Senscot Bulletin: 12.06.09

Dear members and friends,

Posh hotel – 70th birthday party – 10 couples whom I’ve known for years.  A glitzy gathering of self-made business people – mostly successful – some with that special sheen which power bestows. My own business career got off to a flying start before I was 20 – I looked like a winner – plenty flair but not enough hard edge – over a 10 year period I went steadily backwards.  Failure can be some kind of unconscious choice – to change direction.  A psychologist once asked me to imagine what it would feel like to be my money.  After consideration, I wrote the words “disrespected and abused”.  I suppose that says it all. Nearing the end of my working life, I wish I’d been more comfortable around finance – organised a wee nest egg. But when you get down to it, very little is necessary to live a happy life; a simple dwelling – heat – good food  – health care – friends – meaningful work.  With these basics we are already in the most privileged group on the planet – I feel very fortunate.
My dad lived 79 years – which would give me another decade.  I enjoy writing and gardening – I’ll keep these going – but gradual decline is inevitable – non negotiable.  There is no such inevitability about the decline of our inner life however – age is no disadvantage on the journey of the soul.  Buddhists have the best language for the inner journey – and that saffron robe is cool. I’ve enrolled on the path to awakening.

Dumfries and Galloway Council is tendering for work with the explicit aim of building social capital – part of their single outcome agreement.  Senscot searches the worldwide web every day for references to key words or phrases.  Over the past year, links to the term ‘social capital’ have increased fourfold – have overtaken ‘social enterprise’.  Although it is now in mainstream use across the world, the term ‘social capital’ is not used by Scottish Government.  For Senscot, this is ‘déjà vu’ – because we can remember a few years ago when the then Scottish Executive wouldn’t use the term social enterprise.  Seriously!  Civil servants and their individual preferences, come and go – out in the real world we just get on with it – but it would be helpful if our national government was attuned to what’s coming – not what’s been and gone.

The British National Party openly foments racial hatred – their electoral progress diminishes us all. It is not well known that, in the highly politicised Scotland of the 1930s, some mill workers in Hawick fought Fascism by creating a social enterprise. They took over a disused mill – formed a workers` co-op – and supplied clothing for Republican troops in Spain. Great story.

The Development Trust movement continues to grow in Scotland – now with 130 member Trusts. They give high priority to the success of their annual gathering and it was a real inspiration to be at Dunblane Hydro on Monday with so many front line activists. The highlight for me was the speech from Elwyn James, CEO of the Arts Factory in Wales` Rhondda Valleys. An honest, no frills, story about the ups and downs of creating a community owned development trust in an area suffering economic hardship. The very existence of some development trusts – in the face of `official` discouragement – is nothing short of heroic. Here’s Elwyn`s speech,

The first tranche of Enterprise Fund awards has been announced this week. This Scottish Govt Fund (£12m) is to help third sector organisations make a `step change` by increasing their capacity and capability.12 organisations are the beneficiaries of this round of awards. There’s an impressive mix of enterprises working in local communities throughout the country. See full list,

Many Scottish social enterprises have been waiting for Comic Relief to announce criteria for this year`s round of grants (£78m collected). Here’s an update

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: incl. posts with Glasgow East Regeneration Agency, Station House Media Unit, Sidekix, Moore House Care & Education, JMT Care Services, NHS 24, Scottish Churches Housing Action, Angus Mental Health Association (AMHA), CSL Training, Evaluation and Development, Aberdeen Foyer
EVENTS: Women Make History West End Map Launch, Glasgow Women’s Library, 21 Jun; Dealing with Conflict, CSL Training, Evaluation and Development, 22 Jun; East Lothian Artists/Therapy in Art, The Accessible Art Company, 7 Jul;

NETWORKS NEWS: Colin writes: CEiS is running a series of FREE seminars this month on contracting opportunities for social enterprises in government programmes. These seminars are a key step in establishing partnerships and collaborations that can help gain and retain business. There will be 4 seminars held across the country;  Inverness – Monday 22nd June; Glasgow – Thursday 25th June; Edinburgh –  Friday 26th June; Dundee – Monday 29th June; For more and other Networks News, see

Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH) launched their web-based Community Ideas Campaign last week. The campaign, borrowed from a very successful Irish initiative, will set a challenge to people in Scotland to be innovative and creative and to play their part in planning this country’s recovery and renewal. It is also the first step in a wider independent citizens` campaign. To sign up, see

I first became aware of social entrepreneur Madge Bray through her influential book, “Poppies on the Rubbish Heap” about her inspiring work with traumatised children. Madge is now linked to a home for abandoned children in Georgia (part of the former USSR) – twinned with a Lanarkshire Primary School – and is exploring the beneficial effects of Georgian Harmony singing and dancing. She sends this vignette from Colin’s Social Capital Conference. See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles a community enterprise operated by Augment (Scotland) Ltd. Angus Community Enterprise (ACE) was launched two years ago as a community enterprise and employability project. Based in Arbroath, it caters for the whole of Angus, providing a Clubhouse/Community Resource based on the International Clubhouse Model. Its activities are split into the following areas: business, employment & education, catering and maintenance, membership, finance and governance and social firms. For more, see

The writer Diana Athill, now in her 90s, had spectacular success last year with her candid musings on what its like to be old – called `Somewhere Towards the End`.  From the book, this is an extract from a ‘kind of poem’ she wrote after the death of her mother.

Her collapsed body eased, she was disconcerting to be with because so alive. On the edge of ceasing to exist
there, she was, herself, tired but perfectly ordinary, telling me what to do with her dog and where to find her will. When my cousin protested ‘But you’ll soon be back home’ she was cross. ‘Don’t be absurd,’ she said, ‘I could go any minute.’ Then, after a long sleep, she turned her head a little and said, ‘Did I tell you that last week Jack drove me to the nursery garden, to buy that eucalyptus?’ I too loved that garden and the drive through the country we had both known all our lives. ‘You told me he was going to,’ I said. ‘Was it fun?’
She answered dreamily – her last words before sleeping again out of which sleep she didn’t wake: ‘It was absolutely divine.’

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

Best wishes,

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