jun; Take One Action – The Family Breakfast, 1 Jun; West End Women’s Heritage Walk: West End Festival, 2 Jun; LeithLate, 13 Jun
TENDERS: Provision of PAT Service for Social Care & Social Work Improvement Scotland and Local Authority Food Waste Communications Support. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Eight (8) members of the Sport SEN attended the launch this week of the Robertson Trust’s ‘Community Sport and Enterprise Evaluation Learning Set: Final Impact Report’. The SEN members were sharing the experiences of their 2 year journey to explore "Evaluation".   All eight organisations now adopt a range of creative ways of measuring what they do – and now have the answer at their fingertips if anyone asks the ‘so what’ question in relation to any of their activities.  Perhaps the biggest measure of success for all concerned will be their ability to win tenders as well as attract grant funders – all of which help as they move towards greater sustainability. For more information, see report, For more Networks News, see

Looming up next month is the second Community Shops fortnight (15th – 29th June). Community Shops 2013 will celebrate the success of the 309 communities across the UK that saved their village shop through community ownership. Over 100 community-owned village shops are expected to take part in the celebrations, running events and raising awareness with customers and community members. See more,

In March, we reported another eminently sensible proposal from Harry Burns – Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer – that social enterprises should be introduced in prisons – to ignite in inmates the hope of good work. See,  I said at the time that Scotland’s Prison Service had a long way to go – but I may have been wrong. Burns cited the model of Homeboy from Los Angeles – who are in Scotland this week – in extensive talks with the ‘powers that be’ about a Scottish version called Braveheart; I’ll be happy to eat my words. See,

Scottish Govt, of late, has been big on encouraging active co-operation and collaboration between third sector organisations. Most folk would agree with this in theory – but putting it into practice is a different matter. Aberdeen Foyer and social care charity VSA look to be taking the initiative in this area. This week, they announced their intention to work together in the future either by collaboration, shared resources or through merger. The proposed combined venture would employ nearly 700 people – offering a diverse range of services to individuals and communities across the north east. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles and Edinburgh-based social enterprise that provides an access point for all kinds of possibilities in ceramics. Cyan Clayworks offers a range of services that include bespoke workshops, studio hire, technical support, transfer application and firing, tooling for production manufacture, project support for art students – plus anything else that clay based. Shortly, they intend to set up an online shopping facility. Cyan Clayworks is also a members of Edinburgh SEN. For more, see

This a passage from Jay Griffiths book ‘Wild’ – strange – compelling – beautiful.

"We need what is wild, we thrill to it. If a tiger stares right at you, wild lightning blast your heart. If you hear wild horses across the plains, then you feel their exultant gallop explode within you. I was walking up a bracken hillside in Wales recently and a horse picked its way nervously towards me and then stopped. I turned away from it not to frighten it, and waited. I could not hear it approach on the soft, fertile earth but suddenly I felt its breath on my neck, where my sweat scent curled up from my collar and my hair smelled of wheat. It sniffed me for ages and did not leave. It filled me with rapture. We crave these epiphanies because we are wild."

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