Senscot Bulletin: 05.12.14

Dear members and friends,
             Sunday, where I live, was like a beautiful early autumn day – rather than a Scottish December; spent the afternoon gardening in bright sunshine; an awareness of diminishing strength makes physical tasks more, not less, satisfying. Got into the zone – pruning the climbers – cutting back the dead growth of herbaceous shrubs – patching the lawn – and of course frost protection. Some stuff needs covered in straw – some to come indoors.
            Winter equinox this year is 21st December – then the ‘survival’ months of January and February – which ask their own particular questions of old folk. Preparing the garden for winter is only part of it; the central heating boiler and the Panda have had their MOTs; some roof tiles replaced – the burning wood stacked etc. My general health is good – had the flu jab – various other tests revealed nothing sinister. Bring it on.
            Sunday, on my knees happily scraping patches of moss from the lawn – I suddenly ‘realise’ that I’m just an ordinary bloke like everyone else and this is perfectly fine. That I have all the usual human weaknesses – that sometimes I have nobler impulses – just like everyone else. While I’m sure that this is obvious to everyone – it feels to me like an insight of great significance. I’ve had it a few times now. I should emphasise that this enlightenment only comes in glimpses; that if you press the reset button I revert to the conviction that I am uniquely gifted – and know better than everyone else.        
We still have copies of Laurence’s book ‘Kindness’; a selection of Bulletin intros from 2007 – 2012. See,
I don’t get the sense that the proposals from the Smith Commission have settled anything; we fulfilled the vow – no you didn’t – yes we did etc. Very clever mandarins from Whitehall will now play with this – in the context of English politics. – could go anywhere. Attention moved for a while to the SNP – the launch of our fresh new first minister; now we can expect the festive break to put everything to sleep for a while. Next May the Scottish people will pass judgment on the Labour party – what future it has in Scotland. My preference is that a new, radical, pro indy coalition will take shape around the Green Party – in time for the 2016 Holyrood elections. These are hopeful times. The most useful discussions about this stuff are in the online newspapers – here’s Gordon Morgan in Bella Caledonia. See,
The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) appears to be well run – but the English Charity Commission has had its troubles – and has brought in a new CEO called Paula Sussex. This week she expressed her surprise at the lack of ‘mature debate’ in the English sector about its future – see, Andy Benson is well known down south as an outspoken campaigner for the independence of the third sector. He told a seminar in London this week that cutbacks have left many smaller voluntary organisations struggling for survival – and that ‘leadership’ organisations like NCVO, ACEVO etc had failed to sustain a national conversation about this crisis. See,
Hackney Community Transport (HTC Group) is a social enterprise with 800 employees and a turnover last year of £43m. CEO since 1993, Dai Powell is much ‘respected’ in the trade but I must take issue with his latest blog. Dai claims that it is ‘absolute and utter nonsense’ to say that there is anything morally wrong with making a profit from the alleviation of human suffering. I disagree with him. The rest of the blog is sound – similar to the Scottish Community Re:Investment Trust’s (SCRT) proposals.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Turning Point, Rocket Science, Edinburgh University Students Association, Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, Remade in Edinburgh, Bloombox Salads (3 positions).
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Xmas Arts Market & Open Studio, 06 Dec; Cinderella by Ecole Enterprise, 10 Dec; Social Impact Measurement, 11 Dec; Out of the Blue Xmas Market & Bruncheon, 13 Dec
TENDERS: Housing Support to Women Experiencing or at Risk of Violence, North Ayrshire Council; Disability Information, Advice, Support and Counselling, West Lothian Council; Professional Confidential Counselling Service, North Lanarkshire Council; See,
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Next Wednesday, 10th December, Glasgow SEN is hosting Glasgow’s first Social Enterprise Trade Show at WASPs in The Briggait. The Trade Show is aimed at businesses and the general public and is an opportunity to come and see the wide range of products and services available from social enterprises in the city. As well as exhibitors, the programme for the day is packed with speakers, demonstrations and performances. The event will also see GSEN and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau launch the People Make Glasgow Enterprising Brand. The full programme for the day is available online. See,
For more SENs News, see  
News this week that our pal, David Cook, is moving on from WASPs. After 23 years at the helm, David is now looking at new challenges. He deserves enormous credit for his work over the years, transforming WASPs from a small arts charity into a much larger and self-funding cultural social enterprise – that now supports around 1,000 artists and designers. Good luck with your adventures, David. See,
The Ecology Centre in Kinghorn, Fife was set up by local people back in 1998 with a view to developing land adjacent to Kinghorn Loch for community use. The site is now a well-managed area of biodiversity and a haven for natural wildlife. The Centre has also developed its own education programmes as well as a trading subsidiary – Out of the Wood. Their long term goal, however, was always to purchase the land and build their own purpose-built Centre. This dream has finally come to fruition. In July, with monies from the Scottish Land Fund, they secured the land and, last week, secured around £1m from the Lottery’s Growing Community Assets Programme to build their new Centre. Work begins in January. Congratulations all round
I love stories which involve local people taking power to themselves – and just getting on with it. This link is about residents of Toxteth in Liverpool who negotiated outside help – created a Community Land Trust (CLT) and set about all manner of local developments. See,
This week sees the opening of The Experience – a themed entertainment and events venue, based in Hillington, Glasgow – and housing Scotland’s only electric Go-karting Arena. The Experience is the latest of a long list of social ventures developed by Kibble. Like all of Kibble’s social enterprises, The Experience will provide employment opportunities for young people who experience barriers to employment. For more on what The Experience has to offer, see
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that is the largest watersports and activity centre in Scotland. Port Edgar Watersports (PEW), based at South Queensferry, has been established to help get people of all ages out on the water – providing activities sailing to powerboating, with courses for beginners to those more advanced. Operating as a social enterprise, PEW’s assets are locked in to the business and any profits generated are used to upgrade equipment and to fund further opportunities for people with physical and learning disabilities as well as young people who are involved in the care system in Scotland. For more, see
This is an extract from ‘Finding the Rhythm’ by Stephen Jenkinson (full piece linked). I find it a beautifully wise piece – which seems to suggest that older people move closer to discovering what they were ‘born to do’.


“And so your life might go, as you quicken to your purpose: you get far enough into the sway of it to learn that you’ve been playing everything around the Rhythm, everything but the Rhythm itself, trying all the possibilities you found until all that’s left is to be played by the simple, ragged syncopation of your days. That’s when the Rhythm finally is able to have its way with you. That’s how finding what you were born to do seems to be, like answering at last someone who’s been calling your name faithfully for years.
You play the rhythms and you learn the Rhythm, and you move accordingly: the ancestors of us all would have known that as the way of human being."


See full piece


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210