Dear members and friends,
On occasional trips to London, I hang around the Bloomsbury area, visit Marchmont Street – an eclectic mix of cafes, bookshops etc – with an emergent, creative vibe. One of my haunts at No.70, is the School of Life – ground floor books – over a salon which hosts classes and one-off seminars, under the general theme of ‘Ideas to live by’. Here’s the menu, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11899 School of Life was founded in 2008 by writer, Alain de Botton and a dozen pals; their vision is of a centre where people can share ideas about how to live wisely and well, without reference to any dogma. The uncoupling of human wisdom from authoritarian religion really appeals; I sometimes reflect on how a Scottish sister School of Life might look.
Alain de Botton has written a new book – Religion for Atheists – which can be seen as an extension of the School of Life work. He looks at world religions from the point of view of a non-believer who is sympathetic – commenting on the ‘babies thrown out with the bathwater’ by those of us who have given up membership of a church. For much of my life, I was a practising Catholic (including two years in a Seminary) but over the years I found myself smothered within a closed system of belief. But de Botton is right – the collective experience of world religions has much to teach secular society about how to live wisely and well. https://senscot.net/?viewid=11895
Our accomplished First Minister was in London this week, delivering the Hugo Young lecture – giving his take on the implications of Scottish independence. His central point seems to be that a sovereign, mature Scotland would be a far better partner for England – ‘a beacon for progressive opinion south of the border’. This was also the theme of Neal Ascherson’s recent Observer piece: ‘a new sovereign Scotland would mean that the English, at last, have to face their own problems: a decent nation, grotesquely dominated by the interests of the rich south-east and the city of London.’ Independence for Scotland, Ascherson says, could also mean "England arise". See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11894
Thankfully, the social investment community – even in England – is beginning to realise that the potential of social impact bonds has been wildly overstated; it remains a totally unproven model.. It’s worrying that Big Society Capital – the source of all the hype – still considers SIBs to be worthy of major investment. In this piece, NESTA’s director of social ventures Joe Ludlow, expresses concerns. https://senscot.net/?viewid=11904
An effective way of initiating social change is from the bottom up; ordinary people – organising at street level – trying out new social/economic models. This week saw the opening in Hackney/London of the second People’s Supermarket. Those of you experimenting around ‘food social enterprise’ may want to look at this model; member owned and run. https://senscot.net/?viewid=11896
There is increasing understanding in Scotland – even in Govt circles – that empowering local communities cannot be separated from an element of financial independence. Communities which get this drift, are busy building their own anchor organisation – with the in-house ability to hold, develop and manage assets – to generate sustainable income. The Scottish Community Alliance is advertising for a Community Advisor – to work alongside community anchor organisations – developing viable investment proposals. See Job Ad, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11893. The funding is from a programme called Jessica and is initially for three years. See info on Jessica https://senscot.net/?viewid=11897
OSCR, this week, published its survey ‘Scottish Charities 2011’ – telling us that Scotland has 23,351 registered charities. Of these, a mere 7.1% capture 95.3% of total charity income – which I find very worrying. The ‘big guns’ employ professional fundraisers – to scoop up the big money – from increasingly complex funding streams. The tesco-isation of the retail sector is wiping out our high streets; the same dynamic seems to be at work in the third sector. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11898
Thanks to all those readers who have already contributed during January to our annual call for donations. To donate this year, see http://www.senscot.net/donate.php Company members – around 100 individuals who support our work – pay an average of £25. Associate members (organisations) pay a minimum of £100 and enjoy free use of our jobs and events service. See 2011 list, http://www.senscot.net/companymembers11.php
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php This week:
JOBS: Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Development Coll, École Enterprise, Turning Point Scotland, Coconut Corner Childcare Centre, Faith in Community Scotland, Rowan Alba, Stramullion Service, Ayr Gaiety Partnership Ltd, Hadeel Palestinian Craft Shop
EVENTS: Social Care Ideas Factory Meet Up, 2 Feb; Just Enterprise- Sales & Marketing workshop, 7 Feb; Getting Ready to Buy, 9 Feb; Community Sport Thriving in the 21st Century, 23 Feb;
TENDERS: Open Tenders for feasibility study/ Business Plan – for Iona Village Hall, Re-Processing of Timber arising from Recycling Centres, Recycling Points and Commercial Outlets, repair and maintenance services in Glasgow. See, http://readyforbusiness.org/index.php.
NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: A number of the thematic SENs have ‘Roundtables’ – which bring together strategically placed individuals (SE and public sector), to explore the benefits that a social enterprise approach can bring to that thematic area. The Health Roundtable has made some real progress of late – including participation in the Govt led review of Strategic Engagement between Health, Social Care and the Third Sector – with the publication a ‘Social Enterprise and Health Policy Context Paper’. See http://www.se-networks.net/downloads/SEHRTPolicyPaperv10.pdf. For more Networks News, see http://www.se-networks.net/showbull.php?articleid=226
Senscot is a partner in the ‘Developing New Markets’ Programme – officially launched this week by John Swinney at an event in Edinburgh. The Cabinet Secretary was impressive and his understanding of the contribution social enterprise can make to Scottish society has evolved since he first took office in 2007. He re-iterated his commitment to supporting the social enterprise community to find creative and innovative solutions to the challenges we face. He called for ‘co-operation and collaboration’. ‘Developing New Markets’ (see, www.readyforbusiness.org) comes into this category and, in terms of public service reform, can pave the way for new working relations between the public sector and social enterprises. If we get it right, the impact could be considerable. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11838
The Social Enterprise Academy will be running Leadership Programmes for both the Cultural and Youth SENs over the coming months. Creative Scotland has contributed £2,000 towards the cost of the programme for the Creative SEN – much appreciated. The Youth SEN programme has managed to secure contributions from a number well known orgs. We ‘d like to thank Aberdeen Foyer; the Wise Group; Kibble; Social Firms Scotland; Community Enterprise Ltd; CEiS; and Social Enterprise Scotland for their support of our next generation of social entrepreneurs. For more info on the respective programmes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday afternoon, the Guardian Newspaper held an online Q&A on social enterprise in Scotland. See, http://tinyurl.com/senscotbulletin
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that is beginning to make its presence felt in Scotland. Employers For Childcare (EFC), based in Belfast, is the UK’s only childcare voucher provider that operates as a social enterprise. The Govt scheme is for working parents who have children in registered childcare. By signing up, employers can help their staff save almost £80 per month on childcare costs.
Employers who have signed up include Shetland Council and the Wise Group – but the scheme is available to any social enterprise irrespective of size. For more, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=11900
Scots poet John Burnside writes about levels of consciousness which make most of us uneasy. Children are often ‘attuned’ – but most adults have learned to ignore the spirits which reside in our historical unconscious. Burnside says here that his ‘spirit animal’ is a hyena.
"The hyena is my favourite – my totem animal. It comes and goes, it is indeterminate and truly mysterious; mistaken for some bizarre sub-class of the dog family, hyenas are actually a breed apart, a wayward strand of the world’s DNA – and even face to face – there is an elusiveness, a near-divine secrecy in its gaze that is both beautiful and unnerving. Bizarrely – there is something erotic about hyenas, about the way they move, about their smell, about the fact that they seem to flit back and forth between our world and the nothingness that haunts all being. If I could be transformed into any other creature, I would choose to be a hyena, for one night at least, if I could taste the otherworld, even for only a few hours, I would be profoundly grateful. Dreaming the hyena, I begin to be attuned to what every cell of my inner creature tells me is, in fact, the one Magnum Mysterium: the constantly shifting and transformative mystery of everyday life." See, full article, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11902
That’s all for this week.
Good luck with your adventures
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