Senscot Bulletin: 31.10.08

Dear members and friends,

In Marbella`s Puerto Banus, there’s an Indian restaurant called Mumtaz which overlooks the yachts of the superrich. Last month, enjoying our usual chicken bhuna, we watched a spectacular party on a big Russian boat. The glitterati arriving in limos – uniformed waiters proffering goodies – helicopters shuttling guests to and from a hacienda a few minutes into the mountains. Scores of beautiful men and women – gorgeous clothes – yet my particular memory is of the security men – ex military hoods – armed killers.
 Mandelson and Osborne should not be cavorting in the split-off world of billionaires – too dodgy. That kind of money places people beyond the reach of democracy – a law unto themselves – while their secret empires feed parasitically on the trust and social capital of the real world. If I was restructuring the economic order, there would be no more billionaires. The only safe repository for power is with the people.
 Two elections next week – Tuesday USA –Thursday Glenrothes. I feel the tingle of excitement like at big football matches. Barak Obama, poor man, carries the almost unsupportable burden of our hope for a gentler world – the forces of darkness may kill him. In Glenrothes, my hope is that the Fifers will continue Scotland’s journey towards independence from London. Those who dwell on the economics of home rule miss the point – this is not a pragmatic issue. The poet and politician, Vaclav Havel said, ‘Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well – but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.’ See end quote

Disgusted at OSCR’s ruling on whether posh schools meet the criteria for charitable status. The Scottish Charities Act 2005 makes it clear that a condition of eligibility is that general public access to any charitable provision must not be `unduly restrictive`.  In this review of a second batch of schools, George Heriots and Gordonstoun have passed the public access test on the basis that they allocate around 10% of their gross income in means tested bursaries for people who can’t afford the fees. The public understanding is that a charity gathers money to devote to people in need – not 10% of the money. This is an outrageous ruling which undermines our basic understanding of what constitutes charitable activity.  It contradicts the intent of the Scottish Act and must be challenged by our Parliament. Here’s Stephen Maxwell’s take in Third Force News – at his trenchant best.

Alasdair McKinlay who works for Scottish Government’s Housing and Regeneration Division writes to say that this Bulletin and an article in New Start magazine were factually incorrect in saying that Scottish Government has delegated the development of its Community Empowerment Action Plan to COSLA.  He asked that we print his letter of clarification.

There are basically two main models in use for measuring social impact in our sector – Social Return on Investment (SROI) and Social Audit (SA). In advance of next week’s Social Audit Network Conference (, there’s an article in Social Enterprise Magazine questioning the Scottish and English Governments` `fixation` on SROI as the preferred model. Social Auditing has been around for the last 10 years – an explanation on this change of emphasis would help to clarify things for customers. Would it be possible to have one approved methodology which combines the best features of both SROI and SA – or is that too simple?

Former Labour politician Susan Deacon has reinvented herself as Professor of social change at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University.  This Tuesday (4th Nov.), Susan is delivering a lecture called ”Changing Scotland: can creativity and common sense prevail?”  Senscot will be there.

A reader has sent a piece in which Muhammad Yunas set out his core thesis – that capitalism has been interpreted too narrowly, and can be adapted to encompass the range of human motivations.  This is a good time to revisit Yunus’ vision for a capitalism of which social enterprise is an integral part.

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: incl. posts with: Social Firms Scotland, Forth Sector, Social Firms Scotland, Patons & Baldwins Recreation & Welfare Association, ARK Housing Association Ltd, greenspace scotland
EVENTS: Making Sustainable Places: Green Networks, Empowered Communities, 7 Nov, Glenrothes; Launch of Social Accounting and Audit Research Project, 7 Nov, Edinburgh; Health & Wellbeing Fair, 1 Nov, Aberdeen; Compassionate Living Fayre, 8 Nov, Edinburgh

NETWORKS 1st News:  This year’s Ceilidh programme is now complete! ( The format is similar to last year, starting off with Question Time that will include contributions from Fiona Malcolm (Scottish Govt)  on the impending £12m Enterprise Fund and Gerry Higgins (CEiS) offering his personal take on where our sector should hope to be three years from now. An Audience with…. has presentations from Claire Carpenter (The Melting Pot), Frankie Hodge (Re-Cycle Fife) and Dave Simmers (Community Food Initiative North East). In the evening, pre-dinner speeches include the usual turn from Laurence as well as a guest appearance from Mel Young from the Homeless World Cup and the founding chair of Senscot.. For more NETWORKS News, see

The Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition (SSEC) is setting up a special Christmas website to showcase some of Scotland’s leading social enterprises. The site goes live tomorrow – 1st November. The site will offer a range of affordable gifts, vouchers and services from social enterprises such as Kibble, Loch Arthur Creamery, Rag Tag `N` Textile and the Ecology Centre amongst others. Check it out

Scottish Government asked Senscot if it could compile a list of social enterprise venues. The Government is increasingly holding meetings and events out and about around the country and would like to, where possible, take advantage of social enterprise or community-run venues. The list ranges from rural village halls to larger city centre venues. If you’d like your venue to be included, contact Here’s the current list.

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise based in Edinburgh that is committed to helping children, young people, parents and families achieve a healthy lifestyle. The Children’s Weight Clinic (CWC) is the first of its kind in Scotland. Although there are a number of groups and clinics that help and support adults with weight issues, there are few clinics that specialises in overweight and obese children. As well as working with young people and their families, CWC Health provides training courses for health professionals and organisations and groups that work directly with children & families. For more, see

‘Either we have hope within us or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not dependent on some observation of the world. Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond the horizons. Hope in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction, that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. It is Hope, above all, which gives the strength to live and continually try new things.’

Vaclav Havel is a poet, playwright and politician. He was the last President of Czechoslovakia following the `velvet revolution` in 1989  and then 1st President of the new Czech Republic.

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

Best wishes,

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