Senscot Bulletin: 06.02.09

Dear members and friends,

Just watched a DVD of Ken Loach’s ‘My name is Joe’ – set in his home territory by Glasgow writer Paul Laverty.  Superb!  Joe is a recovering alcoholic (like me) – who runs a football team of bampots (been there) and embarks on a mid life love affair with a social worker, both of them wary, walking wounded (been there too).  The central tension in the story arises when one of the football lads falls foul of drugs and gangsters – Joe feels obliged to get involved – messily – risking his relationship with Sara.  ‘‘We don’t all live in your nice tidy world,’’ he tells her ‘‘some of us can’t go to the police for help – or the bank for a loan – can’t move house and feck off out of here.  Some of us don’t have a choice.’’
 I’m more socialist than capitalist – gross inequality is so obviously dysfunctional – corrosive – but I’ve always resisted a simplistic `class analysis` of society – inherent conflict – the goodies v the baddies – too rigid for me. This film challenges my politics. Peter Mullen’s character. Joe, is completely believable – a decent, spirited bloke – a stunted life on the dole in a Glasgow scheme. He deserves a break – Hollywood would rescue him, “… and in one bound Joe is free.” – but Loach doesn’t do `happy ever after` – leaves him, and us, with more questions than answers. They are real and painful questions – about wasted lives – and this is a superb film.

I wonder how many government ministers over the years have gone on to enjoy the sinecure of a bank directorship.  Cosseted by successive governments our banks lost touch with reality – abandoned any sense of social responsibility to ordinary citizens – particularly the poor.  Much heartened this week by the news that Peter Mandelson’s people are floating the idea of the Post Office becoming a `Peoples Bank` with specifically social aims.  Regular readers will be aware that Senscot – along with New Economics Foundation and others – has campaigned for years for such a move.  A People’s Bank, facing towards the poorest in society, will inherit a skilled and dedicated tier of thousands of volunteers across the UK, in credit unions, community agencies and church organisations, who understand how to make this work.  The People’s Bank is a powerful idea whose time has arrived – a new major national institution is within reach.  Good Guardian piece. 

News this week that SIS – with £30m to invest – has appointed a successor to Scott Anderson who retires in March. Craig Campbell, former head of Community Banking at HBOS and well-kent round the scene, will take up post in March. We wish both well – Scott, as he pursues new ventures and Craig, as he takes up the mantle at this exciting time for our sector. See press release,

During this years economic forum at Davos, an article was circulated written by Peter Blom the CEO of Triodos Bank which summarises the three reasons why sustainable banks were relatively unaffected by the world banking crisis. 

There was a high profile consultation in Scotland about the money to be released from dormant bank accounts – how it should be spent.  A report on the consultation has gone to Ministers who are considering their priorities. The outcome of their findings is due out at the end of March. Here’s an update from Govt website with consultation summaries.  In England, a high powered Task Force has recommended that the top priority for the money should be a Social Investment Bank. 
It seems to me fundamental that a healthy democracy will find ways of fostering independent civil action – including dissent.  The story of the Salford Star is a salutary one because the independent community press in Scotland is practically extinct. 

The Bulletin is a free service but until the end of February (three more weeks), Senscot will continue to invite subscriptions and donations. The attachment gives details and lists our supporters for 2009. See

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: incl. posts with CBS Network, Central Scotland Forest Trust, Printability Scotland Ltd, Community Woodlands Association, Voluntary Arts Scotland, Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, Evaluation Support Scotland
EVENTS:  Getting Started with Videoconferencing, Prescience Communications, 26 Feb; Fit for Purpose, Senscot, 3 Mar; ‘Surviving Recession’ Business Forum, SSEC, 3 Mar; CRNS, CRNS 4TH Annual Conference & Awards, 10 Mar; Stress Awareness at Work, Fife Employment Access Trust, 13 Mar

NETWORKS 1st News: Fit for Purpose ’09, which will look at the positive impact that social enterprise can have on public health, is now full and we have opened a waiting list. The event is taking place at the Story Telling Centre in Edinburgh and will see presentations on Public Social Partnerships, SROI, and Community Benefit Clauses. See more, Network News,

This year’s S2S, Scotland premier social enterprise event, takes place on 23rd April at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh. Antonia Swinson (from the Coalition) tells us that places are filling up fast. Antonia is particularly keen to see stalls taken up by social enterprises that are ready to trade with one another. Here’s the booking info`,

Our readers will want to know about the government’s child voucher scheme – a major commitment to provide flexible and affordable childcare.  Here’s an explanatory note. 

Last week’s bulletin highlighted the fact that the Governments Enterprise Fund is now open for business ( £250k will be set aside as part of a new Credit Union Fund. Small grants will be available to help Credit Unions increase their capacity, capability and financial sustainability. See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles Erskine – a charity that provides nursing and medical care for former members of the Armed Forces. To support their valuable work, Erskine has developed a number of commercial businesses. These include a printing business, garden centre and café, training and conference centre as well a furniture business providing a range of equipment for Centre Parcs Holiday Centres. More recently, they have also launched an online shop. For more, see 

Came across this snippet from the late journalist, Conor Cruise O’Brien – dated 14th November 1982:

 ‘‘My problem is that I used to be an atheist and happy enough in that condition.  Then I ran out of lack of faith, and found myself unable not to believe in God.  It has to be put in that negative way, unfortunately, because that is the way it is.  Bleak and a bit scary.’’
Compare this to the reported remark of Graham Greene.  From the journal of Fr Leopoldo Duran, Vigo, 8th July 1987.  “Breakfast with Graham Greene – for over an hour we held a far reaching discussion about his faith.  Graham said `Each day I have less and less belief`- then, after a pause – `but the trouble is that I don’t believe my unbelief`.’’ 

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

Best wishes,

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