Senscot Bulletin 04-06-2004



Dear members and friends,


Tuesday starts well – e-mail says venture – long assumed ‘lost at sea’ – may yet reach harbour.  Daydreams of booty.  And Tina’s housewarming this evening.  Trawl charity shops for pressie – find superb translucent white bowl – Limoges – fill it with kilo of beautiful cherries from Tesco.  Fair chuffed.

            Park at Victoria Quay – set off on foot with cherry bowl – brown felt Fedora at jaunty angle.  But Leith still has grotty bits alongside the new dockside developments.  Wrong turning – unfamiliar alleyway of boarded up tenements – four street people sitting on the pavement in a pool of evening sunlight – three men and a woman – passing round bottle of wine.  Feel a bit anxious but keep walking – woman says, ‘Here comes John Wayne,’ cackling.  As I pass, raise my Fedora, ‘Howdy M’am’ but she blocks my way.  ‘We’re two quid short for a bottle’.  Her eyes are lost – beyond.  Give her £2.

            Swish dockside loft apartment – good gathering – more family scene than heavy bevvy.  Find myself dramatising the John Wayne story a bit – nearly a mugging.  ‘Weren’t you terrified?’  ‘Well, maybe a bit.’  From the party I remember a thin wee boy with a nervous twitch – trying too hard for approval.  The chilling look of hostility from his Dad stays with me like a slap.  Keep thinking of this child’s future – trying so hard – feeling bad – not knowing why.  This incident affects me more than it should – more than the bag lady.  New e-mail – the ship has sunk.  Tuesday ends badly.



The draft Scottish Charities Bill was published last week and SCVO are to be commended for their role in bringing this about – a campaign that goes back many years.  But before we all go back to sleep – last week also saw the further postponement of the Social Economy Action Plan (if that’s what it’s still called).  When we heard the news of a further re-write – we started laughing – but in truth it is not funny – and if this is an example of how our Executive makes policy – it’s deeply troubling.  Our voluntary sector’s 50,000 organisations encompass the institutions which make up civic society.  Collectively they provide the solidarity which makes society work.  It is not acceptable that Government can treat our work with so little regard – can ignore us with impunity.  The main lesson in all this for me is that our sector needs a representative organisation, which can punch with our collective weight.  ‘And then they would fear you.’  (



Until June 14th consultations continue towards the creation of a new Co-operative Development Agency to promote and advise the growth of co-operatives here in Scotland.  There is strong political support for this initiative and it is hoped that responses to consultation can be incorporated during autumn so that the new agency can launch in early 2005.  (



Senscot is happy to partner events around Scotland to stimulate the growth of social enterprises.  In June we’re doing two with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to help former coalfield communities look at how social enterprise can help create wealth – employment – high quality services: June 23rd in Sanquhar and June 30th in Livingston. On June 21st we’re in the Borders with CESEL when two friends of Senscot, Jay Lamb and Elaine Richards will talk about how they set up their enterprises. More information from



Today Senscot is advertising to recruit a manager for our Exchange project.  The key idea it to broker help between successful, confident social entrepreneurs and new emerging ones.  This project aims to deal in a more systematic way with the increasing number of requests we get for help and contacts.  (



If you intend too come to the AGM please let Emma know – to order your lunch 1.30-5pm, Teacher Building, Glasgow, Thursday 17th June 2004. Contact



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: 69 vacancies, incl: Push, The Yard, Senscot, Govanhill Community Development Trust, Roots in the Community, Parkhead Youth Project, Community One Stop Shop, SCVO, Groundswell UK.


EVENTS: Edinburgh University Settlement IT Summer School, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep; ‘Creative Conviction’ workshop at Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair, 11 June; ‘Hitting the target, missing the point’ – Evaluation Services Workshops, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aviemore 11th, 14th, 17th June; ‘A wee blether about…Culture!’ Voluntary Arts Scotland Event, Edinburgh 8 June; ‘One World Peace and Justice’ concert, Edinburgh, 12 June; ‘Intro To Economic Development’ EDAS, Glasgow 16 June.


CAN YOU HELP: Organic companies, or companies supplying organic businesses are asked to become part of the Royal Highland Show first ‘Organic Trail’. Anyone interested who might be exhibiting or have a stand at the event, can contact Kara Brydson (Scottish Food and Drink)  


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



The Scottish Executive is inviting notes of interest from organisations interested in tendering to administer the new £5m Strategic Waste Fund: Community Sector.  Advertisements appeared in The Big Issue and TFN and many networks (like Senscot) received notices.  This widening of the procurement net beyond the usual suspects is to be welcomes.  If the Executive conduct this in an open and flexible way it will be an example to other commissioners and could stimulate new creative partnerships in our sector.  (



This week’s bulletin profiles COPE Ltd (Community Opportunities for Participation in Enterprise) which offers Adults with Learning Disabilities the opportunity to plan, participate in, and manage their own small businesses. Established in 1997 and based in Shetland, COPE Ltd operates on two merging levels; the first is providing on-going training and support programmes and secondly, the opportunity to plan, develop and manage a number of small business initiatives. To do so, they have established a dedicated enterprise centre in Lerwick from where a number of social firms such as COPE Tree Nursery, Best Bite Sandwiches and most recently The Shetland Soap Company have emerged.  For further info’, see (project profiles)



Although hundreds of small businesses go bust every week the collapse of the high profile social enterprise, Aspire, has caused a real stushie.  It was/is a great idea.  Homeless people were paid to deliver fair trade catalogues and process orders through Aspire’s warehouses.  They built up a database of 30,000 customers.  In the attached article the man who built the business Paul Harrod talks (very sensibly) about what went wrong.  Harrod says, ‘There was a lot of encouragement to grow – the social outcomes were there – but we just grew too quickly without building a sustainable business model first.’  (



‘If the world is changing faster outside your organisation than in – the end is near.’ – Jack Welch



People often ask if these wee stories I tell are ‘true’, to which I reply, ‘They are to me.’  This answer is not meant to be evasive – it just acknowledges that truth is subjective.  The late BS Johnson, an avant-garde writer, put it well, ‘Life does not tell stories.  Life is chaotic, fluid, random; it leaves ends untied, untidily.  Storytellers (and that’s all of us) can extract a story from life only by strict, close selection, and this must mean falsification.  Telling stories is really telling lies.’  Perhaps the only valid test of the ‘truth’ of any story is whether it is recognisable to the listener as ‘true to life’!  It is easier to believe the impossible than the improbable.


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

Best wishes,



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