Senscot Bulletin 03-12-2004



Dear members and friends,


How do folk on minimum wages survive in this country?  I couldn’t.  The United Nations measures inequality in countries across the world (the GINI coefficient).  Inequality in the UK increased between 1996 and 2003 – we now measure highest in Europe.  But you don’t need the statistics – just talk to people at the edge – things are getting more scary. As the gap widens society becomes more unjust and unstable.  Yet none of the political parties seem bothered. State controls are tightening –  are we expecting trouble?

            For myself, as long as I’ve got my wits, I can earn enough for my needs.  Some of my friends, coming up to retirement, are cashing in their chips – selling businesses – down sizing houses – activating pensions.  Alas I have made no such provision – it’s getting a bit late – the end game looms.  But no complaint – it was my choice – it seemed the best way to travel at the time. I’d do it again. Solzhenitsyn wrote in the Gulag ‘The purpose of life is not prosperity, but the maturing of the human spirit.’  Like the sound of that – I’ll enjoy exploring what it means – this maturing of the spirit.

            Some lines from a poem ‘I know more or less how to live through my life now.  But I want to know how to live what’s left with my eyes open and my hands open; I want to stand at the door in the rain listening, sniffing, gaping.  Fearful and joyous – like an idiot before God.’ ‘What’s Left’ Kerry Hardie  



Eleanor Logan responds to last week’s bulletin, ‘I am working with a new social enterprise and we were signposted to Small Business Gateway for support. The Business Advisor I spoke to had little to no support to offer (too busy) and there would appear to be no financial support (even though we are creating 4 new jobs in an area of deprivation). The LECs, outwith HIE, are not interested in supporting social enterprise and don’t understand what it is or why it is important.’

            Scottish Enterprise says that their remit is to help mature, ambitious social businesses – not start-ups. The recent Futurebuilders report provides for local ‘Social Economy Partnerships’ to be put in place across the country, facilitated by Communities Scotland.  They will be accountable and resourced to deliver start up support.



Lots of Senscot members at the Tipping Point conference in Glasgow yesterday – an inspirational gathering. The event launched the new centre for confidence and well-being – the brainchild of its first chief executive Carol Craig. The centre will act as the focus for a whole range of initiatives to improve the self-confidence and well-being of Scots – so that fragmented activities can become a coherent movement for change.



Network member Peter Koenig writes; ‘Thanks for inclusion of the World Spirit Forum event in your newsletter.  It’s funny that you give a Thich Nath Hanh quote immediately afterwards.  As you read this Thich Thien Son, likewise abbot of a Vietnamese monastery and community (in Frankfurt) is here in Zurich, this week taking a turn at leading a hi-tech company called Supercomputing – attending meetings, visiting clients and giving a lecture at the university on ‘computer design!’  In exchange Supercomputing’s founder and boss Anton Gunzinger (predicted in Time magazine in 1994 to be one of the leading figures for the 21st century) is presently in Frankfurt with shorn hair and saffron robe, leading meditations, presiding over the monastery and tending to community members.’  

            This exchange took place as a result of the World Spirit Forum earlier this year.  World Spirit Forum Jan 16 – 19 2005.Arosa Switzerland.



Each week Senscot staff read most UK magazines covering Social Economy – Regeneration – Social Enterprise – Voluntary Sector etc and we select around a dozen stories on to our website homepage Our searchable ‘Archive’ section contains hundreds more.




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:


CAN YOU HELP: Parent Network Scotland seeking office premises approx 300-600 sq. ft, Edinburgh area. Prepared to share. PNS employs freelance parent-facilitators to run courses on parenting and family relationships for parents and carers. Contact Heather Gordon, 0131 555 6780


JOBS: 71 vacancies, incl. posts with: Watch Us Grow, Volunteer Development Scotland, Spruce Carpets, SCVO, Connector, Northwest Economic Network, McSensce, Fresh Start, Social Enterprise Academy.


EVENTS: Triodos Bank, Evening Celebrating Social Enterprise, Glasgow, 9 Dec; Homing In On… Community Development: are social enterprises and development trusts the answer? Edinburgh, 15 Dec; Finding Out About Energy’, Dundee, 15 Jan 2005



Ernesto Sirolli’s recent visit to Scotland  sparked  interest in his special brand of enterprise facilitation so he’s back – in Inverness on 13th December and Edinburgh on 14th December.  These are limited number events which are more or less full – but if you are really keen to attend either Inverness or Edinburgh, contact Colin Campbell ( Senscot is co-hosting the events – with HIE and Highland Council.



If the South Uist Community buy out proceeds it would involve almost all of South Uist, Benbecula and Eriskay (3670 residents).  Following public meetings, ballots will be held with a 50% majority required.  Professor Ian McMacneil – hereditary Macneil clan chief – has transferred ownership of the islands of Barra and Vatersay to the Scottish Executive.  An eventual move to community ownership is intended.  There is an obvious link between the empowerment through ownership of local communities – and the spread of social enterprise.  10 years ago, for example, community-owned village shops were unheard of – now there are around 150 of them.




This week’s bulletin profiles a community based Housing Association on Bute, in Argyll that is also involved in wider action activities in the area. Fyne Homes Ltd has been around for over 40 years and serves the communities of Bute, Cowal, Mid Argyll and Kintyre. It provides quality affordable housing in these areas through new build and rehabilitation. In addition to its housing role, Fyne Homes Ltd has also established the Bute Recycling Centre in partnership with ButeWaste Watchers. The Centre has proved to be a great success as an additional educational resource for local schools and has been recognised with two separate awards at the 2004 Dynamic Place Awards. For further info’, see (project profiles)



For thirty years Alice Miller’s work on Child Development has informed my own understanding. Her stories portray abused and silenced children who later become destructive to themselves and to others.           ‘For their development children need the respect and protection of adults who take them seriously, love them, and honestly help them to become oriented in the world.  When these vital needs are frustrated and children are, instead, abused for the sake of adults’ needs, then their integrity will be lastingly impaired.  If mistreated children are not to become criminals or mentally ill, it is essential that at least once in their life they come in contact with a person who knows without any doubt that the environment, not the helpless, battered child, is at fault.  In this regard, knowledge or ignorance on the part of society can be instrumental in either saving or destroying a life.’

Special greetings and solidarity to our colleagues, all the youth workers out there who catch young anger on our behalf.


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

Best wishes,



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