SENSCOT MEMBER’S BULLETIN No. 238, FRIDAY 23rd JULY 2004
Dear members and friends,
On Tuesday I visit a friend Tom who has been admitted to hospital for depression. His wife tells me on the phone that he took an overdose. I sit with him for an hour – not talking much – watching TV – the Scooby Doo show. Mental illness is somehow harder to be with than physical ills. We don’t want to admit that the human spirit can be crushed – that some people just don’t want to go on. I remember a line from Scott Fitzgerald, ‘I left my capacity for hoping on the little roads that led to Zelda’s sanitorium.’ Scott’s wife Zelda never recovered. We can all lose our capacity for hoping. If we are lucky – it returns quickly. Our reluctance to discuss despair is not that it is remote – but that it is familiar.
Tom will be sixty – we played golf in the same group for years. Straight from school he was a miner – but when Monctonhall closed he never really settled into anything else. Dropping him off from golf one day he told me, ‘The worst part of being unemployed – having no money – is feeling the guilt of it.’
Tom’s illness certainly puts my own worries into perspective. By moving house I’ve had to change doctors. New chap is young – good manners. Asks me if I have any health worries. ‘This lump has appeared behind my ear doctor – I’m wondering what could cause it?’ He looks, ‘That’s caused by not washing properly,’ he says – what an embarrassment.
Triodos Bank – one of the UK’s largest private investors in social enterprises – has published a research report claiming that business support services are failing the social economy sector. Frances Hines, Research Manager at Cardiff University said, ‘Business Link are responsible for delivering this service but there appears to be relatively little progress in developing skilled, focussed support for the social enterprise sector and they remain rather cynical and disillusioned about the quality of support provided.’ (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=705)
In Scotland, of course, we call this service Business Gateway and comments on quality are mixed. Some of the LECs are enthusiastic about our sector – but others still need to be convinced of the value of our work. Scottish Enterprise National must know by now which LECs met their social economy targets last year and which didn’t. What’s wrong with publishing these? Then Joe Public would know who is making an effort.
Senscot asked the Scottish Executive for clarification of what the Enterprise Networks can offer social enterprises – we got this reply in April 2004. (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=716)
Found an interesting website for social enterprise called www.nesst.org. These people seem ‘serious’ in the sense that their thinking is clear – and they are also ‘engaged’. They post a ‘working’ document called, ‘Commitment to Integrity’ which tries to capture the values of our sector. (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_art.php?viewid=717) They are thinking of hosting a 7-day study visit to Chile, and they invite your views. (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_cyhelp.php?viewid=719)
The business section of the Independent on Sunday carried an article about UK social entrepreneurs. The article refers to a report by Standard Life Bank and the Future Laboratory which indicates that employees are increasingly disillusioned with the soulless grind of the corporate workplace – and that this was fueling the rise of the social entrepreneur. The article is well researched – worth a look. (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=700)
The social enterprise sector is recognised at the highest level in England – hyped by New Labour and others as the ‘third way’. In Scotland, however, the climate is very different. Scottish Labour either ignores or is hostile to our work. The main lesson for me in the ongoing farce of the Social Economy In-action Plan – is that we have no political clout – that we can be ignored with impunity. This is why the post currently being advertised by the Social Enterprise Coalition is so important. The new Development Officer will be responsible for raising the profile of social enterprise – policy development – research and lobbying. The Coalition must become a voice for our sector in Scotland, which the politicians respect. (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_job.php?viewid=695)
YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice you send. But please send in any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to email@example.com and we’ll post them on our site. This week:
JOBS: 51 vacancies, incl: SSEC, MECOPP, Community Health Exchange, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Neighbourhood Networks, Community Action Planning Partnership, Sharing the Caring.
EVENTS: Redhall Walled Garden open Day, Edinburgh, 25 July; ‘Introduction to the Scottish Parliament and to Lobbying’, Edinburgh, 6 Aug; Development Trusts Association Scotland 1st Annual Conference, Inverness, 30 Aug; Full day course on facilitating, Scottish Civic Forum, Edinburgh, 7 Sept; Annual Scottish Coaching conference, Glasgow, 9 Sept; Strategic Campaigning course, Edinburgh, 12-13 Oct.
CAN YOU HELP? Stuart Murdoch from Dundee City Council and a colleague Leo Singer are looking for someone to deliver training in Bulgaria – on community development – social enterprises etc. (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_cyhelp.php?viewid=728)
For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’ at: www.senscot.net
A couple of members have queried, ‘Why isn’t the website being updated?’ In fact it is, but unless you’re viewing our new-look site, launched a month ago, you may need to refresh your link to www.senscot.net. Building our site, Simon was assisted by John Craig of Splash21. John, an UnLtd awardee, has devised a very attractive web pack for social enteprises: http://senscot.spl21.net/view_market.php?viewid=718
Last week’s piece on collaboration between social entrepreneurs and mainstream business entrepreneurs – got some positive reactions – including this one from a policy adviser in the Social Enterprise Unit in London, ‘We see these partnerships as one potentially major stimulus to growing more social enterprise. Examples of working together include: produce and service procurement, staff development, training and mentoring, assistance with start up or scaling-up operation, shared facilities and functions, joint ventures and joint tendering, cause-related marketing etc.’ (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_art.php?viewid=720)
This week’s bulletin profiles The Prestoungrange Gothenburg pub and restaurant, built in 1908 and reopened in July 2004 under the original Gothenburg Principles of its founders. The ‘Goth’ also houses East Lothian’s first micro-brewery, producing Fowler’s beers – brewed in the town until the 1960s. Surpluses are Gift Aided to the Prestoungrange Arts Festival – a charity that uses the arts to stimulate and encourage the economy of Prestonpans. Today (July 23) sees the first Gothenburg Day festival, with a choice of Swedish food and beverages to feast upon. Further info’: ‘Profiles’ at www.senscot.net
Good reaction from the network to piece by Ernesto Sirolli three weeks ago called ‘Passion, entrepreneurship, and the rebirth of local economies’. We hear from Kevin McDermott up in Moray that they are bringing Ernesto over to do a workshop on ‘Enterprise Facilitation’. By piggy backing on this event we can bring him to Edinburgh on the afternoon of Friday 1st October and we’ve booked the Quaker Meeting room 1.00–4.30. If you’d like to come, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s the link again to his talk. (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=591)
Another ‘enlightenment’ to emerge from Italy in recent years is the Slow Food Movement – 80,000 members in 100 countries who realise that haste and productivity are not the highest values. If you don’t know about this, go to www.slowfood.com. This week we post an article about a growing network of North Italian towns called ‘Citta Slow’. ‘These municipalities are more interested in preserving nature and restoring old buildings than in launching new construction projects. Civic investments are geared less towards building better highways are more towards creating bike and walking paths. They limit the presence of large chain stores and make sure small, locally owned shops get the best locations in the city centre. They encourage farmers to grow environmentally friendly, native crops using traditional agricultural methods. The Mayor says, ‘it’s more a philosophy than a concrete list of policies.” (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=727)
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.
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