Senscot Bulletin: 08-10-2004



(Going out weekly to over 2500; searchable archive of bulletins at web-site,


Dear members and friends,


I make impulsive decisions. I get an idea – a kind of fever comes – can’t help myself. Sometimes these impulses are brilliant – mostly they’re not. One of my worst blunders was to purchase unseen the canteen from the roof of the Marks and Spencer store in Dublin. It was 1982 – the residents of Wester Hailes were keen to build their own social club. We persuaded a bank to lend us £25K to buy this 5,000 sq ft transportable unit – in hundreds of bits – like an IKEA flatpack. But we couldn’t raise a sausage for the project – after four months the bank was screaming for its money – things were grim.

            In April that year the Falklands War broke out – our MP was Malcolm Rifkind, who was also defence secretary. Brainwave! We’ll ask Malcolm if the MOD will buy our building – to help the war effort. It was a long shot but he was marvellous – clearly enjoying the cheek of our proposal.

            Within days – some head bummer from the Defence Procurement Agency comes to see us – ask him about our chances: ‘Look, this is something the minister wants – done deal, old chap’. Cheque arrives – building off to the Falklands – clockwork.

            Wish I could say that this close escape taught me a lesson – nae chance. In fact, ‘the big house’ at the edge of our wee village has come on the market. I’ve got an idea – I’ve made enquiries – I feel the fever – ‘Somebody stop me.’           



There is general optimism about the arrival of Malcolm Chisholm as Minister for Communities. It’s not that Margaret Curran doesn’t know and care deeply about the voluntary and community sectors – but under her leadership everything moved so desperately slowly – allocated money remains unspent for over a year. This change of minister comes at an opportune time – as Futurebuilders prepares to launch and new key staff arrive. Thea Teale has now taken up post as head of the voluntary issues unit. Roddy McDonald is to be interim head of the new social economy unit in Communities Scotland. The unit will have 8/9 staff  (see today’s jobs pages). The expectation is that applications will be invited for Futurebuilders during November – first awards Dec/Jan. As things start to move – an air of optimism returns. The Futurebuilders document speaks of an Advisory Board to ‘oversee’ the work of the unit. They would do well to appoint this board ASAP to benefit from third sector input (view Social Economy Unit Posts: 



Part of the The Big Lottery Fund is a new £200million Young Peoples Fund. Over the next 3 years, the fund will help young people to contribute to their community and overcome disadvantage. The competition has now been launched to appoint distributors. The fund will be subdivided into various themes – each with a different distributor. Themes already decided in England include: Summer Camps, Positive Activities, Get Real, the Sports Partnership Programme. Scotland will get £20million over three years – but we’re lagging behind. They’re going to do England first before deciding on Scottish distributors. (



David Bellamy and George Monbiot – two of Britain’s leading environmentalists – have been arguing fiercely about climate change and wind farms. Bellamy, it seems, is still not convinced that man-made climate change is taking place. Monbiot is furious. ‘Do you have any idea how much damage your articles and interviews have caused? How your name is now being used as evidence that global warming isn’t happening? May I suggest that you talk to some mainstream climatologists (not just cranks) before writing any more on this? (  



In the world of social entrepreneurship, Jerr Boschee is much respected. Unlike those ‘one book wonder’ USA gurus – milking the circuit – Jerr knows a lot about social enterprise – and is a good teacher. He spent 2 days in Paisley last week and impressed participants with his ‘organised abandonment process’. He says you should score what you do – and either ‘keep or kill’. This also applies to organisations which litter the landscape without serving any useful purpose. (  



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: 43 vacancies, incl: 3 posts within the new Social Economy Unit., the School for Social Entrepreneurs, Turning Point, Shelter Scotland, Pheonix House and the Glasgow Homeless Network.


EVENTS: Strategic Campaigning, Edinburgh, 12-13 Oct; CAVOC Training (various); SEDI, Community Benefit through Public Procurement, 19 Oct; Developing Social Enterprise, 21 Oct; Golden Bear Trust annual fundraising Ceilidh, Edinburgh, 23 Oct; CHE, Facilitation Skills Course, Linlithgow, 29-31 Oct.


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


CAN YOU HELP: Scottish Centre for Regeneration launched a Community Engagement ‘how to’ website in April, and seeks feedback about it:  (


MARKET PLACE: One World Shop is offering high quality fair trade Christmas cards this year from Mauritius, Egypt and India. Catalogue looks very good. Contact



Last Friday, Senscot hosted Ernesto Sirolli at the Friend’s Meeting House, Edinburgh. Nearly 30 people attended, and were treated to an inspiring and entertaining account of Ernesto’s work over the last thirty years. The day before, Ernesto had also delivered his workshop on Enterprise Facilitation to over 50 people in Elgin at an event hosted by Kevin McDermott (REAP). For information on the Sirolli Institute and their Enterprise Facilitation programme, see (  



George Monbiot is one of thinkers/campaigners attending the European Social Forum next weekend – 15th –17th October – at Alexandra Palace in London. The theme of the weekend in ‘another world is possible’ and the speakers include Susan George, John Pilger, Azmi Bishai, Ken Livingstone etc. Wish I could be there. First 20,000 to book on-line will receive a free travelcard giving unlimited travel throughout London for 3 days. See to book



This week, the bulletin profiles a community radio station based in North East Glasgow. Bolt FM, established over 3 years ago and based at St Paul’s church in North Glasgow, serves the Royston Road communities. The aim of the station is to BOLT communities together and promote local services to local residents. Working closely with Fablevision, North Glasgow College, Northern Rock and Toonspeak, Bolt FM provides training opportunities for up to 30 young people. They will be broadcasting from 11th October until 25th October on 106.7FM, providing a variety of music and debates including young people talking about the local policing strategy. As well as funding support from Awards for All and the Royston Road Project, Bolt FM also generates income of its own through advertising revenue. For further info’, see (project profiles).   



I have discovered the work of the late Leo Rosten, a Polish-born American comic writer. Here are some of his thoughts:

            ‘First rate people hire first rate people, second rate people hire third rate people.’ and

‘I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.’

But this is the quote which caught my attention:

‘You can understand and relate to most people better if you look at them, no matter how old or impressive they may be, as if they are children. For most of us never grow up or mature all that much. We simply get taller. Oh, to be sure, we laugh less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairytales.’


Some Leo Rosten quotes:


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

Best wishes,



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