Senscot Bulletin: 10.05.13

Dear members and friends,

I’m 73 today (10th May) – during the past year, ‘senior moments’ seem to be getting more frequent. Lunchtime Wednesday – sitting alone in Marks and Spencer Cafe, awaiting my toastie – I realise that I can’t recall what I did this morning. No big deal – wait patiently – the bits quickly fall into place; including the memory that I had toast and coffee about an hour ago – which is why I’m not very hungry. Such incidents suggest that I need to take charge of my old age – an element of support; someone to remind me patiently that I’ve already had supper.
 I’ve been swotting up on what they call ‘seniors co-housing’. Imagine 20/30 dwellings clustered around a big old house with communal facilities – like public rooms, laundry, guest rooms etc. Other elements of shared living can be heat source, transport, gardens/allotments etc. Co-housing is not a commune – everyone lives their own life – but there is a clear commitment to mutual support, self-governance, active participation. It’s this ‘intentional community’ aspect that bothers me; my natural inclination is to solitude.
 The chap in Marks and Spencer Cafe brings me the wrong toastie; it registers vaguely that I never order chicken – but it looks ok. He comes to reclaim it too late – I’ve had a bite. He seems a nice young man – from Eastern Europe – feel I’ve let him down. He asks politely what I ordered – but I can’t remember.

We still have copies of ‘Kindness’ – Laurence’s latest selection of bulletin intros (2007-12). If you’d like a copy, see

Not so long ago, politics seemed all the same; now one discerns the opening of a gap between those who want to stay with free market capitalism – and those, like myself, who want to move towards a more egalitarian – Nordic style – social democracy.  None of the political parties (except Greens) has the courage to offer policies for radical change – so we fall back on civil society for leadership.  Two events to note: the Jimmy Reid Foundation (an emerging influence) has published a blueprint for an independent Scotland – which turns its back on 30 years of Thatcherism – six bold steps to a fairer society.  See,  And also, Compass, the London-based platform – ‘Direction for the Democratic left’ – will host an event in Glasgow on Sat 8th June – 10am – 3.30pm.  I’ll be there to hear speakers like Patrick Harvie, Gerry Hassan, Robin McAlpine etc.  Is this the one which will ‘catch alight’ – unite disparate events into a popular movement.  See,

The campaign to marketise the third sector in the UK continues to be led by whiz kids from the City; this link is typical of the drivel which circulates in the financial press. It is frustrating that their propaganda machine is so much more effective than ours. See,

Ed Mayo of Co-operatives UK, knows what’s going on; had a good piece in the Guardian complaining that the Govt’s definition of ‘public service mutual’ is neither a mutual nor a co-operative – that it doesn’t meet basic criteria: "We don’t want to become the sheep’s clothing for privatisation". See,

From Andy Wightman’s Land Matters site this week: "For the first time in the history of Land Use Planning in Scotland, there is a proposal that ‘hutting’ be encouraged, facilitated and expanded." – this is good news – but he warns that Building and Planning Regs still don’t have a ‘Class’ for huts. See,

In response to another Land Matters item – this excellent ‘guest’ blog from Kirsty Flannigan of Linwood Community Development Trust. An inspiring account of the persistence of local people against a regeneration strategy led by ‘suits’ and vested interests. See,

On a similar theme, reader Jim Bennett asks why the guidelines for the new Enterprise Growth Fund should place ‘a strong emphasis on having received business support’ (last week’s bulletin). He thinks that this ’emphasis’ creates the impression that in order to access government funds you have to be a client of an established ‘support’ organisation – and, perhaps unwittingly, assumes that local organisations cannot themselves produce a competent business plan. Jim has a point. See, 

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Aberdeen Foyer, Routes to Work South, Remade in Edinburgh, YWCA Glasgow, Lochboisdale Development Limited, Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association Limited, Revive MS Support
EVENTS: Sleepless ’til Seattle – illustrated adventure talk, 10 May; VSA Spring Fayre, 11 May; Wiff Waff Wednesday, 15 May; Free Workshop & Study Visit Series, 16 May; Don’t Be Shy, Have A Try, 21 May;
TENDERS: Provision of Professional Services for Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Projects 2013-14 – Argyll & Bute, Care at Home and Housing Support – Renfrewshire and IT Hardware Disposal for Registers of Scotland. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Dundee SEN (DSEN) has completed annual Vital Stats for members – with a full mapping exercise for Dundee City Council area planned for later this year. Encouragingly, DSEN continues to grow from strength to strength. Key stats include: Membership increasing from 16 to 26 SEs; property and assets value up from £2m to £3.7; Staffing at 444; 56 trainees directly employed in SEs and 5,179 beneficiaries trained; total income up from £11m to £14.4m; and total from trading income up from £7.6m to £12.1m. Overall, Dundee SEN members received 84% of their income from trading activities – compared to 69% in the previous year.  See,  For more Networks News, see,

What possessed OSCR to publish seven hectoring pages about what we’re allowed to say about the referendum; it could try to curtail the encroachment of market economics into the charitable sector – rather than restricting public debate about democracy. See,

This piece by Maurice Glasman (very brainy) about why the German social democracy model works; one aspect is the strengthening of decentralised institutions – cities, yoonies, colleges, regional banks, community-owned football clubs etc.  This is a powerful message. See,

Do you know about the ‘Art of Hosting’? If not, here’s a rare opportunity to attend a three-day training programme on 27-29th June 2013 (venue to be confirmed). The Art of Hosting – the art of participatory leadership through hosting and harvesting conversations that matter – is well-established in a number of countries around the world and has been used in a variety of contexts, such as health care, community consultations, EU policy development. The training team includes internationally recognised figures in this filed from Denmark and Nova Scotia. For more, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise (and new member of Edinburgh SEN), based in Morningside in Edinburgh. Space Artworks has a gallery, craft shop and art workshop – with the aim of promoting artwork from adults with long-term health issues including physical and learning disabilities and mental health challenges. In addition, Space Artworks provides a mentoring service to artists with disabilities or mental health challenges to promote their work within the gallery and beyond. For more, see

To the question – ‘What Makes us Human?’ – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks answers that we are made human by relationships – which are best learnt in the context of a family.  But he worries for the future:
 "We invest immense time and energy in electronic communication: smartphones, texts and social networking software.  But are virtual relationships the same as face-to-face ones?  A 2012 survey carried out by Macmillan Cancer Support revealed that the average 18-to-35-year-old has 237 Facebook friends.  Yet when asked on how many of these they could rely in a crisis, the average answer was two.  A quarter said one.  An eighth said none."  See,

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