Senscot Bulletin: 04-11-2005


Dear members and friends,

Churchill said, ‘I’ve taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.’ He had a way with words, old Winston. That’s how it felt with me – for most of my drinking life, but there came a time when this was no longer so – alcohol got the upper hand. I stopped drinking because I suppose deep down I wanted to go on living usefully for a bit longer – even sober. But it was a close decision – 3 years later it still is. At the end of the day we all have to play the hand we’re dealt. It’s tough out there. No one can make us want to live. Some folk don’t make it. George Best’s sad story carries powerful symbolism for people – very different reactions. Maybe the angry ones are afraid of their own self-destruct impulse.
Many vagrant alcoholics don’t care whether they live or die – they’ve let go of hope. I often ask colleagues whether they discern any common characteristics among rough sleepers; a phrase, which recurs, is ‘they’re too open to emotional pain’. As though a ‘normal’ defensive layer is missing. Psychiatrists Ronnie Laing believed that we elect others to live out the chaos that we refuse to confront in ourselves. By this means, we escape a certain anxiety – but only at the expense of the relatively defenceless. Folk sleeping in doorways are more part of our world than we’d like to pretend.

Scotland is ruled by the Labour Party – always has been in my time and there’s not much prospect of a change.  It is therefore more important to follow what the various factions within the Parliamentary Labour Group are up to than it is any notional opposition party.  But our political commentators are shy about telling us who’s in these groups – or what they stand for.  The Herald’s Douglas Fraser was more explicit last week: ‘The two dominant strands in the Labour Party are on the one side, the community-based politics represented particularly by the women who represent a majority of labours Holyrood Group; on the other side the municipal tendency of those schooled in West Central Scotland’s council chambers, with their close ties to trade unions.’  Fraser believes that the municipalists are actually trying to prevent the secondary transfer of GHA stock to 60 odd local housing associations (LHAs). In our parliament yesterday Jack McConnell warned the GHA that it has no grounds to centralise management of its stock. Some MSPs want Communities Scotland (the GHA’s regulator) to threaten deregulation if this is not sorted quickly.

Futurebuilders Scotland (FBS) is administered by Communities Scotland which is part of government. Futurebuilders England (FBE) is an independent non-profit company, set up by a voluntary sector consortium. The English version seems to be more directly focussed on developing the capacity of social enterprises to enable them to do business with public service purchasers. FBE has a chief executive, Richard Gulch, who is becoming increasingly proactive in pushing the role of the third sector in service delivery. His short piece in Wednesday’s Guardian gives a good perspective on the way things are moving.

This week saw the first meeting of a new Local Social Enterprise Network in Edinburgh. 9 organisations were represented and agreed on the formation of a regular network. The next meeting is likely to take place in January. There are now nine networks operating around the country. Over the next month, Senscot will be speaking to a number of people in Glasgow to gauge if there is sufficient interest in a network or networks for Glasgow. We’d welcome any thoughts on this.

Senscot has circulated 300 bulletins over the past 6 years with the result that our website contains hundreds of documents pertaining to social enterprise. Our staff have revamped our homepage to include a Google search engine which word searches our entire archive.

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:

JOBS: 51 vacancies, incl. posts with: Children in Scotland, BTCV Scotland, The Action Group, Capability Scotland, Open Door Fife, CVS Fife, The Wise Group, Young Scot Enterprise, Ownership Options

EVENTS: Cultural Enterprise Office, Artists working in community contexts’, 10 Nov, Edinburgh; EDAS, 6th Annual Conference, 25 Nov; SURF, St Andrews Day 2005, 30 Nov

Devastating news of the death, yesterday morning, of Colin MacLeod of GalGael, aged 39 – a warrior poet – one of the giants of our Sector. Deepest sympathy to Gehan and all the family. We’re numbed by this.

Andy Milne (SURF) informs us of a free event exploring the applicability of Cultural Planning to regeneration strategies. It is geared to offer meaningful community input into the Community Planning process on the back of the Cultural Commission Report

Recently, we told about Holmehill Ltd’s action against the Scottish Executive’s refusal to register their late registration of interest in land. The case goes to Stirling Sheriff Court on 14th November. Also, Stakis Ltd, who want to sell the land, have lined up against them. Holmehill are being supported by DTA Scotland and Andy Wightman. The outcome of this case will have significant implications for communities’ ability to take advantage of the Land Reform Act. Having incurred significant costs to date, Holmehill would welcome any donations or pledges of support. Andy Wightman offers some comments. For more info’, see

Edward Harkins writes to tell us of his recent positive experience with the UK Co-operative Group. His impression is of a movement striving strongly to regenerate itself and, with an influx of new elected members, asks whether social enterprise and the Co-operative model ought to be active allies and partners at community level. See

George Bernard Shaw: ‘If you have and apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you an I will still have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.’

This week’s bulletin profiles an organisation that has been serving the communities of Greater Maryhill and the North West of Glasgow for over 28 years – Central Community Halls (CCH). As well as being a large community facility, CCH manages 13 separate projects that include nursery provision, day care fpor the elderly, Youth service and a well used café. They provide a wide range of opportunities for every member of the community over 3000 people per week use the facilities and services. With a staff of 96, CCH has a turnover of £1.4m per annum, the majority of which is self-generated. For further info’, see

From Alan Bennett’s ‘Forty years on’  ‘There are three things liberal school masters always do, the first opportunity they get.  The first is to abolish corporal punishment.  The second is to abolish compulsory games.  The third is to abolish the cadet corps.  They think it makes the sensitive boys happy.  In my experience sensitive boys are never happy, so what’s the point?’

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

Best wishes,

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