Senscot Bulletin: 11-02-2004




Dear members and friends,


Up and down to London last week – guy next to me on Easyjet keeps jerking uncontrollably – keeps dunting me – no point getting annoyed – poor chap can’t help it.  Distressing.  Morning meeting finishes at one – lunch alone in wee Italian place called Baracca where they do a Linguine alle Vongole like in Napoli.  Afternoon meet friends at Masterclass by ‘inspirational’ American business guru.  Apparently she gets £20k a day.  No names in case of litigation.

            Know right away it’s a mistake – she looks like Sue Ellen in Dallas.  The hair – the clothes – the voice.  ‘They call me a guru’ she says ‘but look at the word: G.U.R.U. – Gee-you-are-you. Everyone a unique individual.’  It’s too pat – Its trite, its tripe.  Try for a while – but can’t believe her – this is showbiz.  Creep out side door.  Nearby Ladbrokes – with a smokeless area – stay for 2 races – tranquil 40 minutes.  For all the sadness on the punters faces, feel more part of this.

            Return to masterclass during interval – join pal Harry – ex Prof. – real toff – sardonic wit.  ‘What do you make of Sue Ellen?’ I ask.  ‘Mountybank’ he says.  Not a word I know – look it up.  Spelt mountebank – from the Italian ‘monta in banco’ – climb on a bench.  Means ‘an itinerant quack appealing to an audience from a platform.’ Good word – but ‘chancer’ works for me.



Last week I remarked how many members of the government (English) were popping up extolling social enterprise – I asked, ‘what’s going on?’  Billy from Cupar emailed ‘New Labour policy is carefully orchestrated by very clever and cunning people.  This social enterprise hype is part of a smokescreen for the stripping down of local government and the outsourcing off of public services.  Don’t imagine for a minute that this lot support – or even understand – community empowerment.’  My reply to Billy ended: ‘As social enterprise gathers momentum into the mainstream – we are seeing the arrival of the camp followers – opportunists and outright mountebanks’ ‘What’s mountebanks?’ emails Bill.  ‘It’s from the Italian….’ I explain it all. ‘You mean chancers?’ he replies.



‘The Gathering’ Scotland’s voluntary sector fair – runs over 3 days next week Mon 14, Tues 14, Wed 15.  It’s at the SECC in Glasgow and SCVO hope to raise the attendance from last year’s impressive 3500 to 4500.  As well as exhibits and seminars there’s a café with entertainment – interactive arts and crafts and much more.  On the social enterprise theme, look out for ‘Transforming your organisation’, ‘The marketplace’ and ‘Taking a loan of finance’. More info




20% of people of working age in the UK have disabilities. Yet a recent survey of the voluntary sector shows that only 1% of the sector’s employees are disabled. Even within disability charities the figures only rise to 2.1%. Should our sector not be setting a better example?



The Scottish Parliament has a renewable energy group and at a conference it organised last week James Dunning, MD of Geotropes Energy, said ‘conditions are now right for community-led wind farms to be developed with the communities keeping control to the benefit of everyone in those communities.



That’s the end of this year’s appeal for money. 75 of you donated £3,454. This is £1,500 short of last year but there are still dribbles coming in.  Full list of donors at – our sincere thanks.  As the young Vito Corleone (Bob De Niro) said, ‘We no forget our friends’.



YELLOW PAGES/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: 59 vacancies, incl. posts with: Re-Union, Youthlink Scotland, Perthshire Housing Association, Fresh Start, CVS Argyll, Assist Social Capital.


EVENTS: Glasgow; Access Europe 2005 exhibition, 22 Feb, Edinburgh; Sustainable Communities conference, 6th Mar 2005, Edinburgh; ‘As If By Magic…Putting Communities at the Heart of Community Planning’ 11 March, Motherwell 15 March, The Social Economy in rural Scotland – leading the way? Making the case seminar, 17 March, Dumfries; BabyGROE annual conference weekend, 5-6th May, Kingscote Park, Gloucestershire.



Tracey Muirhead (Brag Enterprises) writes to inform us of the new SSE Fife programme starting on 1st April. This year’s programme – Supporting Exceptional People – is SSE Fife’s 3rd year long programme

and aims to follow on the success of the previous two programmes. Places are still available for people who are resident in Fife. (



Crofters on Lewis are attempting to force landowners (the Graham family) to sell part of the Galston estate. This hostile buy out will be the first such test of the Scottish Land reform laws. ( 



Carol Craig’s Centre for Confidence and well-being is up and running, with a new website which gives a good feel to what they’re about: The newsletter includes a ‘think piece’ on why we Scots don’t fancy charismatic gurus:



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise located at the National Mountain Centre in Aviemore. Equal Adventure Developments (EAD) is committed to removing barriers faced by disabled people seeking full and meaningful participation in outdoor activities and active lifestyles. It offers a range of people-centred multi-disciplinary, research, design development, training and information initiatives to ensure individuals and their organisation can overcome barriers. EAD was established in response to a growing demand for inclusive facilities and programmes in sport and healthy lifestyles. Founder, Suresh Paul, has recently won  a level 2 award through Scotland unLtd. More info:



Kenzaburo Oe (pronounced oh-way), won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1994 – now aged 70 – he is a fierce opponent of resurgent militarism in Japan.  When he was 28 Oe’s first child was born brain damaged and for a while he hoped for the infant’s death.  ‘A disgraceful period of time,’ he later wrote, ‘which no powerful detergent has allowed me to wash from my life.’  At that time a doctor – tending Hiroshima survivors – said to him ‘Never despair or hope too much.’  This doctor’s example of forbearance convinced Oe, beyond doubt that his child must live.

            Oe says that he was trained as a writer, and as a human being, by the birth of his son.  He has written a cycle of books about his relationship with the child – who is autistic and epileptic – books marked by an extraordinary power of sympathetic understanding.  ‘I feel human beings can heal themselves’ – he says – the will to be healed, and the power of recovery are very strong in us that’s the most important thing I’ve learned in my life with my son.  I’m not a Christian but sometimes I feel something very close to grace.’ (


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


Best wishes,



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