Dear members and friends,
Becoming a community worker in Wester Hailes in 1976 was one of the defining events in my life. I learnt on the job, that if ordinary folk organise and mobilise they can change things – but I also learnt that a tier of officials, councillors, professionals don’t like this. In spite of resistance – over 15 years, we developed an independent parallel world, involving thousands of people, in over a hundred enterprises – local people leading. Our MP Malcolm Rifkind remarked that Wester Hailes had more resident involvement than anywhere in the UK; as Secretary of State for Scotland, he dispatched to the area a major Govt Regeneration Programme. When the caravan came to town – all manner of bureaucrats and consultants – I moved off in search of new frontiers.
But those Wester Hailes years – all the people I came to know as friends – all that we achieved together – made a lasting impact on my life. It was painful to watch, from other places, as the caravan eventually moved on – and a once proud community structure slowly unravelled and disappeared. For all that to vanish without a trace is so sad. Then on Tuesday I attended a meeting called by a few former activists. They’ve rescued most of the old archives; set up a social history project; planning a book; lots of other ideas. The flame is not extinguished.
Although increasingly used, the term social enterprise is still highly contested – mainly between those on the right, more comfortable with the culture of private business and those on the left (like me) for whom social objectives must be embedded (asset lock, governance etc). In an article about his new book ‘The Social Entrepreneur Revolution’ – Martin Clark quotes this: ‘‘In future a millionaire will not just be someone who has made a million pounds but also someone who has helped change a million lives’’. By my understanding it should not be possible for anyone to become a millionaire within a social enterprise – because the ratio between the highest and lowest paid should reflect a more equal view of society. On the left, we see social enterprise as a new way for society to organise itself – not rich people doing good. https://senscot.net/?viewid=7980
On Monday Scottish Govt launched its ‘Community Empowerment Action Plan’ and I’ve taken the trouble to read its 25 pages. I believe the Local People Leading (LPL) steering group got close enough to the drafting process to have some influence – the importance of strong local (anchor) organisations and asset ownership is clearly recognised. There’s no new money and it remains to be seen whither anything will actually happen – but the fact that Scottish Gov and COSLA have signed this joint statement of intent is in itself no small achievement. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=7987
This bulletin has been complaining for years about Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) – that their dogged refusal to implement the promised secondary transfer of houses to local communities is outrageous. The Herald reports this morning that, at long last, Glasgow Council and Scottish Govt. have had enough of this defiance – moves are afoot to bring this runaway juggernaught back under control.
The English Govt has set tight timelines for the introduction of a Social Enterprise Mark (SEM) – they’re looking for a sector consensus by this summer, with national roll–out from November 2009. Scottish Govt, which so far has tried to ignore this issue, will need to come off the fence. Meanwhile RISE, the south east of England agency which invented SEM has published the results of research showing strong consumer support for a way of recognising social enterprises. The RISE press release also announces that the English Social Enterprise Coalition (SEC) will now support the further development of SEM.
Great story from Stranraer, where the local football club, which has been struggling financially, has formed an alliance with the local housing association, which is thriving. Ahsan Khan, CEO of Loreburn Housing Association, sees supporting Stranraer FC as a great way of building community – part of Wider Action activity. Great story http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=7975
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php. This week:
JOBS: incl. posts with The Melting Pot, Isle of Kerrera Development Trust, Edinburgh Cyrenians, Blake Stevenson Ltd, Recap, The Ecology Centre, Triodos Bank NV
EVENTS: Achieving Dreams, Enterprising Women, 31 May; Art Show at Theatre, The Accessible Art Company, 1 Apr; Funding surgeries, CRT, 6 Apr; Fauldhouse Music Festival, Fauldhouse Community Development Trust, 3-12 Apr; Community Sector Trading, DTA, 5 May
NETWORKS 1st News: The evaluation of ‘Fit for Purpose 09’ is now ready. The event, held on 3rd March, was a real success altho` there are still a number of significant barriers to social enterprises delivering health benefits to Scotland’s communities. We will be working to overcome these in the year ahead. The delegate split was 53% social enterprises, 31% public sector, 5 % private sector and 11% from the wider third sector. For more Networks News, see http://www.senscot.net/networks1st/showart.php?articleid=80
Two years ago, Mike and Karen Small received an award from Scotland unLtd to run their `Fife Diet` project asking people to eat only local food for a year. Their idea initially raised a few eyebrows, with one newspaper branding the project as `flakier than a vol-au-vent`. Two years down the line, the `Fife Diet` experiment has just received top prize in the Observer Newspaper’s Food Awards for 2009 in the category of `Best Ethical Contribution`. Congratulations to both Mike and Karen. See full story,
We hear that EKOS has been commissioned by the Big Lottery (DInC) to map current support for the third sector. The brief is to get the views of the sector on the existing infrastructure and its fitness for purpose. There is no doubt that this study will have a major impact on the future role of `support agencies` in Scotland. The final report is due in 2010 but starts with a series of consultation meetings in April/May. See details, http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=7982
A reader has forwarded a short paper called `In Defence of Youth Work` which argues against the Govt`s imposition of prescribed outcomes on youth work. A youth worker needs to meet with young people on their terms – not the state’s terms – non-negotiable. Same with community workers.
Early interest in the Scottish Investment Fund is high and new Chief Executive at Social Investment Scotland, Craig Campbell, is looking to add to the team with the recruitment of a strong lender/credit appraiser. Some experience of lending to social enterprises or wider third sector orgs preferred. Interested candidates can contact Craig directly for an informal chat on email@example.com
This week’s bulletin profiles Live Wire Productions, based in Aberdeen. Live Wire has been on the go since 1994 working with schools, communities and organisations to promote health improvement, citizenship and environmental issues through the medium of the performing arts. For more, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=7983
I enjoy reading the interviews with great writers in the volumes of Paris Review Interviews. This quote is from one with the American poet Jack Gilbert in 2005. ‘‘When I read the poems that matter to me, it stuns me how much the presence of the heart – in all its forms – is endlessly available there. To experience ourselves in an important way just knocks me out. It puzzles me why people have given that up for cleverness. I think serious poems should make something happen that is not correct or entertaining or clever. I want something that matters to my heart’’. Here’s a link to Jack’s poem `In Umbria`. https://senscot.net/?viewid=7973
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures
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