Senscot Bulletin: 01-02-08

Dear members and friends,

Yesterday dawned without a cloud in a sky and, while it wasn’t warm (14 degrees), the light was spectacular all day. My sister and I drove the 50 kilometres from Spoleto to Assisi – north, along a valley of vineyards, pasture and olive groves – overlooked by hanging villages and the majestic hill towns of Umbria. The Portiuncula, where Francis began his world movement in 1208, sits in the valley – with Assisi 4 kilometres up the hill. I have a natural aversion to religious shrines (mumbo jumbo) but sitting in this tiny original chapel got to me – powerful connection. The only problem is that it now sits inside a gigantic basilica – like a hut inside a hanger – bizarre! You might expect that the economics of mass tourism would smother the simple Franciscan message but – not so – the power of it can still be felt here – and around the world.
I recall the story of an American social entrepreneur – he told how the banking district in central Manhattan was cluttered with street people sleeping rough. This guy persuaded the banks to pay him an annual ‘tax’ – to provide an overnight shelter for the homeless. The one thorn in his side was an all night soup kitchen operated by a Franciscan priest – which he refused to move. ‘My calling’, the Friar said, ‘is to be with the poor – not to tidy the streets.’ The guy was telling us the story to show the irrelevance of old fashioned charity – but I just thought, good for you brother – your boss would be proud of you.
Some readers aren’t always interested in the whole bulletin – but please read this appeal for donations.

In its manifesto, the SNP made reference to supporting community empowerment but it’s not at all clear what they mean by this commitment. The term emerges in the restructuring of the Housing and Regeneration Division (Stewart Maxwell MSP) and also in the restructuring of the Third Sector Division (Jim Mather MSP) and I suspect that, at present, responsibility for resourcing the community sector falls between these stools. We are informed that by the end of March, the Scottish Government will publish its Community Empowerment Strategy when presumably ministerial responsibility for its implementation will be clarified. The Local People Leading campaign (of which Senscot is a founding member) believes that Scotland’s Community Sector should articulate its own independent position on Community Empowerment and, to get this process underway, it has drafted the attached position statement. We invite readers who are committed to a strong independent community sector in Scotland, to help us improve this paper.
This week saw the launch of Inspiring Scotland, an initiative developed by Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland. It intends to invest between £70m-£100m in around 20/30 organisations over the next seven to ten years, by assembling money from a combination of private individuals, trusts, foundations and the public purse. Its main theme will be supporting at-risk young people with their transition to adulthood. See,

The argument re the use of unclaimed assets in Scotland rumbles on, with variations on how and where it should it should be put to best use. Here are some opinions, including one from Laurie Russell (the Wise Group CEO and Chair of our Coalition, SSEC) in Wednesday’s Herald,

Senscot`s annual appeal for donations is more pressing this year because the bulletin has no funding. Any support you can give would be much appreciated. Link for details

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: 21 vacancies, incl. posts with: Pilotlight Scotland, Big Lottery Fund, Project Ability, Nisus Scotland, Space Unlimited, The Big Issue Cymru
EVENTS: 16 events, How the Land Reform Act can benefit your community, 14 Feb, Drymen; Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid, 21 Feb, Fife; Mental Health Awareness, 15 Mar, Kirkcaldy; More than Recycling 08, 11 Mar, Perth; S2S Third Annual Social Enterprise Trade Fair, 23 Apr, Dundee

Colin’s been out and about this week at a series of Network events. These included the ABSEN Trade Fair which ran over two days in Dunoon, culminating in a Dragons` Den. The three main winners were Cowal Music Group, Mull Butchers Ltd and Atlantis Leisure. See Colin’s weekly update for more news from the Networks

Neil McLean, new Director of the Scottish Social Enterprise Academy, has hit the ground running. He writes to inform us of a new programme of courses being run by the Academy centred round Tender Writing, Finance for non Finance people and the Equalities agenda. The courses are fully funded (aka free) through the support of the Scottish Government and will be taking places at a variety of locations round the country. Here’s a lowdown on dates, location and content

Mel Young, one of Senscot`s co-founders and now President of the Homeless World Cup, sends us his blog telling how Gordon Brown was `top of the pops` with delegates at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland last week. See more,

Still in Davos, have a read of Bill Gates take on things.

The Coalition’s S2S Trade Fair is evolving into one of our sector’s `must attend` events. This year’s Fair takes place at the Caird Hall in Dundee on 23rd April. Jim Mather (Enterprise Minister) will open proceedings and the day will have a strong focus on trading with a series of masterclasses covering costings, marketing and procurement. Special offers are available – early birds – on the new website. See

Today’s bulletin profiles a new initiative geared towards supporting rural community businesses. ACRE Scotland (Action for Community Rural Enterprise) is an Investment Co-op, in which members pool their money and decide, together, where to invest it. Started off with a grant from Scotland unLtd, ACRE is now ready to attract members and projects. Some of the ideas being mooted include expanding community shops, setting up community fuel wood schemes or community tourist facilities. Members will be asked for an initial investment of £500. For more info`, see

Marie Ndiaye: `Why I write`

‘I write to try to establish a little bit of order in what seems to me like one big confusion: the world, languages, thoughts. I want to get all this clear, focus it as you do in photography: at the beginning all is blurred. But then you start to focus and the object appears in all its clarity. For me it is the same with the act of writing. Writing is the focussing of what surrounds us.’

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

Best wishes,

To receive this bulletin directly, you can sign up here: