Senscot Bulletin: 09-12-2005


Dear members and friends,

The good rare feelings visit at the oddest times.  In the supermarket checkout this week I get behind an older guy who knows the cashier woman – yakking away. When my time comes the guy is still there. “You don’t recognise me.”  I look up “No, sorry” “Tommy the joiner.” Gosh, Tommy” I smile – we shake hands.  In the 1960s he did lots of work for me – a truly gifted tradesman who could make anything with his hands.  We got friendly and after work we’d go to Deacon Brodies for the Guinness.  I remember asking him if he ever wanted to be anything else.  He looked surprised.  Without conceit he said “I’m the best joiner I know – why would I change.”
 So we sit in Tesco’s snack bar for a while, two old guys blethering down memory lane.  “You were the one who first encouraged me to go on my own” Tommy says.  “I was moaning about my boss and you said ‘take command of your own life’ so I went into business and it came good for me.”  “I remember” I smiled, “You got too expensive for me.” Pushing my trolley back to the car  – reflecting that the choices we make in life define who we are – the morning sun full in my face – and suddenly inside me comes a gentle joy – no reason, its simply there – it doesn’t last long, but this could be where the Buddha learned to go.

According to Alf Young in Sunday’s Herald, a serious battle is engaged on the structural future of Scottish Enterprise. Sir John Ward and Jack Perry (Chair and CEO) want to get rid of the existing LEC Network and concentrate on Scotland’s metropolitan regions. The LEC Boards would fight this. Tom McCabe, Holyrood’s Finance and Public Services reform minister, is planning a discussion paper early next year on a fundamental revamp of the public realm. Councils – Health Boards – Police Forces – Fire Service etc. The emerging landscape of support for social enterprise is rightly criticised for being complex and cluttered – hopefully by next June a ‘differentiated’ strategy will make this clear and effective. Harder to fix will be the spaghetti of competing bodies and initiatives delivering economic development. Alf Young’s piece gives good insight.

In September 2004, after political vacillation, the Scottish Executive published ‘Futurebuilders Scotland’ – its strategy to invest in the social economy. The document announced the decision to establish a Social Economy Unit within Communities Scotland …. Which “will be overseen by an Advisory Board on which the Third Sector will have strong representation”. I don’t know if any MSP’s read this bulletin but it would be helpful if someone would ask the Minister for Communities what has happened to this commitment.

Gordon Brown announced on Tuesday that money held in bank accounts which had been inactive for 15 years is to be distributed to communities – with an emphasis on our much needed and under funded youth services. It’s still too early to make accurate predictions about how much money is involved or where it will go – but some of the leading lights – Matthew Pike, Steve Wyler etc are renowned champions of social enterprise and community assets – so there are grounds for optimism. Of course, Scotland’s allocation could disappear into the opaque coffers of our Executive – as was the case with the Phoenix Fund for example.

The debate which continues quietly on our website’s Feedback File is on the subject of recruiting and training Board Members – check it out.

NOTICES/EXCHANGE: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice sent but please any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 73 vacancies, incl. posts with: Turning Point Scotland, Parent Network Scotland, Grand Central Savings, Healthy Valley, Glasgow simon Community, North Lanarkshire Council, Enable.

EVENTS:  ‘Building for the Future: Sharing good practice in community regeneration’, Edinburgh, Jan 19 2006:

Scotland’s first social enterprise trade fair, S2S, takes place in Perth on 25 April 2006:

All credit to Annabelle Goldie, the new leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, for exposing the Scottish Executive’s policy on drug addiction as stagnant. There is no official record of the number of addicts being prescribed methadone (estimate 19,000). There seems to be no serious attempt to help addicts get ‘clean’. Will we now see a swing in policy towards helping folk take their lives back from addiction – which my friend Davie Bryce at Calton Athletic has been championing all along. His book ‘Alive and Kicking’ is a rewarding read.

Another document worth reading is Andy Wightman’s ‘Common Good Land in Scotland’, another impressively thorough piece of research by this intrepid campaigner. The Caledonia Centre for Social Development needs to cover production costs at £10 per copy – then it can be circulated free. Senscot is sending £100 – Scotland needs more of this kind of rigorous and challenging work:

This week’s bulletin profiles an emerging development trust in Glasgow. The Wellhouse Community Trust, set up in 2003, represents an area in Greater Easterhouse of approximately 1000 households. The Trust was set up to address a number of issues facing a community that has regularly been identified as one of the most disadvantaged in Scotland. To date, the Trust has been operating two facilities, the hub which provides advice and support to the local community, and Innerzone which is a youth facility. Plans are currently being developed to open a sports facility ‘Hub Sports’. This is envisaged as a major income generator for the Trust. For info’, see   

This Sunday – 11th December – Chile holds its presidential elections and the candidate who sits comfortably 25 points ahead of her nearest rival is a 54 year old, single mother of 3, Michelle Bachelet. Under military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, in 1975, Bachelet and her mother were arrested and tortured. They were exiled to Australia but Michelle’s then boyfriend, Jamie Lopez, was tortured and killed. Bachelet, a lifelong member of the Chilean Socialist Party, would become the first woman elected president of a major South American country. This is an inspirational story.

The last piece reminds me of this optimistic poem, ‘Sometimes’ by Sheenagh Pugh, which I’ve used before – but it’ll cheer you up.
“Sometimes things don’t go, after all, from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail, sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well. A people sometimes will step back from war; elect an honest man; decide they care enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor. Some men become what they were born for. Sometimes our best efforts do not go amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to. The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.”

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

Best wishes,

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