Senscot Bulletin: 10.10.08

Dear members and friends,

 On Sundays we like to go for a hurl in the car – to discover good fish restaurants with sitting rooms – in Biggar, Anstruther, Lanark etc.  This week was one of our favourites – the Ben Ledi in Callander’s bustling Main Street.  Frying fish is something I know about – my first apprenticeship when I left school.  Three things are critical:- The quality of the batter (light and crispy): they must be cooked to order (not left lying): most importantly, fish must be fresh (which depends on supply).  As the wee fish markets around our coast close down – getting fresh fish becomes more difficult.  The Ben Ledi has a direct relationship with the skipper of a boat which fishes out of Scrabster – this arrangement is as good as it gets – we’ve never been served a stale fish.  It’s a wee gem of a place.
 On the way back from Callender we often visit a big antiques warehouse at Doune – a relaxed hour browsing old books and paintings – my friend likes old jewellery.  As sometimes happens to me in such places, I suddenly feel acutely ill – like I’m going to faint.  It’s as if being surrounded by thousands of interesting items becomes sensory overload – blows a fuse in my brain.  Totter outside to café area – fresh air – good October sunlight – glorious beech tree – composure returns.  An old greyhound licks my hand solicitously – owner calls him Rusty – a veteran from the racetracks.  Me and Rusty – two auld yins whose racing days are over.  This feels ok.

I remember my feeling of awe – when suddenly in 1989 communism ended as a major world force – with hardly a whimper. I have that same apocalyptic sense that the age of free market economics is entering its endgame. Citizen anger at the reckless greed of our `spivs and speculators` will be a feature of our political environment for many years to come. If the sector we all work in can muster the leadership – it’s easy to anticipate the greatest ever expansion of mutual and not for profit financial institutions. Now is the time for social entrepreneurs to step up to the plate. Cometh the hour……….? Rodney Schwartz discerns the outlines of the future.

I’ve just read Hazel Blears speech to the Development Trust Association annual conference last month – I genuinely believe that senior UK politicians are trying to work out how to empower citizens – to revitalise local democracy. It is very disappointing that our SNP administration shows no such firm purpose. Since delegating `community empowerment` to a sub-group of COSLA months ago – everything’s gone quiet. Neither Scottish Govt nor COSLA websites have any reference to this work. Why does the party of Scottish empowerment give such low priority to empowering communities? It makes me question the basis of their position.  Hazel Blears` speech

For years, Senscot, along with Colin Campbell at Assist, has promoted the concept of social capital – as a way of understanding how our work benefits the communities we serve. It is gratifying that the term is fast moving into mainstream usage – to the extent that Tory social policy has discovered social capital – big time. The party that once believed in the primacy of markets apparently now believes that our social fabric is too vulnerable and too valuable to be left to the whims of the market.

We’ve revamped the Senscot website with a new look. I hope you like it. The site will feature prominently our new sponsors and from time to time the bulletin will profile their services which are tailored specifically for our community. The site also offers direct links to the social enterprise intermediaries which Senscot works closest with
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: incl. posts with: Camphill Blairdrummond, CHAP, South Ayrshire Council, Garrison House (Cumbrae) Ltd, Renfrewshire CVS, Motor-Vation Community Cars, SCVO, Central Scotland Forest Trust
EVENTS: Climate Change: Effective Communication, 23 Oct, Edinburgh; Facilitation Training Day, 23 Oct, Edinburgh; Health & Wellbeing Fair, 1 Nov, Aberdeen; Compassionate Living Fayre, 8 Nov, Edinburgh

NETWORKS 1st News:  This year Dragon’s Den Prize will now be £5,000. A reminder as well that this year participants can get some ` Den Coaching` with Jay Lamb, winner of the first ever Dragon’s Den for Re-Union Canal Boats in 2005. Previous winners have done pretty well out of the Den. Re-Union now has its berth in the centre of Edinburgh, Green C Kayaks has just launched its new company and Recycle Fife, who won the Audience prize in 2006, is on the verge of moving into its new purpose built premises. So get those applications into us ASAP. Fiona Malcolm (Third Sector Division) will also be joining us to talk about the new Enterprise Fund being launched in January. For more NETWORKS News, see

Great news from Kinghorn this week. The Ecology Centre (a member of the Fife SEN) has won BBC 2 Primetime’s regional heat for central Scotland. The Centre wins circa £300k from the Lottery for their `Enviro-Mentors` project which will provide volunteering opportunities for the over 50s. They plan to get started in the New Year. For more info` on Enviro – Mentors, see

Many Social Enterprises fail to appreciate their intellectual assets from the outset and often do not take measures to harness these assets or protect them. The Social Enterprise Academy is running series of workshops giving an overview as well as how simple measures can be taken to protect intellectual property. For more, see

Tuesday saw the national launch of Community Energy Scotland (CES) at the Scottish Parliament. CES is a new Scotland-wide network that aspires to support, assist and fund community organisations to enable the installation of renewable energy technologies and efficiency measures. Formerly operating as HICEC, the new company is now open to community members and with its network of local development officers across the country can provide hands-on assistance. A measure of what can be achieved – by 2025, if 10% of Scotland’s electricity can be generated by community renewables, the direct benefit to communities will be £400m per annum. Here`s CES Chair, Alan Hobbett`s speech at the launch.

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise set up to help young people in Scotland achieve well beyond their expectations. Youth Coach Scotland brings together experts who have garnered specialist skills. They focus on the individual as having his or her own unique potential – helping them to make progressive choices throughout the process. They provide tailored coaching programmes, development support to organisations working with young people as well as training for youth coaches. For more, see

I’m reading the short stories of Dashiel Hammett which in my opinion are master works.  This edition has a 17 page, beautifully written, memory of Dash from Lillian Hellman who lived with him on and off for 31 years.  He was an alcoholic and a communist who ‘did time’ rather than shop any pals. Helman writes:
 ‘‘I know as little about the nature of romantic love as I knew when I was eighteen, but I do know about the deep pleasure of continuing interest, the excitement of wanting to know what somebody else thinks, will do, will not do, the short cord that the years make into a rope.  And so Dash lived with me for the last 4 years of his life.  Not all of that time was easy, and some of it was very bad, but it was an unspoken pleasure that having come together so many years before… we had endured.  One day I said ‘We’ve done fine, haven’t we?’ He said, ‘Fine’s too big a word for me.  Why don’t we just say we’ve done better than most people?’’’

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

Best wishes,

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