Senscot Bulletin: 04-04-08

Dear members and friends,

From 1976 to 1990 (aged 36 to 50), I was a community worker in Edinburgh’s Wester Hailes housing estate – Saturday was the retiral party for a close colleague and friend from that time  – lots of old faces – memories. During the 1980’s, Alan McGregor’s team from Glasgow Yooni considered our community structures amongst the most effective in the UK. We subdivided the area into neighbourhoods – got folk involved right down to street level. The community operated its own social hubs, shops, care services, training, youth work, newspaper, property development etc. Most impressive of all was the system of grassroots democracy – which scared the pants off the Council. Those were the days when Scotland was a one party state – a centralist Labour machine which wanted no truck with outbreaks of community independence – which moved against us – to restore inertia
At Saturday’s bash, us auld yins sat together moaning about Edinburgh Council’s systematic demolition of all we’d built over the years – it felt like the end of an era. At the table was a ten year old boy, Jack, listening wide-eyed to his dad – to all of us – swapping stories about the glory days. By the look on his face, it seems a sure thing that Jack in turn will become a community leader. It struck me that the impulse for community is hard-wired in us all. The good stuff that happened here on our watch is not dead, I thought, it’s part of the oral tradition which continues to shape the future – and so it goes on.
(200 of these intros can be browsed here –

England’s Communities Department (DCLG) recently announced its intention to publish a white paper on Community Empowerment – but last week the English Development Trusts Association (DTA) circulated all its members to say that the white paper’s approach is ‘fundamentally wrong’. DCLG is a hybrid department comprising officials from ‘Regeneration’ and ‘Local Government’, with ‘Communities’ bolted on from the Home Office. The first group want community empowerment to address ‘worklessness’; the second group want it to mean partnership working; the third group agree with the DTA – that is about resilient, community owned, anchor organisations. We all know that among civil servants there are those who want to empower communities and there are those who don’t. At DCLG the municipalists have control. DTA are right. The whole community empowerment agenda is in danger of unravelling in a civil servants turf war.

If community empowerment seems to have been ambushed in England where is it in Scotland? Good question! The SNP featured it prominently in its manifesto and got Communities Scotland to do some public consultation at the end of last year. Now we understand the resulting advice is with ministers – but  expectations are being played down. It’s not to be a strategy – not even an action plan – latest prediction is some kind of joint statement of intent with COSLA. How exciting is that? This Administration has gone for social enterprise big time but we’ve not seen any evidence yet that the SNP understands the importance of strong independent communities – which is surprising from the party of independence. Here are 10 Acton Points for empowering communities from last year’s manifesto. This statement of intent will indicate how serious they are.

In 2005, Faisel Rahman launched Social Enterprise Fair Finance in London’s Tower Hamlets – it now operates in 7 London boroughs – more in the pipeline. Fair Finance demonstrates how lending to the poor, the unbanked, can and should be done; the attached interview contains more sense about the financially excluded than I’ve read in a long time – and he’s got a business model which is replicable. Most impressive!
Senscot is looking to recruit a part-time Office Administrator. See details,  To apply, send a CV and covering letter to .Closing date for our Network Development post is Monday 14th April.  Again, if interested, send a CV and covering letter to .

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: 20 vacancies, incl. posts with: Senscot, The Melting Pot Edinburgh, Routes to Work South, Blake Stevenson, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Community One Stop Shop, Re-union Canal Boats
EVENTS: 14 events, Community and Project Development, 9Apr, Edinburgh; Advanced presentation skills workshop, 16 Apr, Glasgow; S2S Third Annual Social Enterprise Trade Fair, 23 Apr, Dundee; Southside Festival, 28 Jun, Glasgow

NETWORKS 1st : This week saw what was supposed to be the official handover to local authorities of responsibility for local business support and economic development functions. Many Network members are still unclear what will be happening. The stories coming back vary considerably from council to council.
For more, see weekly update

The English office of the Third Sector has published a report which looks into social enterprise networks in England (79 of them). It’s interesting to compare this with the emergence of Scotland’s 18 SENs

Di Alexander, who set up the Highlands Small Communities Trust in 1998, was one of Senscot`s earliest network members. He informs us that he is to retire this summer and that the Trust is on the lookout for a new CEO. If you’d like to know more about this post, see

This month sees Scotland’s big social enterprise event, S2S, taking place at the Caird Hall in Dundee on 23rd April. You should be aware that, this year, there`s a charge (£30 for members) and it`s important to book in advance. See booking details As part of proceedings, Firstport will be running `CONNECT 2` – where you can post messages, ask for help in trying to find particular people or information or leave details of expertise you are willing to share.

This week’s bulletin profiles a social firm, set up by Shettleston Housing Association (SHA). UPKEEP is the trading name of Shettleston Community Enterprises Ltd and undertakes a number of key areas of work under a commercial service contract negotiated with SHA. These include environmental maintenance, close cleaning, void clearance, graffiti removal and the handy person service. More recently, UPKEEP has been developing some recycling services, including confidential waste, aluminium cans, second hand furniture, household goods etc. They also hope to secure further contracts with other Glasgow East End social landlords and commercial companies. For more, see

Martin Buber (1878 – 1965) was an Austrian/Jewish philosopher. I had to read this passage a few times but I find it helpful – the distinction between what `I am like` and what `I am`.

‘The person becomes conscious of himself as participating in being, as being-with, and thus as a being. The ego becomes conscious of himself as being this way and not that. The person says, ‘I am’; the ego says, ‘That is how I am.’ ‘Know thyself’ means to the person; know yourself as being. To the ego it means; know your being-that-way. By setting himself apart from others, the ego moves away from being.’

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

Best wishes,

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