Senscot Bulletin 06.08.2004



Dear members and friends,


A biography has just emerged of the Orcadian poet George Mackay Brown who died in 1996.  Its title, ‘The Interrogation of Silence’ comes from one of his best poems – ‘The Poet’: ‘Under the last dead lamp – when all the dancers and masks had gone inside – his cold stare returned to it’s true task – the interrogation of silence.’  In my remote cottage, silence is a new and uneasy part of life – sometimes in the evenings I get spooked by the quiet.

            Always fancied myself as a bit of an existential hero – outside the tribe – self sufficient loner.  We are rarely what we think.  During the past four weeks – interrogating silence – I’ve been way down inside myself looking around – so far I haven’t met anyone or seen anything of interest.  On sad days – when the harr comes – it can feel like exile.  But on good days – in the sun – this feels a good direction to go – slower – calmer – more considered.  Becoming more ‘present’ in my life.

            I’ve hung a peanut feeder close to the window where I work – a new family of great tits dart to and fro.  The wee ones haven’t got proper feathers yet – too new to be afraid, they stare back at me – clumsy, glaikit – miraculous.  George Mackay Brown is buried in his beloved Hamnavoe – on his gravestone is inscribed, ‘Here is a work for poets – carve the runes, then be content with silence.’




At a young persons awards ceremony in the City Chambers recently – find myself with my back to a group of Councillors – listening to their chat.  One of them was recounting how he had inherited a ward with very active community organisations – ‘But I got rid of that nonsense.’  He said to appreciative laughter.  So angry I left. 

            As we talk of social economy actions and Futurebuilders, we would do well to remember that there are parts of our wee country where community enterprise is being, ‘Got rid of.’



In the UK, over recent years, the liberation of tens of thousands of people with learning difficulties from long stay hospitals is a proud achievement.  But did you know that there is now a rapid expansion of units run by the private sector for learning disabled people.  What has caught their attention is the prospect of annual charges which are likely to range from £180,000 – £230,000 for each patient.  Yes – I too find this an astonishing figure – which would even attract the drug barons.  Surely the social enterprise sector is better suited than the market place to look after our very vulnerable citizens.  (



This week, Senscot welcomes our new member of staff, Pat Bowie.  Pat will be managing the Senscot Exchange.  The basic idea of the Exchange will be to broker practical help and advice to social entrepreneurs and their enterprises where and when it is required.  The service will offer assistance at three levels: Website based information and contacts; Personal response service by phone or e-mail; Active Accounts.  Some of the ground work has already begun on the website information and although Pat is `just in the door`, she would welcome early inquiries from network members.  For further info`, contact



From 2001-2004 Senscot – along with Tom Sneddon of ASTIS – acted as midwives to bring the Development Trusts Association to Scotland.  It will be a landmark on the 30th August when DTAS holds it’s first Annual Conference and AGM in Inverness.  It’s a year since DTAS got properly underway and with a membership which grows with every passing week and which now stretches from North Ronaldsay in Orkney down to the Isle of Whithorn in Dumfries and Galloway, it has been an impressive start. The conference programme includes key figures from the development trust movement both north and south of the border, and also features a number of short presentations on land reform, renewable energy, building preservation and asset based development.  Laurence and Aidan are attending.  There are still some places left for day delegates (all overnight packages are gone). Registration form and further information is available from



YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice you send. But please send in any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:


JOBS: 56 vacancies, incl: West Fife Enterprise, HELPP, SBHA, MMG Microcredit Group, SOSCN, Castlemilk Community Forum, CVS Argyll, Wester Hailes Health Agency, Scottish Refugee Council.


EVENTS: ‘Exploring the Riches of Social Capitalism’ Edinburgh, 22 Aug; EDAS, Glasgow, 26 Aug; DTA Scotland 1st Annual Conference, Inverness, 30 Aug; StartOver Re-Orientation Workshop, Forres, 11 Sept; Strategic Campaigning course, Edinburgh, 12-13 Oct; Wilderness Ecotherapy Course, Knoydart, 10-16 Oct; The John Muir Trust Conference, Pitlochry, 21-23 Oct.


CAN YOU HELP? Re-Union – launch of new website, also looking for volunteers


For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’ at:   



Two new guides to funding are now available which you may want to check out.  ‘Unlocking the Potential – A Guide to Finance for Social Enterprises’ is English but, still provides a valuable overview of the range of non-grant finance on offer to social enterprises.  It is also illustrated with examples of enterprises that have successfully raised finance.  (

            Nearer home, SCVO, have updated their Directory of Grants and Funds for Scotland.  The guide has over 70 new sources of funding, detailing grant making policies and full contact details.




Have you visited Senscot’s new website?  It’s the same web address as before but you’ll need to refresh your link.  We’re trying to create a resource for the Scottish social enterprise sector – this will take time – and we will continue to add features in response to customer patterns of use.  Our new counter tells us how many folk visit each page.  Last week for instance our Yellow Pages had 815 visits.  Click here to visit Yellow Pages and learn about this free service. 




Today, we profile a community managed facility in the Royston area of Glasgow.  The Rosemount Lifelong Learning and Flexicentre were set up in 1991 as a childcare and women’s training centre.  In 1998, it transferred into community management and is now managed by a Board that includes nine local women.  As well as providing personal development, practical, and community interest courses and services (with free childcare available), they also run a Fruit Co-op, a recycling project and provide a collection point for the local Credit Union.  For further info`, see (project profiles)



Good interest in the Sirolli workshop on Friday 1st October at the Quaker Meeting Hall in Edinburgh, 1.00-4.30pm.  It’s costing us for his expenses, the hall, sandwiches etc around £700 so there is a charge of £20 per head.  But don’t let being skint keep you away – e-mail emma@senscot for a sponsored place.  To confirm your booking check this link.  (



Read a thoughtful interview with Robbie Coltrane in last Sunday’s Herald – talking to Peter Ross.  Big Robbie is a sensitive and funny man – but also complex – somehow angry.  Liz Lockhead the poet says that what makes him so great a comedian is ‘That you feel the edges of darkness.’  The interview made me feel a lot of sympathy with Robbie – a pilgrim soul.

            ‘You are brought up to believe that if you are smart enough and you read enough you will find the meaning in things.  But actually in many ways that’s a curse.  All things that happen to you in life that make you happy or excited and fulfilled – have nothing to do with finding the meaning in things at all.  Having children, for example, falling in love.  If you are asking me if I’ve found the meaning in life, the answer is no, but part of getting on with your life is realising that perhaps there isn’t any meaning.’  (


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

Best wishes,



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