Senscot Bulletin 03-09-2004



Dear members and friends,


Three years ago I gave up drink.  It’s difficult to discuss this without sounding like you’ve joined the ‘band of hope’ – ‘I who was a sinner, Lord am now saved.’ Folk don’t like talking about it.  For most of my adult life I drank alcohol every single day.  It felt necessary.  Average for the past decade was 14 units per day – 100 per week – almost five times the ‘safe’ level.  When I turned 60 I felt it was taking its toll – physically – mentally – spiritually – tried to cut down but if I have four want fourteen.  So – to prolong my useful life – on 4th September 2001 I stopped.

Physically, I’ve lost weight – feel fitter. Mentally, I’m having a go at writing. Spiritually, a negative cloud is lifting. Things that were out of reach – come into reach. On the downside my former social life has evaporated.  Drinkers and non-drinkers don’t connect. It’s sad. Being sober, you spend more time with yourself – more perhaps than you’d choose – when you can’t lighten your moods with brandy and soda. I miss drink most when the moods come – threaten to sweep me away. Fear – anger – sadness etc – finding new ways to live with them. 

            Will I return to the bottle? You never know. Don’t think I’ll wake up in a B&B in Birmingham – wondering what happened – but who knows. It’s not for me an issue about good and bad. It’s about the best way to enjoy the rest of my life. One day at a time – adjust – make the next move – if there isn’t one, make it up.



Well, we’ve got our Futurebuilders Scotland – and with the right management and a fair wind – there’s enough there to trigger a new wave of activity – Senscot will try to be part of it.  Of all the comments I’ve read in the past week the most informed is from Matthew Little – senior reporter of Third Sector Magazine.  He highlights the important contrast with English Futurebuilders in that, ‘The Scottish Executive has long demonstrated a half-hearted attitude to the role of charities in delivering public services.  Futurebuilders Scotland focuses on the sector’s role in helping the long term unemployed into work rather than attempting to add value to existing public services.’  Matthew has twigged the big shift of emphasis from the Social Economy Review – about modernising public services – to the ‘Action Plan’ – about aligning the social economy with Executive priorities.  It took them a year but Labour’s Municipalists have quietly ‘fixed’ it.  Last year’s Social Economy Review might as well not have been written.  (



If you are unemployed in the UK and receiving the basic benefit – you don’t get enough to live – so many people use their initiative and find some way to supplement benefit.  I would do the same. 

            The problem is that this is fraud and you will be prosecuted if caught. A report from Middlesex University this week (for the ODPM) claims that the Government does not understand the benefits of ‘informal working’ – ‘in combating social exclusion, enabling economic integration and developing entrepreneurial skills.’ Senscot knows of social enterprises which enable people on benefit to earn money – with the informal collusion of the Department of Work and Pensions. Certain officials will admit that the regulations which cause the benefit trap need to be changed – but that the consequences would be too far reaching – so we all keep our heads in the sand. It’s time to endorse pilot programmes to assist the transition of people back into the official economy. (



On Monday, Aidan and I spent an inspiring day at the First Annual Conference of the Development Trusts Association Scotland – 117 delegates and a real buzz.  DTAS is already in touch with 80 Trusts and feel that they’ve ‘barely scratched the surface.’  I did the closing remarks at the end which we’ve posted.  In it I argue that a locally owned Development Trust is a more effective vehicle for Regeneration than a council run partnership.  (



Tommy Cooper has been voted Britain’s best comedian – I’m okay with that – do you know this one?  ‘Apparently, one in five people in the world are Chinese.  And there are five people in my family, so it must be one of them.  It’s either my mum or my dad.  Or my older brother Colin.  Or my younger brother Ho-Cha-Chu.  But I think it’s Colin.’



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


JOBS: 74 vacancies, incl: Move On, Home in Scotland, Turning Point Scotland, RNID, The Tullochan Trust, Gorbals Youth Café, Cornton Action Planning Partnership, Home Start Glasgow North West.


EVENTS: LETS Help Social Enterprise, Forres, Edinburgh, 19 Sept; Social Firms Scotland 4th AGM, 23 Sept, Glasgow; EQUAL ‘Making the Case’ seminars, Sept (Hamilton) and Nov (Glenrothes); Strategic Campaigning, Edinburgh, 12-13 Oct; Wilderness Ecotherapy Course, Knoydart, 10-16 Oct, Launch of the Scottish Voluntary Sector Equalities & Human Rights Coalition, 21 Oct, Glasgow.


Free, detailed guide to official govt. assistance for business, how ‘grant and funding’ schemes work, incl. ’10 Golden Rules’ for making Applications.


CAN YOU HELP? Do you advise or work with social enterprises? A free-to-join national business support register for social enterprise is being developed. See


For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’ at:   



Steven Maxwell of SCVO continues their splendid campaign to have clear criteria of public benefit written into the Scottish Bill to reform Charity Law.  He argues that the ‘benefits’ must outweigh the ‘dis-benefits’ and that public schools would be unlikely to meet the criteria because of their nature they perpetuate social exclusion by privileging the already well off.  Jack McConnell has said he will ‘strongly resist’ any moves to deprive posh schools of their charitable status.  Watch this space.  (



We regularly hear calls for more mergers in the social enterprise sector – for consolidation – fewer organisations with increased stability and capability.  We’ve posted an article from the Sunday Herald’s business section about the training / support organisation Momentum which has just taken over two training charities – Haven and May Tag.  Will this become a trend?

            There is a tension between the efficiency of ‘bigger’ and the efficiency – from locally felt ownership – of ‘smaller’.  A good example is the kerbside collection element of domestic recycling.  If there was a way to blend the benefits of the local ownership of collecting – with the economic benefits of a national operation – Scotland could create a great National Social Enterprise.




This week’s bulletin looks at a project with two arms – Common Wheel and Boomerang – operating from a workshop in Maryhill and also from premises within Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow.  Common Wheel, set up in 1999 from an idea borrowed from New York City, is a mental health project working on bicycle restoration and maintenance.  Boomerang, founded in 2001, is the woodworking branch producing designer furniture from recycled timber.  The organisation is a charity and a company limited by guarantee, a structure that has been crucial to its success as a venture bridging the gap between social project and economic activity.  The core aim of the organisation is to provide meaningful work of social and environmental value for people experiencing mental health problems.  For further info’, see (project profiles)



They fill their mouths with alcohol / and blow it over a lighted candle / at traffic signs.  Anyplace really, / where cars line up and the drivers / are angry and frustrated and looking / for distraction – there you’ll find / the young fire eaters.  Doing what they do / for a few pesos.  If they’re lucky. / But in a year their lips / are scorched and their throats raw. / They have no voice within a year. / They can’t talk or cry out – / these silent children who hunt / through the streets with a candle / and a beer can filled with alcohol. / They are called milusos.  Which translates / into ‘a thousand uses’ – The Young Fire Eaters of Mexico City by Raymond Carver


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

Best wishes,



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