Senscot Bulletin: 02.05.08

Dear members and friends,

I’m a James Kelman supporter because, like him, I believe that Scotland is an ‘occupied’ country – that we need to resist the colonisation of our language and literature. I buy all his books dutifully – but rarely finish them – too gloomy. Thankfully his latest offering, “Kieron Smith, Boy” is happier and more optimistic than his usual stuff. It’s about a lad growing up in 1950s Glasgow – roughly between the ages of 5-12. Kelman movingly links Kieron’s growing resilience to a courage unconsciously absorbed from his grandfather’s love of him. Real emotional warmth.
Climbing in a high tree the boy imagines losing his grip and falling – he reflects on what always saved him: “So yer Granda would be there, his spirit would come to yer rescue, maybe a hard blowing wind to stop you hitting the ground heid first, ye would land on one foot at a time, nice and soft, and just get up and walk away. Oh that was lucky, and it would be, except it was him, yer granda”
Down the years, I’ve known many people say that they live with the spirit, the tangible support, of someone who loved them in childhood. I vaguely considered this some kind of immaturity. Now I understand the opposite to be true – that it is we, who live without the awareness of someone’s love looking after us, who are somehow incomplete. It’s as though we were never claimed.

 (200 of these intros can be browsed here –

Scottish Government has eventually gone public on the subject of community empowerment. The announcement takes the form of a ‘joint commitment to community empowerment` agreed with COSLA and issued on their notepaper. See here,  . The joint letter commits to develop an action plan over the coming months but the proposed content seems very thin and limited – the repackaging and representing of existing work. There is little sign of new thinking or additional resources. The decision of this administration to pursue community empowerment jointly with COSLA is further welcome evidence of their determination to treat local government as an equal partner in the governance of Scotland. But the next step of devolution – their commitment to fostering, strong, self-empowered communities – seems to lack conviction. Yet the rationale for devolving power to communities is exactly the same as that which drives the case for more independence for both national and local government in Scotland. Whether this joint commitment is able to deliver this crucial next stage of devolution remains to be seen. See LPL`s updated community empowerment position statement

Spoke with Susan Deacon this week, whom I’d not met before. Told me that when she was Scotland’s Health Minister, she was only 35 – scary stuff. But it was party tribalism that scunnered her with politics. Susan (among other things) is now Professor of Social Change at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University where she is launching a new `Forum for Social Change`. Senscot`s happy to be part of this `network of networks`. We’ll keep you informed.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve mentioned the stark contrast between what’s being said at a national level and what’s happening `on the ground`. This week’s funding announcements from the Scottish Arts Council are another reminder of this contradiction. A Senscot member tells us,” we genuinely believed that we were moving away from piecemeal project investment. The Scottish Arts Council’s winners and losers in the current round appear to totally contradict the national rhetoric. The reality is Orwellian Nuspeak of unprecedented proportions. Are we so seduced by the rhetoric that we are failing to notice the potential collapse of scores of grass roots initiatives up and down the country?” For more, see

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: Fife Community Food Project, Triodos, Edinburgh Cyrenian Trust, Gift, Young Scot Enterprise, Scot-pep, Scottish Government, Sleep Scotland, Wasps Artists’ Studios, Bridges Programmes Ltd
EVENTS: 18 events, SURF seminar, 8 May, Edinburgh; Do social enterprises bring sustainable consumption and production?, 22 May, Aberdeen; Eat to the Beat 3, 6 Jun, Glasgow; Edinburgh Treefest and Woodmarket, 15 Jun, Edinburgh; Southside Festival, 28 Jun, Glasgow; Social Enterprise World Forum, 5 Sep, Edinburgh

Networks 1st: First glance this week at our new web portal for the Networks ( The idea will be to pull together the information held on the main website into a more streamlined format and make it easier to find out who’s who around the Networks, exchange resources/information and generally connect everyone up. There’s still a bit of work to be done over the coming weeks – adding info`, SEN details etc. Please feel free to contact us with any feedback or events we can highlight or resources you’d be happy to share with other Networks. For more, see

We hear that Scottish Government will be shortly releasing the criteria and processes for the new Scottish Social Investment Fund and will be making the info available shortly. It’s expected £4m will be available during this financial year, with £10m and £16m to follow in subsequent years. We’ll keep you posted

Last week’s S2S also saw the launch of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition’s (SSEC) latest publication. In partnership with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), the Coalition has produced a document exploring the potential for Housing Associations to become local incubators for social enterprise. The brochure is entitled `Housing Associations & Social Enterprise: Engaging with Scotland’s growing alternative business movement`. Here’s a copy

DTA Scotland is holding its 5th annual conference at St. Andrew’s University on 15th/16th June. If you’re interested in attending, check out the programme and booking form here. Got some good speakers lined up (including me!)

This week’s profile is not about a particular social enterprise but, instead, a new website promoting the growing number of social enterprise businesses in the Highlands. Set up with the support of CRNS and HISEZ, provides a one stop shop, allowing visitors to search for social enterprises in their area and advises which goods and services are on offer to them or their business. For more, see

From a recent interview with James Kelman published in the Guardian Review 12.04.08: Kelman is most famous for replacing what he calls the ‘standard third-party narrator’ – the ‘voice of God’, and its implicit values and pieties – with a defiantly working-class Glaswegian register, a stream of consciousness that refuses to explain or speak over his characters. In his essays, he sees himself as a post-colonial writer, and regards African and Caribbean writers as his peers. In an ‘occupied country’ like Scotland, he has written, ‘the intellectual life of working-class people is colonised. In a colonised country intellectual occupation takes place throughout society.’ Not least, he thinks, this is done through literature, which is controlled by a ‘coterie’ of London-based people who are “very close to power”. “You don’t have to assimilate the superior voice to write stories, you know. You don’t have to negotiate your way out of your own culture.”

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

Best wishes,

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