Senscot Bulletin: 06-01-2005


Dear members and friends,

Over in Spain to escape weather and merriment. Arrive to dark skies – roaring mountainous seas, gale blowing sand off the beach, the cluster of cottages where I stay nearly deserted. My accommodation is clean and modern but not well heated. Storm wakes me in night – cough, sore throat, temperature. Feel abandoned. Wish I was home in my own bed. The following days are overcast and cold. A mild flu settles on me – my usual chest infection. Find an English doctor – 55 euros for consultation, 22 euros for penicillin, 43 euros for new convector heater. Spend week mostly in bed – reading, sleeping, a bit unreal but not unpleasant.
 Wake this morning to warm sunshine – feel weak but on the mend – venture forth to supermarket. Bump into Harry, former golf acquaintance – seems older, more forlorn (or maybe that’s me). We agree to meet for supper this evening. Though I can’t be bothered, I’m prompt – but he doesn’t arrive. Then I remember I should have been here an hour earlier – remorse. Decide to eat anyway – crispy duck and pancakes – not great. My fortune cookie has a quote from the I Ching: “Honour your error as a hidden intention”. This would suggest that I didn’t rally want to meet Harry – that my mind played a trick. It’s true – we don’t even like each other. New Year’s resolution: try to be with people I care about – and tell them so.

David Miliband, the UK Minister for Communities and Local Government made an important statement during the festive break. He’s working on a White Paper which will effect “the biggest shake-up of local government for a generation.” He wants community empowerment to be one of the key themes of government policy and is talking about shifting decisions and administration for certain functions down to neighbourhood level. Proposals include delegated budgets and new community powers to acquire and manage property. But will these ground-breaking proposals be adopted in Scotland? Miliband’s community portfolio is a devolved matter and his determination to shift power is not shared by our municipalist parliamentarians. His White Paper will probably be ignored. It would be good to think that grass roots support will bring pressure to bear on our MSPs, but the community sector in Scotland doesn’t have a voice.

“How can we harness the vitality and innovation of the social enterprise sector to improve the NHS?” Tory Leader David Cameron asked this question on Wednesday and I think it’s a question we should take seriously because this is a gigantic market. Senscot could play a role in helping to identify opportunities and co-ordinate responses. Contact: (Cameron speech: 

John Pearce, author of ‘Social Enterprise in Anytown’, gave a talk in Dublin last month called ‘The Future of Social Enterprise’ which is well worth a read. John believes that we should ‘celebrate the difference’ of the social economy from the other sectors – its unique values and principles – in particular not pretending we’re the same as private business – “It’s the difference that matters.” Controversially, he believes that social enterprises should enjoy fiscal benefits but that they should be regulated through a form of ‘kite mark’ to show they’re genuine. (    

For several years ‘Upstarts’ awards have been bestowed on many organisations, highlighting the value of social enterprise in Britain. The new ‘Edge upstarts’ awards will recognise the actual individuals involved. This year’s nominations close 31 March 2006.

NOTICES/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: 27 vacancies, incl. posts with: Community Woodlands Association, Merkinch Development Ventures, Gorebridge Health & Regeneration Project, Bits and Bobs (Committee member), Capital City Partnership,

EVENTS: McSence course in IT, communication and call centre skills for people with disabilities, starts 17 Jan; ‘Rural Housing/Rural Development – Making Connections’, Dunkeld, 23 Feb.

Last month, it was announced that Credit Unions are now set to offer banking services. From next autumn, a selected number will offer a bank account with a debit card that can be used in shops or cash machines. The accounts will be run and promoted by individual credit unions with administrative support coming from the Co-op Bank. (   

CEiS has appointed a new CEO. Gerry Higgins, Director of Business Development with Social Firms UK, will take up post at the end of February. We wish Gerry the best of luck in his new post.

Three snippets from the current issue of Resurgence magazine: BIODIVERSITY: Four out of five children with leukaemia are saved by the rosy periwinkle, now grown commercially, but originally from the tropical forests of Madagascar (World Wildlife Fund). POLLUTION: A whale washed up on the coast of France in 2003 had 800 kilos of plastic bags in its stomach (Ode magazine). WASTE: During their lifetime the average British citizen goes through twelve washing machines, ten refrigerators, eight cookers, six microwaves, five heating systems, three dryers and two freezers (Green Futures).

This week, we profile a social enterprise that aims to empower people to stop smoking. Quit&Save, based in Stirling, offers a smoking cessation service to help and support people in this process. Their service offers the opportunity to take part in a structured programme of classes that include; learning how to stop smoking, getting support from fellow quitters, holding regular meetings as well as a full support service. Quit&Save is also creating a training programme to allow ex-smokers to run “Quit Clubs” across the country.  Materials, systems, forms and full training will be provided.  This will follow an earned income model where Club Leaders will be paid to run local sessions in the community. For further info’, see  

Received the brochure/programme for the third International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace which will run from 8th Feb – 12th March. This is an impressive achievement by social entrepreneur Neill Walker, director of Edinburgh International Centre for World Spiritualities. As well as relations among spiritual traditions, the festival celebrates diverse arts and cultural traditions. Brochure available from Neill Walker at, more info at:

I no longer know what our main political parties stand for. Groucho Marx once quipped, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them – well, I have others.” A fitting motto for our times. In the Sixteenth Century, Michel de Montaigne wrote “Our understanding is conducted solely by means of the word; anyone who falsifies it betrays public society. It is the only tool by which we communicate our wishes and our thoughts. It is our soul’s interpreter; if we lack that we can no longer hold together; we can no longer know each other. When words deceive us it breaks all intercourse and loosens the bond of our polity.” He was right. The spin doctors degrade the shared understanding which holds us together.

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

Best wishes,

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