Senscot Bulletin: 02-03-2007

Dear members and friends,

It is my habit to speak from the personal – though I’m aware some folk think this is ‘common’ (toffs call themselves ‘one’). ‘Being’ is not a steady state and I enjoy exploring it’s unfolding with like minded friends – but as the years pass, folk seem less interested. I’m learning that older people are expected to censor the ageing process – as though it is offensive to speak openly of decline. This is my seventh decade. To repress its story is to imply that it is less important – less worthy – than other times. I won’t allow that; ‘now’ matters most – but I may run out of listeners.
 I’ve got two themes running just now which I share with my pals. For some time I’ve felt intuitive promptings to withdraw from things – but it doesn’t feel like a closing down – more like clearing a space for new stuff. This is exciting because I don’t know what’s next – just a prompt to make myself available. The other theme is a gathering awareness of the constellation of people, past and present, who share my life. A need builds for what I can only call ‘reconciliation’ – to ‘make good’ all the ‘trespasses’. But this is a major theme that goes deep – will take time. As the great Charlie Parker once said: ‘If you don’t live it – it won’t come out your horn.’

In England, both Labour and Tory politicians share a common ideological basis for advancing social enterprise. The Miliband brothers and Oliver Letwin – among others – in dozens of speeches – articulate a clear commitment to shift power down to local communities – real decision making and engagement in delivering services When the Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy emerges it will make no reference to citizen engagement or any other ideological context – which is a sad refection of our political leadership. Philosophers they are not. We are coming close to the time when our Strategy must be released – or become swallowed up in the purdah of the election frenzy. Dozens of ships are waiting to be launched. The implications of further postponement don’t bear thinking about.

Senscot member Les Huckfield told a recent SURF Conference in Edinburgh that Urban Regeneration Companies (URCs) are costly, politically complex and too detached from communities to be effective delivery vehicles. Scotland currently has 5 URCs which have been allocated £44m since the programme began in 2004. Les proposed that investing in the capacity of a local housing association or development trust makes more sense as it gives the community more power and ownership in the longer term. ‘I’m not sure,’ he said ‘you can graft community involvement on to an URC.’

Since our launch in January 1999, Senscot has had only two Chairpersons – First Mel Young until 2004 and then, till last year, Liz Thomas, who led our progression from an association to a membership limited company. Liz is a superb networker who carried Senscot’s message all across Scotland and wider. I’ll remember her as a chair who asked the difficult questions which needed to be addressed. We thank her for all her work and wish her well with her new adventures. Senscot’s current Chair is Sophy Copland, CEO of Instant Neighbour in Aberdeen. See current Directors

Last month of our appeal for donations. Donate online at or send a cheque (and address so we can send you a receipt) payable to Senscot, 54 Manor Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7EH. Thanks for your support.

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: 35 vacancies, incl. posts with: Almond Enterprises, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Traditional Music & Song Association (TMSA) of Scotland, Possil Renewal, Edinburgh Cyrenians, Greencity Wholefoods.

EVENTS: 13 events, incl. Equipping the community and voluntary sector for health improvement
Organisation , March 20, Glasgow; Scottish Election question Time, 22 March, Edinburgh;  SURF Open Forum: community regen approaches in a rural setting – and lessons for elsewhere?, 29 March, Inverness;

Fife School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) at BRAG is recruiting for this year’s programme. A new 6 month course starts on 1st April. For info’, see 

Are you a social enterprise which develops websites? Contact

A main thrust of Senscot’s work over the next couple of years will be to help develop further the Local Social Enterprise Networks (LSENs). A couple of weeks back, we reported that Argyll and Bute SEN is to receive funding for a support worker with two other SENs about to submit similar applications locally. Senscot hopes to see this number double over the next 12 months. Discussions are ongoing re establishing Networks in Tayside and Forth Valley. For info’, contact or see

The 2007 S2S is shaping up to be another important event for the sector. If you’re interested in going along sign up now: There are still places available for those interested in an exhibition stand. The night before (25th April), the SSEC Hustings are taking place with a provisional line-up including Alex Salmond , Murdo Fraser, Mark Ballard and Nicol Stephen. Should be a great night.

Dragon’s Den – BBC2, Wednesday night – featured a social entrepreneur, and the discussion raised some interesting issues. Here’s member Edward Harkin’s take on it:

This week’s bulletin profiles is a new social firm in Aberdeen. The Breadmaker is an organic bakery, café and craft shop offering training and employment for up to 24 adults with learning disabilities and special needs. They have recently secured the lease on a property in Rosemount Viaduct, and opened their bakery and coffee shop in December 2006. The business has been in the pipeline for a number of years as part of Aberdeen Day Project’s objective of providing people with learning disabilities the same opportunities as an able-bodied person. The Breadmaker specializes is making different breads from around the world. For more info, see

I’m an admirer of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh whom they call Thay. His life and teachings show the connection between personal, inner peace and peace on earth. Here is a beautiful short meditation on ‘inter-being’ as represented by a sheet of paper.
‘There is a cloud floating on this sheet of paper that you are holding in your hand. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not there, the sheet of paper cannot be here either; so the cloud and the paper inter-are. If we look at this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forests cannot grow. In fact nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper; the paper and the sunshine inter-are…’ See full meditation:

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

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available at Word Power, 43 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. See: