Senscot Bulletin: 09.10.15

Dear members and friends,

I enjoyed Laurie Lee’s ‘Cider with Rosie’ on TV last week, beautifully cast and acted; the book is a memoir of his childhood in a Cotswold Village after the First World War.  LL’s gorgeous poetic writing conjures a world of earthly warmth and beauty; but we also visit tragedies and the everyday brutalities of the times.  Whilst the overall message is one of hope – there is much sadness in LL’s rememberings – and not only for the lost pastoral village life.  I read in it a lament for the childhood lost to each of us –a yearning for that precious state of innocence, before we learned ‘how to behave’.


            Following ‘Rosie’, LL wrote ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ – an account of the year 1935/36 – wandering through Spain, busking for food, living rough, seeing life from street level.  Again, in truly beautiful language he shares his encounters along the way – his gratitude to the common people, kind to him from their poverty – the pride and vitality of the humblest Spanish life.


He also tells of the squalor, violence and sheer destitution around him: some of the worst poverty, along the south coast of Andalucia, where I visit.  As these ‘thin ribbed fishing villages’ are now become the bloated fleshpots of the Costa del Sol – I sometimes wonder what LL’s reaction would be to all this ‘economic progress’.  I don’t imagine much sentimentality – but I hear a kind of elegy, for some of the gentler customs of pre-industrial Spain – in a language sensuous, lyrical, precise.


The Scottish Govt. announced this week that it has reached its target for community and locally owned renewable energy generation – five years early.  But Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens is not impressed – calling the target a drop in the ocean.  Harvie says that it represents only 3 percent of renewables ownership in Scotland – compared to Germany which has 65 percent in local or community hands.  I count myself amongst those who believe in the power of local economies; networks of community anchor organisations across the country – owned and operated by local people – creating and supporting thousands of community enterprises.  Locally owned renewable energy generation, represents a major opportunity to underpin this movement.  The Greens are the only political party which understands this vision.


Sad death this week of the writer Henning Mankell from the lung cancer diagnosed at New Year 2014; he kept writing, right to the end – including about his cancer.  Mankell was an outspoken member of the Swedish left – politically active in many areas – including Mozambique; but it was through his invented character, police inspector Kurt Wallander, that I feel I knew him best. Kurt’s flawed and conflicted life makes him relatable and likeable – an exploration of the contradictions inside us all. Mankell brought many of us much pleasure, which will continue.  With the likes of George Smiley and Philip Marlowe – Kurt will always sit in my hero’s gallery. 


The National Housing Federation (NHF) is England’s voice of housing associations; you may not be aware of it but they’re in the middle of a major scrap and it goes right to the heart of what federation means.  The largest political federation in the world is the USA – where the state of California, with 39 million people has the same 2 senators as Wyoming which has 600,000 people.  This ‘one member, one vote’ is fundamental.  But in its recent ballot on ‘right to buy’ – the NHF weighted votes of members in proportion to how many houses they manage – violating the principles of federalism.  Good blog from Inside Housing.


Giles Fraser (Loose Canon Column) writes an interesting piece about religious and political charisma – and Jeremy Corbyn’s lack of it. He points out that many of us welcome Corbyn’s arrival onto ‘the big stage’– not just in spite of a rhetorically clumsy conference speech – but because of it: his ‘ordinariness’ is kind of anti-politics politics. The ‘I have a dream’ eloquence of Luther King is seductive – but today we become increasingly skunnered with the marketing slickness of public life; in Corbyn we see our own imagined tilt at the might of the establishment. The story of David and Goliath contains great energy.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: GalGael Trust, Out of the Blue Arts & Education Trust, Victim Support Scotland, Mossblown Regeneration Group, Crossreach, Local Energy Action Plan, New Caledonian Woodlands, Reeltime Music
EVENTS: Citizens Advice Direct 2015 AGM, 16 Oct; Hells Hunner Acres, 17 Oct; Trailblazers: In Conversation with Dervla Murphy: Between River and Sea, 20 Oct: EU Funds Masterclass: Borders, 30 Oct;
TENDERS: Supporting Individuals and Families Affected by Substance Misuse in South Lanarkshire, Glasgow City Stress Services (NHSGGC) – NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Rowan Grove Landscape Improvements – Almond Housing Association and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  An issue that may have increasing relevance for SENs and their members over the years ahead will be Participatory Budgeting (PB) – a way for local people to have a direct say in how, and where, public funds can be used to address local requirements. Whilst not actually included in the Community Empowerment Act, Scottish Govt has not ignored this matter and has invested in a national training programme for local authorities that, last week, saw the launch of a new web portal – . The new portal will act as a hub for sharing and learning about work being done by PB initiatives across Scotland – overseen by a small working group that includes our colleagues at the Scottish Community Alliance. This is something worth keeping tabs on.


If you are considering setting up a social enterprise – and are wondering what legal structure to adopt – this article takes you through the different options – their various advantages. It was put together by an English outfit (Inspire2Enterprise) but Helen from Senscot Legal has had a look and comments: “It’s good to see a clear and concise guide on the pros and cons of various legal structures available to SEs. Of course, obtaining more in depth information and advice is recommended before choosing the best legal structure and in Scotland we also have the increasingly popular SCIO model for charities”. If you’d like support in setting up your own SE, contact


The inaugural John Pearce Lecture took place on Monday evening at Glasgow Caley – with a healthy gathering of old and new faces from around the social/community enterprise scene. Hopefully, this can evolve into an annual event on the calendar. The event saw the launch of the Social Enterprise Collection – to be housed within the GCU Archive. Funding and donations were secured to get the Collection to this stage – but, for its continued development, further donations are welcomed. To find out more about the Archive or to make a donation, contact Carole McCallum (GCU’s Archivist) at .The evening also marked the closure of the CBS Network – set up by John Pearce and colleagues in 1981.


SCRT’s first Conference – 19th Nov at the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh – looks at ‘Social Finance: Social Investment: Social Banking – what makes them Social?’. This event is the first of its kind in Scotland and a range of discounted rates are available to SCRT members and others. For details on speakers and to book your place, see here.


Community Shares Scotland has been operational for around 18 months now and its impact is becoming more and more evident. After the success of the Portpatrick Harbour Community Shares offer (£75k raised in under 3 weeks), we now hear that Comrie Development Trust’s Cultybraggan Camp 21 Bunkhouse Community Shares are now available – they hope to raise £45k. The community shares modelis increasingly being seen as an appropriate investment model for local communities in Scotland.


This week’s bulletin profiles a CIC – based in Glasgow – that provides practical support and assistance to our immigrant community from personal coaching, to advice on financial & legal matters, writing CV’s and applying for jobs. Radiant and Brighter, established as a CIC in 2014, offers three core services: Training and Mentorship – a process that empowers groups to overcome, social, cultural and structural obstacles using a collaborative approach to build life time careers.; Business to Business Training – including team building and project development training for groups and organisations; and Community Participation – providing a safe and friendly environment for the most disadvantage in our communities to address issues affecting them. Originally set up in Uganda, Radiant and Brighter relocated to the UK in 2008.


People have questioned the truth – the historical veracity of some of Laurie Lee’s stories.  Whilst I believe that the professional integrity of a journalist depends on the pursuit of accuracy – not so for a storyteller – different calling.  This is how Hemingway put it in a 1958 interview:


            “From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality.  That is why you write and for other reasons that you know of.  But what about all the reasons that no one knows?”


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