Senscot Bulletin: 07.08.15

Dear members and friends,


The images of desperate migrants scrabbling around Calais diminish everyone – remind me that I am myself descended from economic migrants. After the Great War – all four grandparents fled from the same mountainous region on the fringe of the Italian Abruzzo; from an existence without hope, to a better life in Scotland. During the Indyref TV debate – Nicola Sturgeon characterised the immigration issue as an economic one; but I agreed with Natalie Bennett who prioritised human rights; we need to be aiming at the free movement of persons around our wee planet. I hope the UK plays a full part in Europe’s response to this crisis.


            Moving the other way – many friends and acquaintances now live in the south of Spain; some have money but most of them work; this year, our postman (of 10 years) headed off. In his late 50s – kids up and away – Mike accepted a retirement package from the Post Office – he and his wife have gone to live in North Cyprus; he was determined to get to the sun – and why not. It seems to me inevitable – that as the world’s resources become better distributed – we’ll all be free to live where we wish.


If I was 57. I’d be thinking like Mike – heading for Estepona – but, at 75, I much prefer to stay at home – keep everything simple. I read, scribble a bit, cook, minimal housework – and potter in the garden. This week I made a wee concrete ramp for my wheelbarrow; four parts gravel; two parts sharp sand; one part cement. It ended up a bit squint – but totally absorbing.
Last month Private Eye revealed that 75, 000 acres of land in Scotland (larger than Ayrshire) is held in tax havens – and commended Nicola Sturgeon’s courage in tackling the problem. But according to a new blog by Andy Wightman – congratulations were premature; the draft of the bill which has now come forward for the scrutiny of Parliament has abandoned this key proposal – to bar companies in offshore tax havens from holding title to land and property in Scotland. In a ten page briefing, Wightman says that the explanation offered for this change of mind is ‘thoroughly unconvincing’ and he says it is vital that Parliament probes this matter fully. I find this most disappointing; our land reform proposals now lag behind England’s – more importantly, behind the aspirations of ordinary Scots.
Cilla Black’s death in Estepona, Spain this week touches me with a sense of loss. In 1964, when she was belting out two of her biggest hits – ‘Anyone who had a heart’ and ‘You’re my world’ – she was 21 and I was 24. Her second career – Blind Date etc. made little impression on me; but her spirit evokes much of what was best in the youth revolution of the 1960s – liberating the way we all live and work and think. Thank you Cilla for so much good energy. This is the BBC obituary.
On the eve of Scotland’s Indyref vote – the Guardian leader called on Scot’s readers to vote no. I was shocked – my naïve faith in the Guardian’s neutrality gone. Similarly, the Guardian’s treatment of Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy for the Labour leadership has been scathing – and such has been the level of complaint that their ‘readers editor’ Chris Elliothas been forced to analyse the gross imbalance. Cat Boyd in the National thinks that Corbyn is the best thing that’s happened to English democracy for years.
If, like myself, you are engaged by the notion of a postcapitalist economy – you must read this Bella Caledonia piece by Irvine Welsh – author of Trainspotting. His essay is a review and critique of Paul Mason’s new book PostCapitalism – and I’m impressed by his grasp of economics. Welsh is enthusiastic about the book because it dares to open up utopian thinking again. This is his summary which ends, ‘This is the most important book about our economy and society to be published in my lifetime.’
We are living in times when the whole institutional future of the UK is up for grabs; it’s difficult to imagine that the House of Lords can last much longer. The Tories won’t move – but the others should, like the SNP refuse to participate. Having said this – if the collapse of Scottish Labour continues into the 2016 Holyrood elections – we will be back to a one party state in Scotland; many of us remember the slackness and corruption which follows. An elected second chamber in Scotland might become a consideration – non party political – elected by citizens – to ask awkward questions.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Silver Stag of Scotland, The Church of Scotland, Remade in Edinburgh, Dundee East Community Sports Club, Firstport, Trellis, Bairdwatson Charitable Trust
EVENTS: Hands Up for Enterprise, 28 Aug; DTA Scotland Annual Conference & AGM, 31 Aug; Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 24 Sept;
TENDERS:  Adult Counselling Service – Aberdeen City Council, WLC Linlithgow Partnership Centre – West Lothian Council, Supply of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables – Fife Council, Provision of Advocacy Support Service – Aberdeen City Council. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: On Wednesday, the inaugural Employability SEN meeting took place in Glasgow. 35 organisations attended to discuss the interest in and potential remit of an Employability SEN – particularly in light of the current and impending opportunities for the provision of employability services in Scotland. Main outcomes of the meeting were: a) to proceed with setting up an Employability SEN for locally based SEs in Scotland; b) the importance of collaborating and establishing a collective voice; c) look to be pro-active in influencing policy both locally and nationally; and d) to ensure that future meetings circulate around the country to ensure as wide a participation as possible. Note of meeting will be circulated shortly. For more info, contact or
Next Wednesday (12th August), the third EU Masterclass Seminar will be taking place in Inverness. Earlier events – in Glasgow (65 attendees) and Aberdeen (35 attendees) – have been well received. Together with Social Firms Scotland, DTA Scotland and the Scottish Community Alliance, we wish to share some core information before much of the EU programmes are “open for business”. This includes details about various ‘strategic packages’ which are important as: a) this is how ESF and ERDF Programmes will be delivered; and b) potential applications will need to fit into these packages to secure funding. To book your place, click on Inverness (12th Aug) or Edinburgh (21st Aug). For further info, see most recent update.
One of the big 5 social/community enterprise events in Scotland takes place on 2nd Sept in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow. CEiS’ annual SE Policy and Practice event is now in its 9th year and attracts around 200 delegates each year. This year’s programme will see the public presentation of the ‘SE State of the Sector Census’. Other items on the agenda will include the SE Vison 2025; Community Empowerment and SE; Rising Stars; and more. To register, see here . CEiS has kindly offered a special rate (£50+vat) to Senscot or SEN members. For details, contact
The bulletin has now carried profiles on 700 organisations since our first one in December 2001 – Birse Community Trust. Some are no longer operating, but the vast majority are still on the go. If you would like your ‘profile’ refreshed, please email your updated version to
This week’s bulletin profiles a new enterprise in Edinburgh that got its inspiration from a similar venture in Toronto. The Edinburgh Tool Library (ETL) – the UK’s first tool library – opened for business in March 2015 from an old police box in Leith Walk. To date, they have about a dozen volunteers, over 500 tools, 80 members, and have lent out over 150 tools – and are now ready to move onto phase two of the project – helping provide opportunities for young unemployed people who are interested in working in the trades industry. They plan to do this in partnership with Generations Working Together. See more.
Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic – who 800 years later has an extraordinary worldwide following.

The Guest House by Rumi


“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honourably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”


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