Senscot Bulletin: 12-05-2006

Dear members and friends,

It’s my birthday today Wednesday – my thanks to those who sent greetings.  I also receive occasional emails suggesting I undergo treatment for depression. These surprise me ‘cos I don’t consider my discouragement to be abnormal – though talking about it is  – normal folk pretend that everything’s terrific!  Even when it’s not.  The Buddha said it true – our suffering is inevitable – what matters is how well we walk through the fire. 
 Most days this week in Spain, I’ve walked the shoreline in sunlight – one day for 5 hours – couldn’t get enough of it.  Trudging along I try to ponder the meaning of life – but mostly I just collect coloured pebbles instead.  Neuroscientists are discovering how our brains work psychologically – how we process stuff like information – decisions – memory etc.  But apparently none of this has cast light on how we develop a coherent sense of ‘self.’  This makes me feel better – I’m not making much progress in that direction either.
 I’m booked on a 6pm flight to Edinburgh this evening but right now I’m writing in a beach bar and enjoying a good lunch.  For company I’m feeding a frightened, emaciated black kitten with beautiful undefeated eyes. I feel a surge of tenderness for this abandoned creature.  ‘Eat the good fish wee one and get strong. You’ll need a bit of luck to get through – but so do we all.’

The recent ministerial re-shuffle has brought smiles to the faces of Third Sector leaders in England with the creation of a new office for the Third Sector, strategically positioned in the Cabinet Office.  The new office, which will be led by Ed Miliband (David’s brother), will co-ordinate the Government’s approach to the sector across Whitehall.  This includes the Social Enterprise Unit which has moved over from the DTI and away from the Small Business Service.  The Cabinet Office is not itself a delivery department but is best placed to procure serious political backing for Social Enterprise across all the delivery departments like Home Office, Health etc.

David Miliband`s inspiring ideas to renew democracy in the UK by empowering communities are currently being fleshed out in an important white paper.  This task has now become the responsibility of the new Department of Communities and Local Government headed by Ruth Kelly.  Some of Miliband`s ideas – like the Community Right to Buy – will need to be defended from hostile civil servants.  I hope Ruth Kelly believes enough to fight for this white paper – which could change the face of poor communities. Her inaugural speech this week seems to step back from Miliband`s position. Rumoured that publication to be postponed from July to September.

Johann Lamont, the Deputy Minister for Communities, spoke at the recent launch of the new East Dunbartonshire Social Enterprise Network.  Her speech outlines the current Scottish Executive perspective on the place of social enterprise (and the awaited strategy) in their overall scheme of things.

In recent years Scotland has led two important elements of community empowerment – Community Land acquisition and now the community energy movement. Both have emanated from the Highlands where the Scottish Municipal Labour Party has no control. The first annual review of the Highlands and Islands Community Energy Company shows that more than 20 groups are now on their way to developing their own cash generating projects. If your community is thinking along these lines the Review is worth reading as it outlines some of the difficulties along the way.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs ( or events ( and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 19 vacancies, incl. posts with: Stepping Stones, Lifelong Learning UK, Gorbals Youth Café, Partners in Advocacy, Powerful Partnerships, Flourish House, The Scottish Executive

EVENTS: SBI Conference ’06, June 1, Glasgow; Supporting Social Enterprises in East Lothian, June 6, East Lothian; Redhall walled Garden Open Days, May 7 & 30, Edinburgh;

News from MEAL in Aberdeen. ME-FM (multi ethnic community radio) is going live from 8th to 31st May (24 hours each day) on 105.8FM, and also through the web – – after being granted another restricted service license by Ofcom. Each Thursday, they have a slot dedicated to social enterprise – including an interview with our Colin. To see their schedule, see
Last year’s Ceilidh for members of the 12 Social Enterprise Networks was deemed a success and will be repeated this November – again in New Lanark. Re-Union won the Dragon’s Den prize of £4k. Their pitch was based on securing a mooring at Edinburgh Quay and the impact this would have on their business. As of April, they achieved their goal. For more info’, see

Today`s Herald reports on the biggest land purchase by any housing association in Scotland. Cordale Housing Association in Renton has bought 30 acres of contaminated land to build 280 private and rented homes. For more info`, see

Triodos Bank has opened its first office in Scotland. Since it appointed David Cousland as Scottish manager in 2004, lending has doubled from £5.5 million to £11.7 million, with the number of projects supported increasing from 25 to 40. For more info’, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise that has emerged from the services provided by Renfrewshire CVS. CxS is a multi-disciplined IT company that offers a wide range of high quality services to businesses in the social enterprise, public and voluntary sector markets both locally and nationally. Their range of services is the same as IT companies operating in the business sector but available at a lower cost and with the added benefit that all profits will go to parent organisation RCVS to be used for charitable purposes. CxS also operates filming and editing service, including the production of final films on DVD. One of their biggest successes has been to pioneer one of the UK’s biggest Wireless Networks. For further info’, see

We cannot always be what others want us to be – what they want may not be what we are – and that`s all we have. We can only rely upon ourselves. This fragment of an untraced poem expresses this;
‘My happiness is me not you. Not only because you may be temporary, but also because you want me to be what I am not. I cannot be happy when I change merely to satisfy your selfishness. Nor can I feel content when you criticise me for not thinking your thoughts – for not seeing like you. You can call me a rebel, yet each time I have rejected your beliefs, you have rebelled against mine. I do not try to mould your mind. I know you are trying hard enough to be just you – and I cannot allow you to tell me what to be – for I am concentrating on being me.’

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

Best wishes,

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