Senscot Bulletin: 09-02-2007

Dear members and friends,

On my way to Spain, I stop one night in London for a meeting – but the B&B from the Internet (£65) is dire – as bad as it gets. Tatty, dirty, the sour smell of cooking in the corridor really gets to me – a place of poverty and defeat. Leave at daylight without breakfast – relieved to escape unscathed – but I’ve come down with some bug – I’m blaming that midden.
 Been poorly now for five days- worst at night – sweating, sore throat, coughing and coughing. Weather also gloomy and overcast – so when sun emerges this morning – so do I. Go for a ‘salon’ haircut – buy designer top – now posh lunch with friends at Ristorante Romero – old style professional staff – Spanish clientele, mainly business men, in shirts which have been ironed. Choose my fish from the display and sit and wait – soaking it up – the stories, the laughter, the energy. Good times – good times.
I reflect on a weekend retreat I made many years ago – a Jesuit place. – somewhere near Bothwell – gone now. The priest said that we should strive to be as comfortable with poverty as with wealth. He called it ‘holy indifference’. I remember as a young man being much impressed by this ideal – it’sstill something admirable to aspire to. But that godlost B&B near Earls Court was a reality check. Without dignity – to be avoided.

The English local government white paper published in October now has a strong implementation plan on the DCLG site.  This extract from its introduction shows that it aims at a fundamental re-balance of the central/local relationship  One aspect of this process is the independent review, chaired by Barry Quirk, of the existing arrangements for the community to manage and own local assets.  Quirk’s review will make recommendations to Ruth Kelly in March and in May DCLG will publish an action plan.  Come June our new parliament will have the option of adopting this work – or not.  The Scottish campaign, local people leading (LPL), tries to advance this community agenda in Scotland. Register here to be kept in the loop:  

The Scottish Executive’s Regeneration statement published last February promised an Action Plan – which hasn’t materialized? Victoria Quay is not very good at managing deadlines.  Some pundits say that it’s as well to wait till after the election – because regeneration policy could change in Scotland – a move back to citizen and community empowerment, aligned with English policy.  Let’s hope this is true.

One can’t help wondering if the Lottery and the Scottish Executive confer about the social enterprise landscape. I suppose it’s a no win situation. If they do confer they’re not independent – if they don’t they’re too remote. But it would be interesting to know how political it is – who pulls the strings – who holds the blueprint – if there is a blueprint.
Last week, Senscot received a ‘no’ for our latest application to the Lottery – a proposal to help bed in  social enterprise networks around Scotland –  work that also attracts the support of Communities Scotland. We were told that our application was ‘not good value for money’, but – the good news – we’ve been encouraged to re-apply. We got a ‘no’ in 2000 and another ‘no’ in 2002 – so we know the feeling. After the initial disappointment, we’ll discuss things internally and will probably try again. As Samuel Beckett said, “Try again, Fail again, but Fail better….”

Following the success of the pilot issue last year, Good Company magazine is launching formally with its first subscription issue in March.  It will be published quarterly (Mid March, Mid June, Mid September and Mid December) and costs £32 per year for social enterprises, charities, co-ops and individuals or £40 for public and private sector bodies. To subscribe and get a taste of what’s in the March issue, see where you can get a free copy of the pilot issue.

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: 47 vacancies, incl. posts with: Candies Cuisine, The Soap Co., Wasps Artists’ Studios, Clackmannanshire Council, EKOS, Routes to Work South, Toonspeak Young People’s Theatre.

EVENTS:12 events, incl. BTCV Scotland Training Courses in creating wildlife gardens, first aid, involving young people, inspiring communities, etc., Assist Social Capital networking evening, 22 Feb; Art Expo 2007, Glasgow, 27 Feb; Community Retail Training Day, Glasgow, March 6; CRNS, ‘More than Recycling’, Perth, 14 March.

Donations towards production costs of the bulletin continue to come in. If your contribution is £25 or more, you can go on the register of Senscot company members – as an individual only. Company member ‘subs’ are renewable annually. You can donate online at or send a cheque (and address so we can send you a receipt) payable to Senscot, 54 Manor Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7EH

The Melting Pot – an incubator for social change organisations is getting £20k from the Lottery to help it get itself set up. By autumn 2007, they hope to have 2500 sq ft available in central Edinburgh as an innovative work, meeting and social space. Their flexible membership system means you can access to their spaces, resources and services on an hourly, daily or monthly basis – paying for it as you use it. For info’, see

Stories emanating from down south suggest that the Treasury is proposing giving a maximum of £150m to the Social Investment Bank (SIB). This is well short of the £400m recommended by the Commission on Unclaimed Assets’ Consultation Report (July 2006). It appears that £200m is now being earmarked for distribution through the Big Lottery Fund. The idea of a new bank offering financial products such as bonds, loans and development grants to the third sector is seen as an independent vehicle for dispersing the money left in abandoned accounts. The CUA is due to publish its final recommendations at the end of this month. For info’, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Edinburgh providing services for homeless people in the community. Fresh Start has been on the go since 1999. It was set up by church members who wanted to respond to the growing crisis of homelessness in the city.  Fresh Start now offers a package of practical services designed to achieve their 3 primary aims – enable Edinburgh churches to work together – provide opportunities to do something practical to help homeless people – help homeless people to make a success of a new tenancy. For info’, see

I’m a great fan of Kurt Vonnegut – in his 85th year, one of the sanest men on the planet. This is from his recent memoir, ‘A man without a country’:
 “My late uncle Alex was my good uncle – well-read and wise. His principal complaint about other human beings was they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honey bees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt this agreeable blather to exclaim, “If this isn’t nice I don’t know what is.” So I do the same now – I urge you please to notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

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

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available at Word Power, 43 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. See: