Senscot Bulletin: 06-05-2005



(Going out weekly to over 2500)



Dear members and friends,


So Blair is back – but not for long – he knows now – he blew it – has to go.  He and his courtiers seem to live in their own wee bubble of reality – self righteous – indifferent to truth – in service of some ‘higher’ cause allied with American Neo Cons who want to rule the world – like the baddies in a James Bond film.   Messianic leaders are especially prone to ‘lose the plot’ in this way – start to hear voices higher than the electorate – 8 years in the top job is enough.

            Under Blair, presentation has become more important than truth – shadow and substance deliberately confused and manipulated – Del Boy selling dodgy motors – buyer beware.  Last year I was invited to attend intensive day workshop on presentation skills – but it didn’t feel right – like showing off – I was embarrassed.  Told the guy at lunch – ‘Sorry, but it’s not for me.’

            I want to be governed by philosopher poets, not hustlers – folk who are wise beyond personal ambition – who see that at one level this is all a game – that we mustn’t take our roles too seriously. The Buddha’s smile says it. At the same time it’s the only game in town – we can’t afford to get ‘sent off’ either. From Ronnie Laing’s ‘Knots’: ‘They are playing a game – they are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game – of not seeing I see the game’



Watched the final of Alan Sugar’s ‘Apprentice’ on telly.  Enjoyed it – useful programme – introducing enterprise and business tasks to young people.  Something appealing, elemental, about business.  Profit or Loss – easy to keep the score.  Lesley Riddoch’s column in Sunday’s Herald mentioned a social enterprise called TOIL which places unqualified school leavers in employment. ‘One lad, expelled from local school for hitting teacher – trashing classroom – unable to read or write – but mad keen on football.  TOIL placed him with a football crazy plasterer.  The lad turns up early for work – the plasterer goes to watch him play football – teaching him to read the sports pages.’ 

Between Public and Private sector activity there are cracks.  That’s where our businesses take root – we work with people on the edge who ‘have eyes and ears to testify in some way’.  Keeping the score is not so simple for us.



The scientific evidence is overwhelming that climate change threatens the planet – hosting the G8 summit in July gives Scotland an opportunity to raise awareness.  Friends of the Earth are organising a nationwide action called Climate Alarm – a coordinated ringing of alarm bells at 13.45 on 7 July.  13.45 has been chosen because the G8 countries have 13% of the world’s population – but create 45% of the world’s climate pollution – check it out.



From April this year arrangements for the operation of the NHS complaints procedure have changed and the new proposals offer interesting opportunities for Social Enterprises with experience of advocacy, mentoring and support procedures.  Senscot has received a comprehensive briefing paper from Leslie Huckfield Research.



Senscot has been at Manor Place since we launched 6 years ago.  Gradually we have been joined by Scotland UnLtd, DTA Scotland, Social Firms Scotland and the Social Enterprise Academy – together forming a national social enterprise hub.  More office space has become available in our building and Aidan would be happy to chat with anyone looking to relocate: email



Senscot’s AGM will be on 17th June at Edinburgh’s Quaker meeting room – gather at 1pm for 2pm start. Senscot company members will receive special e-mailing.



There can be an innate tension between a social enterprise acting as a hard nose business – and developing a relationship of trust with its community.  Interesting piece from Mark Goyden about local post offices – are they businesses, or an essential social provision? – the mainstay of rural communities.  Mark argues that social entrepreneurs are required to reshape a new role for them.



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: 52 vacancies, incl. posts with: Equal Futures, Fairbridge Edinburgh, The initiative, Shelter Scotland, SCVO, Four Square Scotland, Inclusion Glasgow.


EVENTS: ‘National Standards for Community Engagement’ Conferences, Dundee – 16 May, Glasgow – 18 May, Edinburgh – 20 May; ‘Getting health & safety in the workplace right’- launch of free health & safety service, 18 May 2005, Glasgow;  ‘Making the case for the Social Economy’, conf., Edinburgh – 1 June.


Scotland UnLtd has an online ‘Healthcheck’ survey for social entrepreneurs to help them check their ‘personal state of mind and stress / life balance levels.’ They invite our readers to try it at password is: unltd (NB lower case).



Penicuik Town Hall is called the Cowan Institute as it was gifted to the community by Alexander Cowan in 1898. For 60 years, under local management, it was Penicuik’s main venue for dances and events – as well as offering a gym, billiard hall and library – but then it passed on to the Council. On 1st April, the Council withdrew its services. With the threat of its closure, two packed public meetings have sought to bring the Institute back into community control and have appointed a steering group to create a new development trust.



This week’s bulletin profiles a fast growing housing advice organisation based in Irvine but providing a service throughout North Ayrshire. The Community Housing Advice Project (CHAP) provides assistance to complete housing application, medical, rent and council tax forms and help to give members of the general public an opportunity to have their views heard and respected. Formed in 1997, CHAP has grown from two to eighteen staff over a short period of time and is now providing services from five locations throughout the area. In addition to their own training programmes and a Training Suite for hire, CHAP is generating over 60% of its income through contracts with statutory and other agencies. For info’, see



Plans revealed in leaked Executive papers could give MSPs sweeping new powers in our planning system. FOE Scotland calls it a ‘naked power grab’ that will minimise public consultation or examination of unpopular and environmentally-damaging projects’.



Great paragraph from last page of John Clay’s biography of RD Laing:

No society, Laing felt, could sustain itself adequately without including the mad within its confines.  Pascal once wrote: ‘Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness’.  To protect its freedom a society has to make sacrifices, and the care and acceptance of the mad in the heart of a community would for Laing be an essential first step. He believed that others are elected to live out the chaos that we refuse to confront in ourselves.  By these means, we escape a certain anxiety – but only at an immense price.  Madness, for Laing, was always a continuum of human experience, our shadow side, never far away.


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


Best wishes,



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