Senscot Bulletin: 11-03-2005



(Going out weekly to over 2500; searchable archive of bulletins at web-site,


Dear members and friends,


Do you think that the Scots have a crisis of confidence like we’re being told?  Different folk have gone public recently on how we are pessimistic losers.  Apparently we’re no good at self promotion – but that’s just good manners.  Apparently we are suspicious of our leaders – nothing wrong with that – power corrupts.   We favour collective action rather than individuality – I’m proud of it.  We enjoy losing? No, I’d rather Hibs won – but what am I supposed to do – switch to Man U?

            I’ve a friend who moved to London 5 years ago – phoned to ask if he misses Scotland.  He replied, quite seriously, that when he comes up north – he feels like a prison visitor –  the culture of blame and intolerance.  He says that Scots in Scotland take ourselves too seriously – need to relax – have more fun.  This last point feels true.  Maybe that’s what attracts me to Spain – their love of fiesta – that they wear the world with a loose garment.

            Recently meet this smooth guy at some do – says he’s a life coach- whatever that is ‘I get your bulletin’ he says ‘I think I can help you’ ‘How do you mean?’ I say ‘Help me to what?’ ‘To be more successful – happier’ – What a cheek! – ‘I don’t want to be more successful’ I say  ‘and I think happiness is for saps’ – Pleased with the way I swerved him – and its probably true – that I’m quite content to be a skint depressive.  Maybe that’s the problem.



It was the Prime Minister, in an address to the voluntary sector in 1999, who neatly divided the 20th century into two.  In the first half, the country learned it could not achieve its aims without the help of government; in the second, that government could not achieve the nation’s aims without the help of the voluntary movement.  In the last decade the number of charities has risen from 98,000 to 166,000 – backed by another 200,000 community groups.  The Westminster government clearly sees a big role for our sector in the delivery of public services – but of course there are dangers.  Will our services become indistinguishable from those of the state or the private sector?  What about our traditional roles as the builders of community – of social capital – of local democracy. Delivering services pays the rent – don’t mock it – but the third sector has a more important significance – as organised, caring civil society – independent, and if necessary opposing government.  ‘Let democracy by our first philanthropy’



The first window for the Futurebuilders Investment and Seedcorn Funds closed today March 11, and is expected to re-open sometime in May. So far they have received over 100 Investment Fund applications worth over £35 million and have approved 4 applications to date. Also, there have been over 100 Seedcorn applications with 35 being approved. It is understandable if this batch of ‘early’ investments favour ‘well-kent’ enterprises/entrepreneurs – it’s safer. But arguably best value from investment would be the breakthrough of promising newcomers – future builders. (



On April 1, Senscot will become a Limited Company owned by its members.  We have emailed around 100 regular contacts inviting them to become founding members of the company – but our directors are concerned that this recruitment process should be seen to be open.  Full company membership of Senscot involves a commitment to help emerging social enterprises.  If you would like to receive the ‘full membership’ email contact:



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: 70 vacancies, incl. posts with: Positive Action in Housing, The Wise group, Intowork, Saheliya, CVS Falkirk, Jubilee Scotland.


EVENTS: ‘Making it happen – integrating Scotland’s new communities’, 24 March, Glasgow; HISEZ (the partnership programme between Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Communities Scotland and Social Firms Scotland) Inaugural Conference, Dingwall, 21 Apr; ‘More than Profit – Making the case for the Social Economy’, conference, Edinburgh, 1; ‘Making Knowledge Work’, international conference on place management, social capital and learning regions, Stirling, 25-28 Oct;



Community Recycling Network Scotland (CRNS) have received a further £5 million from the Executive to extend their Increase programme.  Went to the Parliament on Wednesday evening to hear Ross Finnie make the announcement – good atmosphere.  Community recycling is a ‘natural’ for social enterprise – local solutions to global issues. Link  



Gerry Hassan – the Scottish end of the think tank DEMOS – has produced another ‘thoughtful’ book about Scotland. He and co-editor Eddie Gibb argue there are three distinct Scotlands and futures on offer: Traditional, Modernist or Hopeful. They say we need new hopeful, outward looking stories that express the kind of society we want. I like this – will get the book.



My favourite fictional character – the one I would most like to have met – is John le Carre’s George Smiley.  Alec Guinness played him brilliantly.  What I didn’t know is that Smiley was modelled on a real person called Vivian Green – a ‘proxy father’ to le Carre – who has now died. In an appreciation last week le Carre wrote: ‘George Smiley must have all the qualities I lacked: Vivian’s patience, his sagacity, his discretion, his memory.  And that particular loneliness that comes from knowing and seeing a lot that you can’t do much about.  He must be a natural confessor, dependable unto death – a rock.  He must abhor violence, as Vivian did.  Like Vivian, Smiley must like his walks.  Best of all he must be a man in whom weaker souls find refuge – a gift that Smiley, I’m afraid, exploited to the hilt.  Vivian never would, and never did.’



This week’s bulletin profiles a Citizens Advice Bureau in the East End of Glasgow – the Parkhead CAB. Set up in 1990, Parkhead Cab has sought to alleviate the effects of poverty, disadvantage and economic exclusion experienced by people living in the area, through the provision of information, advice, advocacy, negotiation and representation. Altho’ traditionally grant funded, the last 18 months have seen Parkhead CAB move towards providing its services on a contract basis. These include contracts with Glasgow City Council , the Scottish Executive  and also a local Housing Association . For further info



Maybe you know someone who has been seriously ill and recovered, maybe you have yourself.  This poem is dedicated to Jean – who happily is still with us – to fight another day.

‘Taken severely ill, he is conscious only at brief intervals, enough to know that the diagnosis is as uncertain as the outcome, and well beyond any treatment __until one afternoon, he recovers enough to know that he is recovering, would live and not die, which seems a matter of great indifference except for the novelty.  He finds himself weeping, in amazement at the gift of it, as if no more related to him than the pattern of clouds

he can glimpse through a corner of the window.’ – Transmutation by Gael Turnbull.


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


Best wishes,



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