Senscot Bulletin: 12-08-2005


(Going out weekly to over 2700 ; see our searchable archive of bulletins)



Dear members and friends,

The fragility of life. Robin and Gaynor walking in the hills – then he’s dead at her feet. How does one begin to cope with that? Poor woman. How to find a reason to go on living? And the submariners – trapped on the seabed, running out of air and hope. Then goodwill mobilises around the world – deliverance and joy. No wonder grown men and women wept. But much in human affairs is ugly just now. So many tormented people – so much racial hatred. Some times I just want to escape.
 Near where I live is the site of an ancient abbey. I like to sit in the old graveyard and imagine being a monk: the divine office – Gregorian chant – study in the old library – tending the beautiful garden. A life dedicated to God – rational – ordered – the world shut out. But William Blake wrote, “he who would do good to others must do it in minute particulars.” Brother Thomas in the refectory slurping his soup. Brother Oliver in the choir singing off key – day after day. Community life is not an escape – not for crabbit people, like me.
 From my desk – watching the fledgling bluetits trying to get the hang of the birdfeeder. A sparrow hawk hits one of them from on high – flies off with it. Sickening – like a pub fight which is over in one ferocious punch. Then quickly back to normal – finches and tits squabbling over peanuts. It seems so arbitrary – who dies, who lives on for a while. Carpe diem. Seize the day, my friends.

The social economy sector in Scotland still awaits the appointment of the promised Advisory Group and Senscot understands that discussions are ongoing between SCVO and the Executive about this and other infrastructure matters.  We also understand that there is to be a review of Futurebuilders with proposals for a successive programme.  Then there is the issue of a distinct social enterprise strategy and the option that this should go over to the Enterprise dept. (ETLLD).  Clearly all this meeting and manoeuvring in the corridors of power will have some effect on what we all do – but I often wonder how much.
 In someone’s front room somewhere, a few folk are meeting to discuss the social use of some abandoned council property.  They know nothing of these meetings and reviews – they act from a deep instinct for community – for social justice. These are the important meetings.  It’s only when these stop that we should begin to worry.

Roddy MacDonald (Head of Social Economy Unit) has sent us a paper on the work of the Unit. This includes updates on the Investment and Seedcorn Funds as well as news on their Strategy Development. Announcement of the latest awards awaits Malcolm Chisholm’s return. Link to Roddy e-mail

You may be aware that a commitment to establish a Cooperative Development Agency (CDA) is part of the current ‘Programme for Government’ of the Scottish Executive.  We can now post a background briefing note which tells what it will cost – what it will do and who will run it.  If it starts early next year, that will mean a lead in period of 30 months – which suggests that no-one is in much of a hurry.  But the placement of the CDA as a subsidiary of Scottish Enterprise will be interesting to watch and may influence future decisions about where the wider social enterprise sector is supported.

Last week’s piece on the GHA has prompted a number of responses including this one, “Your bit about GHA last week rightly highlights the press coverage and letters about GHA’s sluggish progress in transferring real ownership and control to the Local Housing Organisation network. No one said it was easy but I suspect some senior people are dragging their feet. Press coverage today suggests it might not happen until 2033! Anyway my point is more about the banks and their ‘control’ over GHA. This is exaggerated, did you know that in GHA’s first year of operation they made an operating surplus of £80 million and became overnight the UK’s financially most successful RSL. (a very successful social business!) Relieved of the debt GHA is now a huge cash generating machine and to date as far as I know has not drawn down any of the private money set aside by the banks.”

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: 50 vacancies, incl. posts with: West Lothian Youth Theatre, Govan Initiative Ltd, YWCA Glasgow, Royston Youth Action, The Furniture Recycling Project, Community Enterprise in Strathclyde

EVENTS: Social Enterprise Academy information and ‘taster’ events Edinburgh 16 Aug, Dundee 23 Aug;  Social enterprise ‘Supercoaching’ workshop’s, Glasgow, 12-16 Sept; ‘New Directions in Social Enterprise’ seminar, Inverness, 29 Sept; ‘Making Knowledge Work’, social capital conf., Stirling, 25-28 Oct.

Social Enterprise Academy ‘Learning Journey’, North Glasgow, 15-16 Sept, focused on cultural approach to regeneration:

SPECIAL OFFER: Get your fair-trade corporate Christmas cards from the One World Shop here:

A number of weeks back, we reported on interest from social enterprises in participating in the new NHS Complaints system. To date, we are aware of 10 social enterprises who have the track record to provide such a service. Last Friday, a number of these organisations met in Manor Place to consider how they could progress this interest. A note on the meeting:

The Grameen Bank’s Village Phone Project won the 2004 inaugural Petersburg Prize for the use of ICT to benefit the poor. The project has made loans to 60,000 women in Bangladesh to purchase mobile phones.  These self-employed ‘telephone ladies’ provide a telephone service to 80% of the village in the country.  I found Mohammad Yunus’ acceptance speech truly inspirational. In it he outlines a new programme targeted at beggars. “We invite them to consider carrying a collection of popular consumer items, financed by Grameen Bank, when they go out to beg from the rural households. They can do both begging and selling at their convenience. If their selling activity picks up, they may quit begging and focus on selling. Nearly 10,000 beggars have already joined the programme. We expect this number to exceed 25,000 by the end of the year. Typical loan to a beggar amounts to US$10.”

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that operates as a partnership organisation that incorporates three other social enterprises, two of which are also independently constituted. The Furniture Project (Tayside) was established in 1996. Its main purpose is to collect donations of unwanted furniture, electrical and other household goods from the general public. Such has been the success that three other organisations have been established over the years – The Dundee Furniture Project, The Furniture Project (Perth & Kinross) and Furniture Recycling Angus. One of the most interesting elements is that the four organisations share a team of specialist staff that include IT, Finance, Marketing and Transport. For further info’, see our ‘profiles’ section at

Is all great art the result of suffering? Why should this be so?  As usual Rilke has a marvellous understanding of the human ‘inscape.’  “Art is always the outcome of having been in danger, of having gone right to the end of an experience to where no human being can go further.  And the further one goes, the more peculiarly personal and unique does an experience become, and the art-object is but the necessary, irrepressible and most conclusive utterance of this uniqueness.” Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters, 24 June 1907

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

Best wishes,

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