Senscot Bulletin 13.02.15

Dear members and friends,


Somewhere in my fifties – I met an old priest who had taught me at a boarding school aged 8 – 11; Fr McArdle remembered a turbulent child – dashing about – ‘tail on fire’. What fragments I recall of childhood, accord with his image; a haze of confusion and tormented inadequacy; seeing people only in relation to my own needs; is this just a description of ‘being young’?  But turbulence carried into adulthood – a driven energy – constantly overreaching itself. ‘Calm’ would come when ‘this’ settled down; this crisis – this project – this relationship; always another ‘this’. But peace can only exist in the present moment; if peace is truly what you want – you’ll be at peace now.
            In the village shop on Saturday for rolls and papers – friendly woman remarks that, whenever she’s down at the church she admires my garden – so restful; I thank her – surprised how this pleases me. Led to reflect how, during 10 years in this cottage, I’ve simplified the way I live – slowly eliminating non essentials. Nothing like ‘subsistence living’ – on the ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’ – just a clearer understanding of what matters to me: slowing everything down; ‘having’ and ‘doing’ less – but ‘enjoying’ more. Self-sufficient in proportion to the things I can do without.
             My favourite bedside book – the Tao Te Ching – counsels us to cultivate less, rather than more: “in the pursuit of power and knowledge, every day something is added. In the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped”. With less clutter – even ‘peace’ drops in from time to time.


Each year, Senscot invites financial donations from readers who wish to contribute to the cost of producing this bulletin.  Traditionally, around 100 individuals give an average of £25 to become full company members. Senscot’s board is elected by and is accountable to these members. We also invite donations from individuals or organisations who simply want to support what we do (amounts between £5 and £500). To join or to donate, see more.


One of the more stupid projects initiated by Gordon Brown and New Labour – was offering up our third sector to the banking fraternity – as a new asset class for the money markets. The products on offer turned out to be so remote from our needs that no one wants them – but the UK government’s determination to push debt finance on us is unrelenting. The third sector in Scotland has sufficient reserves to capitalise its own mutual bank, it if choses; keeping investment circulating within our own family of public benefit organisations. SCRT exists precisely to explore our sector’s appetite for this bold idea: third sector organisations, with substantial reserves, are encouraged to make a deposit in an aggregated Anchor account with Airdrie Savings Bank; potentially as the precursor of a new financial institution. Our collective financial heft is but a fraction of what it could be. See more.


I’ve never been bashful about my support for Scottish Independence – but commitment to subsidiarity extends right down to communities – and I find myself at odds with the SNP’s centralising tendencies. The scrapping of regional police forces, into one giant one, was always a mistake. The top man has the swagger of Wyatt Earp about him. It’s no surprise to me that an ongoing series of ‘incidents’ – threatens fragile public consent; the further they move from local ‘influence’, the more isolated police officers will become; it’s not rocket science.


Much credit to our First Minister – down in London this week telling Westminster politicians that Scotland would steer a different, fairer, more compassionate path out of fiscal deficit, see more.  It’s easy for people like myself – who live comfortably – to lose touch with the daily pain of families choosing between heat and food. Kevin McKenna’s Observer piece is out and about on the streets of Glasgow – the city he loves.
The protracted negotiations over the sale of the Castle Toward estate – between Argyll and Bute Council and the South Cowal Community Development Company – have thrown up deficiencies in the current legislation; the First Minister even got herself involved in the parliament, see more.  Andy Wightman’s Land Matters website suggests that the Community Empowerment Bill should be amended – and that in cases culpable delay – compulsory purchase should be invoked. Community empowerment needs to be backed by robust legislation – or some Councils will simply ignore it. See More.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, DSL Business Finance, Instant Neighbour, The Touring Network, Royal Blind, Turning Point Scotland, Bloombox Salads, Stepping Stones for Families,
EVENTS: Social Impact Measurement, 19 Feb; Community Shares Scotland – Aberdeen Roadshow, 24 Feb; Advanced Leadership Practice, 25 Feb; An Introduction to Selling, 25 Feb; Costing & Pricing, 3 Mar;
TENDERS: Feasibility Study for Future Use of Lochmaddy Hospital Site, Self-Directed Support (SDS) Information & Advice Service – North Ayrshire Council, Framework for the Provision of early learning childcare places – South Ayrshire Council, Host Organisation For Community Builders (Family Nurture Asset Based Community Building Programme) – Fife Council and more.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: As SENs are getting more established, more are hosting their own conferences. Next up – later this month – is South Ayrshire SEN (SASEN) who will be holding their event on 27th Feb at The Carrick Centre in Maybole. The event will help you put the basic processes and elements of your social enterprise in place so you are better prepared for operating your business. The theme is on ‘starting up and fine tuning your enterprise’. Attendees will hear from a range of experts on topics covering marketing; governance and legal structure; insurance requirements; VAT; social media; and more general business support. There will also be an update on what is happening in the SASEN. In addition, there will be info on valuable training and development opportunities being made available by SASEN in partnership with South Ayrshire Council and the University of West of Scotland, see more.  For more SENs News, see here.


Job Advert: Senscot is recruiting for a new Health/Community Food SEN Co-ordinator. As reported last week, Danielle is moving on to devote her time and energies to running her own social enterprise ‘Tribe Porty’. The post, funded through Scottish Govt, will seek to provide ongoing support to both the Health and Community Food SENs and Roundtables. Closing date for applications is Friday 27th Feb. For an application pack etc, see more


The growth of foodbanks has become a barometer for the debate about poverty in the UK – but, typically, they offer only short term ‘crisis’ help. A new report, ‘British Aisles’ from the Demos Thinktank-claims that for many, food poverty is ‘chronic’; it looks at 45 models of more sustainable ‘community supermarkets’ across the UK, Europe, the world. These are typically ‘not for profit’ retail food outlets – selling produce well below market prices; they seek to be sustainable by the use of volunteers and all manner of mutual financing models. High potential growth area for SE.


Our friends at Community Enterprise Ltd are looking for interested parties in exploring the idea of establishing a Third Sector Enterprise Centre in West Lothian – a kind of hub – that will both strengthen existing enterprises in the area as well as stimulating new entrepreneurial activity.  In addition to offering affordable quality accommodation and meeting space to third sector orgs and SEs in West Lothian, the ‘hub’ will look to encourage innovation and joint working as well as developing job creation and mutual learning. See more.


This week’s bulletin profiles a ‘social circus’ company – based in Peterhead – that uses circus as a medium for engaging with young people in Aberdeenshire. Modo works with young people, from across the region, delivering one-off circus skills workshops, long term programmes and large scale community extravaganzas. The goal of providing local youngsters with positive, progressive and accredited activities is combined with celebrating and creating the culture and community of the region. Modo’s projects range from a single group performing to their peers – to hundreds of participants coming together to create a huge spectacular – catering for all ages and abilities, not just in Aberdeenshire but across Scotland.  See more


This is from-‘The art of ageing: inspiration for a positive and abundant later life’  by John Lane – Green Books.

“Some people may experience bad health, unhappiness and grief, but for many their later years can be amongst the happiest they have known – years that provide unequalled opportunities for creative growth enriched by mature relationships with children, grandchildren, spouse or partner and beloved friends. The shallowness of inexperience can be replaced by a depth of understanding and complexity of being; and restless speed with the serenity of untroubled leisure. Now there is time for experiment and creativity, time for exploring our different potentials, time to live in accordance with our dreams, time to be ourselves.”


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