Senscot Bulletin: 11-05-2007

Dear members and friends,

Sometimes bad moods come to shake me – can’t trace their source – can’t make them go – just have to ride them out.  This week anger comes – a slow burning fury seeps into everything – spend most of three days in garden – good energy – good fatigue.  One day a family strolls by – their wee one has a temper tantrum – the awesome untamed rage of a two year old.  But her dad holds her safe till she calms down – till all smiles they move on.  This is what toddlers do – wee learning machines. But what use the rage of the old against decline?  Dylan Thomas – “Do not go gentle into that good night.”
 Tuesday was the rerun of my prostate biopsy.  Last time I took Valium – got through it cracking jokes.  This time I go cold turkey – to prove something? Mistake! Courage is overrated – gimme the pills.  The two hour wait in particular unnerves me – like the queue at school for the belt – hoping you don’t start crying. Though we hardly speak, I like the chap on my left – my age but somehow more composed; the hands of an artisan. His face has kindness and strength – bet he won’t cry. As he is leaving, the head nurse comes out and asks him to wait back.  The message we all dread: “The doctor would like a word.”  Walking down the road in blustery sunshine I keep expecting to get called back.  But no one comes after me – it’s not my turn – not this time.

The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, whom I usually agree with, is an opponent of localism – sees it as a Tory conspiracy for less government and less redistribution between rich and poor. In spite of the difficulties, I believe that releasing the energy latent in our communities is the only way to go. When health and welfare are perceived as things to be provided and organised from above by the state, demand becomes infinite. A report from the British Medical Association this week says what we all pretend not to know – that health care must be rationed. If we look in detail at what really goes on in society, 99 out of every hundred acts of healing, care and support are carried out informally within the family or neighbourhood. The relationship between government and citizens should reinforce this. In communities where basic human kinship has been destroyed, a properly resourced community sector can help reform it. I think Gordon Brown understands this. This article by Stan Windass argues that it is not either/or – that the ‘enabling’ state and local initiatives need each other:

As predicted the face of municipal Scotland has been transformed in the past week – it will be interesting to watch how this changes the whole regeneration/community development agenda. The new SNP leadership can refer to a wealth of research and experience on the importance of local leadership in community renewal. Practitioners should be aware of the main findings of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s ‘Changing Communities’ 4 year programme.

In general I think there are too many awards for social entrepreneurs and social enterprises – not sure they’re worth the time and trouble – but two are worth mentioning this week. Firstly, Enterprising Solutions, because it is in my view the top one, run by the Social Enterprise Coalition (on behalf of the Government and RBS). Another reason is that Scotland has always done well – till last year when we got nowt:
The second, worth your attention, is a brand new one – the first sortie by The Independent newspaper into our world. Along with the Schwab Foundation, they are looking for the Social Entrepreneur of the Year, and the attached introductory piece is better than the usual fluff stuff:

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: 42 vacancies, incl. posts with: Almond Enterprises, mediaco-op, PrintAbility Scotland Limited, Bethany Christian Trust, Garrison House (Cumbrae), Equal Futures, Nisus Scotland

SSEC is seeking bids to deliver its 2006/07 social audit:

EVENTS: 12 events, incl. Community Cohesion & the Equality Agenda for the 21st Century, SECC, 24 May; Shakti Women’s Aid 21st Anniversary Celebration Dinner, Edinburgh June 2; Fly Right Dance Company, Midsummer Madness Family Ball, Haddington 23 June.

Edinburgh Foodchain is seeking committee members for a community-supported agriculture project, as well as1-2 acres of land for growing vegetables within a 15 mile radius of Edinburgh. Contact Jude 07708305436.

Development Trusts Association Scotland’s annual conference is fast becoming one of the community sector’s main events. Numbers already signed up for 2007’s suggest it’s almost certain to be oversubscribed, so if you’re keen, register quickly to avoid disappointment. Dates: 10-11 June, Easterbrook Hall, The Crichton, Dumfries. Keynote speakers: Willy Roe of HIE, Peter McGurn of Goodwin Development Trust, and Mark Edwards, author of ‘Hard Rain’:

For many years there have been discussions about the social enterprise sector having its own ‘kite mark’ – something like ‘Fairtrade’. This idea is moving forward but I fear the accreditation process will re-open tortuous discussions about what is and what isn’t a social enterprise – groan:   

The latest issue of Resurgence magazine carries an edited version of Muhammed Yunus’s Nobel Prize 2006 acceptance speech. Social enterprise practitioners who want a conceptual basis for their work may, like me, adopt Yunus’ economic theory: “Poverty is not caused by poor people. It has been created and sustained by the economic and social systems we have designed for ourselves, the institutions and concepts that made up that system, and the policies that we pursue.”

This week’s bulletin again profiles a ‘first’ in terms of social enterprise in Scotland and, most probably, in the UK. Pace Recruitment, located at Crosshill Business Centre in Fife, was set up in 2006 and specialises in finding the right people for the right jobs. They are particularly keen to work with smaller organisations who either don’t have the time or experience to successfully run a recruitment process with minimum ‘hassle’.  Pace Recruitment can take all that stress away. They see their role as helping employers and applicants find, keep and develop good working relationships whilst using all of their profits to work with those who have more difficulty finding a job. For more info’, see

Philip Larkin is one of my very favourite poets because his sophistication doesn’t require sophistication form the reader. In Dockery and Son he ponders the unconscious influences which shape our lives – how we become who we are:

“Where do these innate assumptions come from? Not from what we think truest, or most want to do:
those warp tight-shut, like doors. They’re more a style our lives bring with them: habit for a while, suddenly they harden into all we’ve got. Life is first boredom, then fear. Whether or not we use it, it goes, and leaves what something hidden from us chose, and age, and then the only end of age.”

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

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available See: