Senscot Bulletin: 11.10.13

Dear members and friends,

 Following Senscot’s AGM last Friday – walking a friend to Waverly Station – we pause at Barioja in Edinburgh’s Jeffrey Street.  The next table is enjoying a bottle of Gran Vina Sol – one of my favourites tipples back in the day; the clink of those big glasses – it looks beautifully chilled – I really want a glass – for a few seconds I wobble.  September 4th was the anniversary of the day I stopped drinking – 12 years ago – such rogue impulses are thankfully rare – get thou behind me, Satan.
 Reflecting on my drinking history – I was probably prone to depression – and for a long time alcohol worked for me; not only would it make the sadness go away – it brought a heightened, almost mystical, exhilaration.  Tennessee Williams wrote “It’s like a switch clickin’ in my head – turns the hot light off and the cool light on – suddenly there’s peace.”  But gradually the magic stopped working – there came a point when the booze took more than it gave; I could feel bits of me leaving – that it was bringing me down.
 Brain science has little understanding why one person, rather than another, escapes addiction – all I can say is that being sober feels like the most amazing luck.  No one captures this gratitude as honestly as Raymond Carver in his poem Gravy – a hymn of thanksgiving: “He was going nowhere but down – so he changed his ways somehow – he quit drinking.  And the rest?  After that it was all gravy – every minute of it”.  See Gravy,

“Our vision is of a resilient Scottish third sector – with the capacity to create our own financial services and products – which match our values and aspirations”.  With financial support from Scottish Govt – Senscot continues to coordinate the development of the Scottish Community Banking Trust (SCBT).  For those unable to attend last Friday’s seminar – the presentation slides are attached.  There are 3 main components to grasp 1) SCBT itself – open and accountable to Scotland’s third sector – the sovereign body (how best to structure this) 2) The Anchor Fund – inviting our sector to pool a proportion of our reserves (the choice of partner bank is crucial).  3) The Launch Fund – to make smaller/riskier loans (our research identified this as the main unmet need).  Our team has a good mix of enthusiasm and realism. See,

During the ‘dark decades’ of  One Party municipalist Scotland – COSLA (Local Govt’s umbrella body) was the bastion of Labour’s command and control culture.  Community organisations were openly mocked – quietly blocked; any local empowerment that happened was in spite of the Council.  But times are a-changin’ – colleagues over at Scottish Community Alliance (SCA) report a thawing in COSLA’s attitude – with the recent launch of its Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy.  I’ve read the Commission’s remit (hopeful) and its membership (less so).  Forgive me if I reserve judgement – some of us still skeptical. Leader in this week’s SCA Briefings has links,

“Children demonized by the media are often described as feral – but feral is what children should be; it means released from captivity or domestication”.  This is maybe a bit overstated – but I love the key point of this piece by George Monbiot; that our children – especially those who live with all the restrictions of poverty – are greatly enriched by exposure to wild nature – by the opportunity to roam free.  See,

The Westminster Parliament has a committee called the Scottish Affairs Committee – which is conducting an enquiry into land reform in Scotland.  The key document under consideration is a paper produced by the crack foursome of Jim Hunter, Peter Peacock, Andy Wightman and Michael Foxley.  As you can imagine, these acknowledged land reformers are working on an agenda well ahead of the thinking of our Scottish Parliament. See info with link to their paper,

Writing in the Daily Record – and following the Green Party’s Conference vote on the issue – Patrick Harvie puts the case for the community ownership of football clubs.  Senscot has long championed the view that – particularly our small clubs – are very important community assets; the right of local people to nurture them as community enterprises should be enshrined in the new community empowerment bill.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: The Surefoot Effect CIC,Scottish Drugs Forum, Transition Stirling, Venture Trust, Community Transport Glasgow, Mental Health Foundation, Big Lottery Fund, Evolution Skate Park Scotland Ltd
EVENTS: East End Women’s Heritage Walk, 13 Oct; Bert Mullen Lecture, 18 Oct; An Introduction to Tendering, 22 Oct; The Base – Cloud Technology Workshops, 8 Nov;
TENDERS: Community Health Activity (South Glasgow) – NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Independent Advocacy and Mediation Services – Renfrewshire Council and Support Services for Children and Young People – Future Contract Opportunity for Edinburgh City Council. See,

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Deadline for Dragons’ Den Applications for this year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh next Friday,18th October – with a prize of £5k on offer. If you are brave enough, here’s the application form – . There are only a few overnight places available so if you’d still like to come along for the full event, contact asap. Day delegate places are still available and, again, if interested, contact Karina. We’re moving towards having the final programme agreed and will have a full list of speakers available over the next week or so. In the meantime, here’s the draft programme,  For more Networks News, see

Our comment last week about hosting a seminar on ‘Failure’ has generated quite a bit of interest. So much so that we are looking to schedule an event in Glasgow for early December – 40/50 folk? Already, we have had ‘volunteers’ offering to share their experiences. We’ll have more info’ on this in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Alan Kay (CBS Network) has kindly sent us a paper that John Pearce wrote in 2005, titled “’Learning from Failure: Lessons in how to strengthen and build the social enterprise sector”. Alan informs us that the paper is currently used in Glasgow Caley’s MSc in Social Enterprise course.

The Big Lottery in Scotland invests nearly £1m per week in communities across Scotland. They are currently recruiting 4 new Board members. Could be a great opportunity for a member of our SE community to help shape its strategic direction. If you’re interested, see  Also on the look-out for new Board members is Glasgow SEN member, Impact Arts – a national arts organisation working in the fields of youth employment, services to older people, community arts and regeneration. Again, if interested, see,

I’m sure we all have some reservations about Food Banks – where they’re taking us.  A Canadian community organiser, Nick Saul, has written a thoughtful book about his experience – a model of empowerment rather than charity – see,  To address
concerns about a growing dependency on Food Banks,  the Food Banks Partnership Aberdeen has been formed this week. The Partnership, led by the City Council and local SEN members, CFINE, Instant Neighbour Trust and the Cyrenians, aims to coordinate food banks in the city while guiding users towards services that can prevent them becoming reliant on these resources. For more, see,

This week’s bulletin profiles Scotland’s first Recovery Café – run by people in recovery for people in recovery and public customers in a relaxed space. The Serenity Café, based off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, was set up in 2009 by the social innovation charity, Comas ( The Café is now guided by a group of people in recovery, with over 40 volunteers, all in recovery themselves, and over 200 recovery community members involved in the café and its community activities – that include training programmes and space/event hire – see,  For more, see 

Raymond Carver wrote this heart rending poem ‘To My Daughter’ begging her to stop drinking. 

"You’re a beautiful drunk, daughter. But you’re a drunk…  You’ve been drunk for three days, you tell me, when you know goddamn well drinking is like poison to our family.  Didn’t your mother and I set you example enough? Two people who loved each other knocking each other around, knocking back the love we felt, glass by empty glass, curses and blows and betrayals?  You must be crazy! Wasn’t all that enough for you? You want to die? Maybe that’s it. Maybe I think I know you, and I don’t. I’m not kidding, Kiddo. Who are you kidding?  Daughter, you can’t drink."

This excerpt links to poem,

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210