Senscot Bulletin: 01-04-2005



Dear members and friends,


Invited to book launch in new Italian restaurant – good nosh. Lots of ‘faces’ – famous Scottish actress says, ‘I remember your gallery in Melville Street.’ ‘No,’ I say, ‘that’s Ricky Demarco. I’m Laurence.’ Later, famous Scottish writer says, ‘I remember your snooker hall in Groove Street.’ ‘No,’ I say, ‘that’s Bert Demarco. I’m Laurence.’ Later, one of the waitresses says, ‘Are you the Demarco who had the chip shop in Bread Street?’ ‘That’s the one,’ I smile.

            Don’t enjoy meeting celebs – but should record that in 1974 I spoke with Harold Wilson when he was prime minister. I was recruited to help steward his ‘walkabout’ in Edinburgh. I was excited and prepared carefully. It was unlikely that he would consult me on ‘matters of state’ – but I rehearsed some snappy answers which might launch me into politics. On the day, in Nicholson Street, two boys aged seven moved toward him, so I grabbed them. That’s when the great man spoke to me. ‘Leave those children alone!’ he shouted. That was all – time stopped – everyone looked at me – ashamed, I released the kids – the entourage moved on – I let it go – my political career in ruins. Harold – the wily showman – had pinched the gospel story where Jesus says, ‘suffer the little children to come unto me.’ Plonker – never liked him after that.

            Further down South Bridge – outside Drummonds the greengrocer – a group of scallywags pelted him with fruit and veg. I was delighted.



Will Hutton seems happy to ride on the New Labour wagon – but sometimes his Observer column illuminates something beyond pragmatism.  Last Sunday his piece enthused that the UKs estimated 26 million volunteers is one of the more extraordinary and under-reported phenomena of our times – and their numbers rise by a million a year.  Hutton wrote ‘The social enterprise and entrepreneurship movement is growing exponentially and if the momentum continues a tipping point is approaching when 21st century social enterprise will start to parallel the rise of mutual and friendly societies in the 19th century – and for very similar reasons.  Before the march of an individualist capitalism, there is a hunger to assert the social and better side of our natures.’  Hutton believes that the nation is ready to respond to a political leadership that speaks to our better instincts. It’s a hopeful piece.



Hutton spoke this morning at the Skoll World Forum on Entrepreneurship in Oxford. The Forum is sponsored by Jeff Skoll (creator of E-Bay), who believes that the future hope of our world lies with social entrepreneurs. Last year – and this – I felt aloof from this American visitation of Harvard business speak – but perhaps I was wrong. It’s folk like Jeff Skoll and Jamie Oliver etc who can take our work into the mainstream. Senscot’s Aidan and Colin attended the Forum. Aidan sends this:



The English Futurebuilders investment fund has been awarded a further £90m of government funding and will now continue till at least 2008 The English Futurebuilders model – a government-funded investment vehicle managed by a board drawn from the social economy – is clearly favoured by ministers in England. In Scotland the fund is directly managed by Communities Scotland – and even the promise of an advisory board from our sector has yet to materialise. Latest news on Scottish Investment Fund awards:



Last Monday the Social Enterprise Coalition in London launched its manifesto – challenging the political parties to embrace the benefits of social enterprise. Our Scottish sister body issued its own press release:



YELLOW PAGES/EXCHANGE: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice sent but please any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:


JOBS: 51 vacancies, incl. posts with: McSence, Community Retailing Network, Gift, Hanover Housing Association, British Red Cross, SCVO.


EVENTS: Social Enterprise Academy taster day, 7 April, Inverness; ‘Making Connections Forum: from tenant participation to volunteering and self help’ event, 13 April, Stirling; Re-Union crew training evenings, April 20, 27, May 4, and trip to the Falkirk Wheel and back over 30 April, to 2 May; Be a learning champion! Social Enterprise Academy event, 27 April, South Queensferry; EQUAL: making the case, seminar, 28 April, Paisley; ‘Futurebuilders Scotland Fund: an Introduction’, events, April, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Perth.



Community Enterprise Lothian (CEL) and Senscot co-hosted a dinner for 20 social entrepreneurs in Houston House on Wednesday evening. The guests, who were from enterprises in Midlothian, West Lothian and Fife, said the event was both valuable and fun – so we’re going to have more of these.



The Charity Commission in England has recently decided to grant charitable status to two leisure trusts established by local councils in greater Manchester. This decision is causing genuine unease around whether charities set up by local councils will be genuinely independent.



The New Economics Foundation (NEF) does a lot of valuable work about the importance of the ‘local spend’ – keeping money in the community. A year-long collaboration between NEF and Northumberland County Council has shown that locally-based suppliers re-spent an average of 76% of their income locally – while suppliers from outside the county spent only 36% in the area.



This week the bulletin profiles a good example of a Housing Association using wider action as a means of regenerating their local community. Linthouse Urban Village (LUV), an initiative by Linthouse Housing Association, is transforming shop fronts along Govan Road and restoring a sense of pride to the local people. Known locally as LUV, the project aims to reinvent Linthouse as a vibrant, bustling community with its own local shops, a community-learning zone and a gallery. Linthouse HA is no stranger to awards with projects like the ‘Luma Tower’ collecting 10 separate awards between 97-99. LUV was awarded a Special Award for Leading Innovation by the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum (SURF) Best Practice in Regeneration Awards in December last year. Further info:



Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ made a huge impression on me in the 70s.  Reading it now the language seems archaic – but his piece on ‘Children’ still feels eternally true and wise. ‘Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.  They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.  You may give them your love but not your thoughts.  For they have their own thoughts.  You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.  You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.  For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.  You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.  The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.  Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness’



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


Best wishes,



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