Senscot Bulletin: 04-05-2007

Dear members and friends,

Some Councils is Scotland want to make begging a criminal offence. I deplore these moves – beware the New Puritans. I’ve always enjoyed thinking of tramps as philosophers who, seeing the sham in the game of life choose exile. Of course this is nonsense – like the other myth that beggars make a fortune duping honest citizens. The truth is that most of the individuals who live on our streets are broken – by mental illness or some major life trauma. Deep hurt has caused them to walk away from their life – to close down. With time and good luck some may heal themselves – but early death is as likely.
 In a film call Thornweed, Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep memorably portray the demise of two such individuals. Unable to handle relationships – to manage a tenancy – habitually drunk – they’ve used up what social capital they had. Horizons have shrunk to a place to sleep tonight – the price of a bottle – hope ebbs away – don’t much care whither they live or die.
 A city councillor said last week that it is distressing for citizens to encounter beggars. This may be because they remind us that a person can be defeated. As children we were told that the human spirit is not tested beyond endurance. Not so. In the grown up world, some people don’t make it.

Not many readers will know about the Community Voices Network (CVN) yet it is Communities Scotland’s main linkage with regeneration activists around the country. An external evaluation has recently concluded what many observers feared – that it is not very effective. From the outset CVN was designed as a ‘managed’ process – without teeth. People are not stupid – they know when something is pretend. If the Executive really wants bottom up policy (which I don’t believe) – local people on individual partnerships need to connect at regional level – and then nationally. The process is essentially bureaucratic and requires a serious secretariat to produce all the bumpf. Scotland’s activists deserve such a mechanism but the only thing that makes this work is for power and control to rest with the voluntary participants – and that’s not what our Executive does.

Been looking forward to this election for months – what a let down. Mid-day Friday – total disarray. The country seems split 50-50 between Labour and the SNP. Danger of a period of fractious indecision – civil servants doing what they want .McConnell looks burnt-out – Salmond should get a run at it. We need a change. Sad the small parties got crushed.

Interesting article sent in this week from Stanford University entitled, ‘Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition’. It’s quite long but argues that as the profile of sector increases, it has also become less clear about what exactly a social entrepreneur is and does. All sorts of activities are now being called social entrepreneurship. The authors believe that it’s time for a more rigorous definition. I believe the opposite – that it should be understood as widespread – perhaps 1% or 2 % of the actual population. Here’s the link

Development Trust Association Scotland’s annual conference is not so much a business meeting as a social gathering of the Trusts from all across the country. This year’s event is 9-10 June, Crichton Hotel, Dumfries. Keynote speakers are Willy Roe of HIE, Peter McGurn of Goodwin Development Trust, and Mark Edwards, author of ‘Hard Rain’: If you’re interested in Mark Edwards presenting directly to your group or community, contact Alan Caldwell (Comrie Development Trust) at . More info:

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: 42 vacancies, incl. posts with: Equal Futures, Rolls on Wheels, The Soap Co (Edinburgh), Six Mary’s Place, Fife Miners Community Culture Group, Forth Sector, Garrison House (Cumbrae) Ltd, Nisus Scotland,

EVENTS: 15 events, incl. No Small Matter, Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum seminar on small towns, Edinburgh, May 15; Community Cohesion & the Equality Agenda for the 21st Century, SECC, 24 May; Fly Right Dance Company, Midsummer Madness Family Ball, Haddington 23 June.

John Connell from Glasgow Caledonian University tells us that they are working on a part-time Post Graduate Certificate in Social Enterprise. The course is in the developmental stages and they would welcome the views of bulletin readers on the course design. Attached is a short questionnaire – it takes about 5 mins to fill in.

One of the USA’s leading social entrepreneurs is visiting our shores next month. Jim Schorr (Executive Director of San Francisco-based Juma Ventures) will be over as a guest of Kibble. During his visit, Kibble and Senscot are hosting a ‘masterclass’ at the Glenhill Hotel in Paisley on 5th June. There are limited places available at £50 per head. For more info’, see or contact

First Port is the amalgamation of the Senscot Exchange and Scotland UnLtd into a ‘first port of call’ for social enterprise start-ups. Currently they are recruiting staff, including Billy Singh’s old job in the West. Jay Lamb will join First Port from June. See details:

This week’s bulletin profiles a unique social enterprise that aims is to offer simple and effective pain management techniques and training that will lead towards the creation of an integrated multi-disciplinary wellbeing centre and a model for health delivery at community level. Intlife Pain intends to fill gaps that currently exist in the NHS pain management service and intends to offer its services free to low income individuals and those living in less affluent areas. Intlife Pain has recently been established as a community interest company last December and will be operating from Pentagon Centre in Glasgow. For more info’, see

I’m enjoying the Journals of John Fowles – his honest quest for self understanding – the solace he found in nature. 22nd March 1975.

“I was down just above the bottom spring, at dusk, a still evening, it is not so cold; but a sudden strange little wind, the bamboos rustling. I look up, and there is a moon caught in the sallow catkins, at just that complex point of light, the sky dying but still blue, the moon a soft luminous white like an oil-lamp, the catkins, yellow with pollen, on their black twigs; a moment the greenest Zen novice would recognize; quite perfect, poised. The strange thing was the wind, as if the moon had breathed to make me look up.”

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 See: