SENSCOT BULLETIN No. 168, FRIDAY 7th MARCH
Dear Members and friends,
Haven’t touched alcohol in 18 months. Hangovers no longer
part of life, but there are still bad days – usually caused by poor sleep.
Tuesday morning through to Glasgow – feel dreadful after apprehensive nervy,
night. Devils have untuned me. Damp falls from dirty grey sky. Buchanan Street
feels tatty. Depressed – no energy – powerless. I’m going to let today happen by
itself – don’t care – stop trying. Outside Border Books, stuck to chewing gum
is a 50 Euro note – no one’s watching, so I pocket it. Browsing upstairs, find
‘out of print’ novel I’ve been pursuing for two years. Sit in Starbucks
enjoying book – pay £3.75 for sandwich pack – only need half. Rough sleeper enters back door begging food.
Unite him with surplus crayfish and rocket panino – Things feel more harmonious
(although suspect guy would’ve preferred a sausage roll). Mood starts to lift.
Perhaps ‘letting go’ invites the grace of serendipity.
I’m through in Glasgow I’m struck by how chaotic public behaviour can be. In
Edinburgh, poverty and suffering are more ‘tidied away’ cowed – whereas in
Glasgow everything is open – mixed together – unapologetically in your face.
This egalitarian culture has created a unique ‘patter’ – dark but stoical –
brazen but hilarious. Last week the Sunday Herald’s Tom Shields travelled with
the Celtic fans to Stuttgart and relished the ‘craic’. A Scottish fan making
his way unsteadily with a tray of drinks was reprimanded by a young lady with
the words, ‘You’re staggering.’ ‘You’re not bad-looking yourself,’ the young
If your councillor’s openly hostile to local democracy, or
there’s a single issue putting your community in conflict with the council –
nothing stops you getting together to put your own candidate forward. Though
our political masters aren’t exactly marketing the opportunity, in fact it’s
never been easier to stand: no deposit required; only one other person needs to
sign your nomination form; no association with a political party needed; you
must be on the electoral register and obviously will need to folk to vote for
you. If you don’t get elected, you’ll still have fun and democracy will
benefit. Local elections announced on Thurs 20 March, when registration packs
become available. You’ll have from 21
Mar-7 Apr to apply.
Rules and regulations for the process
haven’t been easy to track down. Neither Scottish Exec nor CoSLA have taken
trouble to collate them. Could be information on local democracy is thought not
important enough to merit the effort – or maybe too important for wide
circulation. ‘Local Elections Scotland 2003’, info for candidates and contact
details for all Scotland’s Returning Officers is in our site’s ‘InfoBank’, http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/LocalElections2003(03.03.03).asp
Recent visit to Social Enterprise unit at DTI was
informative: (1) the promised toolkit to help social businesses with
procurement of public contracts is delayed – now expected autumn. Will there be
Scottish version? (2) proposed legislation on community interest companies
(CICs, pronounced ‘Kicks’) is well advanced but awaits ministerial decision (3)
The unit, very sensibly, wants to bring some national comparability to the way
social enterprise is mapped in UK and a study to inform national guidelines is
underway. This has implications for Senscot’s mapping blueprint. If anyone
wants to read the final spec, it’s at http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/StrategSuccessSpec(07.03.03).asp
Director Barbara Phillips said she
was conscious of the unit’s 3-year window (two remaining) to prove, within the
context of DTI, the relevance of social enterprise to the economy. Compared to,
say, science or technology, ‘social enterprise’ will always be a bit player, so
it’s important to establish value in other ways. For this reason social
auditing will be given attention to evaluate and refine efficient tools to
measure social benefits. A national conference, ‘Social Audit for Social
Enterprises’, run by Cat’s Pyjamas and Social Enterprise magazine, will be held
in London on April 29. More info next week.
Last week’s ‘can you help?’ was on the problems small
companies and charities face regarding getting insurance. Next week, we read,
The Charity Finance Director’s Group will discuss a proposal to set up a
charity insurance mutual, along with other strategies to meet the sector’s
future insurance needs. More: http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/InsuranceMutual(07.03.03).asp
Highland Opportunity Ltd launches its Community Enterprise
Loan Fund, 12.30pm Friday 21 March in
Council Chamber, Highland Council, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness. Free event, starts 2pm, after buffet lunch.
How can loans help your Highland community to start or grow business? Contact
Jane Gair, 01463 228342, email@example.com
to reserve place; More: www.highland-opportunity.com.
First Edinburgh ‘Green Drinks Event’, Fri 21 March, Holyrood
Tavern (Back room), Edinburgh, for people working in sustainable development
and environmental field; lively mixture of people from NGOs,
academia,government and business. 6pm till late; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Green Office: space available soon in Edinburgh’s
fashionable Leith Shore area. 500sqft office space on grnd level plus 400sqft
workshop / storage basement. Loosely aimed at businesses working in area of
building technologies and services with emphasis on sustainable/eco practice;
planned: flexible multi-occupancy model incl. ‘hot desking’. Neil Stoddart:
0131 337 5055, neil.stoddart@btopenworld.
‘Transforming Your Space’- new funding programme for:
improving local environments; public green and open spaces; local access;
community gardens; community asset sustainability; applic forms/ info www.fresh-futures.org.uk. Contact
Iain Roxburgh, 0141 222 5636, email@example.com.
Member John Pearce’s new book has arrived from the publisher,
and we understand is already causing a stushie in the UK sector – more next
week. (‘Social Enterprise in Anytown’, www.centralbooks.co.uk)
Here in Scotland, lead civil servant in our sector is Mark
Batho, who met on Thursday with representatives of the newly formed Social
Enterprise Coalition. He referred to three lines which the Executive will
pursue: financial products; access to markets; and business support services.
In general, though, the mood in Scotland is discouraged. Most practitioners we
speak to are scathing about Scottish Enterprise’s support rôle for social
enterprise; and other high profile initiatives – Social investment Scotland,
the workwithus voluntary sector portal, Communities Scotland itself – are
described as slow and disappointing. Unlike England, we have no political
champion. Our ship is becalmed.
Forth Valley Food Links (FVFL) is a new
partnership project promoting environmentally and socially responsible food
production in Forth Valley area. With ‘Sustainable Action Grant’ funding it is
helping local producers and groups to develop practices to support the local
food sector. This entails developing independent networked organisations to
become self-sustaining after first three years of funding. FVFL works with
voluntary orgs and community groups interested in setting up local fruit and
vegetable co-operatives [fruit barras]. Already 5 operate in Falkirk area. It’s
also working with farmers, food growers, producers, et al to make available for
local people more affordable and fresh produce. FVFL will hold its first
Farmers Market in Falkirk, Sunday 11 May 2003. More info: ‘Project Profiles’
Visit to Glasgow on Tuesday was to attend the ‘Regenerating
Communities’ Seminar at The Lighthouse. The three speakers offered totally
different perspectives: academic, operational and inspirational. I don’t
believe I’m particularly stupid but most of what Charles Leadbetter said was
above my head. I did gather, however, that he is not a fan of the local
empowerment approach to regeneration. Craig McLaren, recently appointed to head
the Centre for Regeneration at Scottish Homes, told us that his background is
planning and he didn’t sound ‘hot’ either on community empowerment. The event
was ‘made’ for me by the inspirational words and spirit of Alistair McIntosh,
the land reform activist and writer. He gladdened our hearts with his stories
about people coming together to take control of their land – a profound
metaphor for what many of us are trying to achieve. Resolved to meet this
kindred spirit and read his book. Bingo! At Haymarket station there he was.
Introduced ourselves and agreed to meet up. He signed my copy of ‘Soil and
Soul’ “In kindred spirit” – I was fair chuffed. Alistair’s book, as did his
talk, starts with some wonderful lines
from Adrienne Rich from her poem ‘Natural Resources’:
“My heart is moved by all I cannot save: so much has been
I have to cast my lot with those who age after age,
with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.”
That’s all for this week.
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