Senscot Bulletin 10-10-2003



Dear members and friends,


I read somewhere that the majority of people on this planet
believe in some form of Karma – that our every action generates a force of
energy that returns to us in kind.  It’s
an attractive idea – that we reap what we sow – that the goodies and baddies
all get their just deserts.  But I don’t
believe it’s that simple.

I remember a life-changing evening
at Powderhall dog track many years ago. 
Hailed in the bar by a friend – a likeable rogue I’d helped break the
habit of jail, “Didn’t know you were a punter Eckie?”  “I’m not”, he said, “but I’ve got £1000 to have on for someone” –
“You’re kidding”.  “I can’t tell you the
dog”, he says “because I don’t know yet – but watch what I bet in the third
race”.  I stick to him like glue – he
bets No.4.  I extend my credit with
every bookie I know – watch the race in an adrenaline trance – the 4 dog wins
by a distance – the crowd boos.  Sit in
squalid toilet cubicle feet jammed against the door – pulling notes from every
pocket – my stash is over £1800.  It’s
one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life – omnipotent, triumphant,
blessed by the Gods.  Is this my Karmic
reward for helping Eckie? 

The problem was that as a result
of that euphoric night my gambling became addictive.  Bookie shops by day – casinos by night – for two years I got lost
in a twilight zone.  Lost my money, and
borrowing from friends – pawnbrokers – lost my dignity.  Karma my ass.



Bulletin readers will be aware that the Scottish Executive’s
Review of the Social Economy (ROSE) which was published in January is expected
to re-emerge in the next few weeks as an Implementation Plan with specific
costed actions. The group of us who attended the Perth seminar in May, have now
received a draft of the final document but it has not yet received Ministerial
endorsement, so is still subject to change and cannot be circulated. Senscot is
impressed not only with the content of this Plan but also with the process of
its preparation, which has involved around 70 people.  See list. (
From a first reading it’s clear that the Executive wants to encourage support
organisations to come together into new consortia to bid competitively to
deliver the various bits.  We can expect
that the biggest initiative, FutureBuilders Scotland will attract some
imaginative bids.  We’ve posted Neville
McKay’s accompanying letter which sets the tone and time scale for the plans’
publication.  You’ll see he’s offering a
bottle of wine to anyone who thinks of a good name for the Action Plan.  (



We mentioned last week the launch of the Scottish Social
Forum (inspired by the World Social Forum) and several of our network members
have already asked to be looped in. This initiative is the work of two network
members Chris Thomson and Martin Stepek who have written a short paper
outlining their thinking (  If you want to connect to this, e-mail
Supporters of the World Justice Movement may wish to read Susan George’s paper,
‘Clusters of Crisis’ (



Just read in the English ‘Regeneration’ magazine that a
Scottish project has won one of the five prestigious awards presented every
year by the British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA).  Ashamed to say that we knew nothing about
the project which has been running for eight years in Falkirk /
Clackmannanshire areas. ‘Linked Work and Training Trust’ has completed two
successful three year cycles offering a BA in Community Development to local
people. The degree is awarded by Glasgow University and all 22 graduates have
secured jobs. (


Also, Ernst and Young have just given their 2003 National
Awards for Entrepreneurs. Congratulations to Nick Baxter of Scottish project
Cornerstone Community Care, who won the ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’. Nick
founded Cornerstone in Aberdeen in 1980 (  Senscot prides itself on having an
exceptional reach into Scotland’s social enterprise sector.  The fact that we didn’t know about either of
these projects suggest that our mapping has a long way to go.



YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every
notice you send. But please send in any relevant items (before noon Thursday)
to and we’ll post them
on our site.  This week:


JOBS: 16 vacancies, including posts at the Community
Transport Association, Learning Link Scotland, Community And Voluntary
Organisations Council, Pineview Housing Co-Operative, BTCV.


EVENTS: Sustainable Design Conference, Edinburgh, 15-16 Oct;
Leadership Calling Workshop Oct 19-25; ‘Connector’ arts and community event,
Glasgow, Oct 25; Social Enterprise Procurement Conference, Oct 29; EDAS
conference Oct 31; ‘Zero Waste’ recycling conf, Edinburgh, Nov 5-6; ‘Social
Firms Successes’ event, Glasgow, Nov 7; Community Enterprise
Lochaber Conference, Strontian, Nov 15;


For details on these and more:



Last week Bill Munsie wrote on State Aid regulations and how
they apply to social enterprises. The instance he mentioned concerned refusal
of a grant by Transforming Waste Scotland (TWS). James Kerr responds this week
in defence of TWS.



The Senscot Directory of Services to Social Enterprises
which we are building on our website, will initially consist of three lists:
List 1 – Public Agencies; List 2 – Intermediary Organisations; List 3 –
Consultants.  This directory will
continue to develop in sophistication over many months but we expect to have
the basic framework in working order by the end of October.  For starters we have put up List 3 –
Consultants with an initial 70 names so you can browse it and if your
organisation offers services to social enterprises – add your name.  Your listing is free – just complete the
online application form  (



This week we profile a project in Midlothian that is moving
from being a furniture recycling project to becoming a viable community
business. MARC.ET (Midlothian Advice and Resource Centre: Environmental
Trading) has been set up through the Midlothian Furniture Recycling Project
(started 1999). Following funding through the Community Fund and the Building
Brighter Futures Fund, the project was determined to move towards self-sustainability.
This approach resulted in MARC:ET opening their own shop in May of this year.
Such has been the success of this venture that MARC:ET has now employed an
Enterprise Development Officer to identify new income generating initiatives
and ease the transition to being a sustainable community business. Further
info: (Project Profiles)



A few readers thought that my story last week about
youngsters on the bus was negative – so, just for the record – I think that the
current demonising of young people by Jack McConnell and his Executive is
deplorable.  In Scotland 3% of young
people are reported for crimes and offences each year – and they need to be
dealt with firmly because a handful of unchecked tearaways can torment and
undermine a neighbourhood.  But the
First Ministers campaign is labelling all young people which is neither fair
nor helpful.  Like his hyped recycling
targets – this will rebound.  Bad Karma.



My neighbour’s 14 year old son, Calum, has just come out his
back door and spewed into a Laurel bush. 
His parents are away and he and his pals are discovering the effects of
alcohol in exactly the same way I did. 
Is there another way?

The Dalai Lama said, “With
material and scientific development, one generation can build on the
achievements of the past.  But with
spiritual development – the achievement of wisdom – each generation must
accomplish the work anew”.  As parents
it is a great sadness that we can’t protect our children from repeating all our
mistakes – that they too must weep for love – gamble – worry about money – have
crushing hangovers.  I see Calum is now
writhing about on the ground, so I stroll over, “Are you all right son?”,
“Urghh”, “What have you taken?  Is it
drink or other stuff?” – “Don’t tell my ma”, he says.


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

Best wishes,



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