Senscot Bulletin: 13-05-2005




Dear members and friends,


Wednesday was my 65th birthday – the old age pension – but nothing arrived – phoned the Pension Service,  ‘Do you know you can defer your pension?’ she said, ‘I’ll send the leaflet.’  I’m lucky enough to earn good money – if I retire – instead of me sending them £700 a month – they’ll send me £300 – a swing of a grand a month.  If I work till I’m 70 – that would be £60k – no wonder they want us to work on.  But if you enjoy it, it makes sense to earn as long as you can – especially if you’re skint.

            Heard on the radio that the oldest (verified) person lived 122 years – don’t fancy that.  It might be OK if you felt 35 – could play 5-a-side – or at least smack a golf ball without feeling dizzy – but to feel twice as decrepit as I do now – no thanks.  I know folk in their 80s – not for sissies.  But there are definitely compensations getting older – in my own case I’ve discovered the pleasures of ‘slowness’- that’s how I want to travel.  And the emergence of a new ‘balance’ – the rat race is somewhere ‘over there’ now.

            For as long as I can remember I daydreamed about swanking outside Sinatra’s bar in Puerto Banus, in an open Ferrari Testarossa – with a blonde film star.  Such fantasies of conquest and riches have quietened – replaced by more authentic dreams.  Rumi, the greatest of the Sufi saints, had it sussed ‘Inside the Great Mystery that is, we don’t really own anything.  What is this competition we feel then, before we go, one at a time, through the same gate?’



Several readers took issue with my opinion last week that Alan Sugar’s ‘Apprentice’ was a useful model for our young people – and on reflection I’ve changed my mind.  Sunday columnists Muriel Gray and Will Hutton wrote that the presentation of business as profit obsessed, brutish and ruthless, was a negative and inaccurate model for young people.  Muriel called Sugar a moron.

            The ‘Apprentice’ unequivocally celebrated profit making – business as the most powerful force in our society – but there is unease in our culture with this – particularly in the social economy we have a healthy disrespect for aspects of the private sector. But until the economists come up with a new model, we’ve stuck with the market economy – this could be why the boundaries between public/private/social are becoming blurred – mutating into new hybrids. Editorial in current Social Enterprise magazine argues that for certain businesses delivering social change – where social entrepreneurs take great personal risks – the most appropriate structure could be direct ownership by the entrepreneurs themselves. This model is commonplace in USA. Will it colonise UK? – do we want it?  



Communities Scotland has published its corporate plan covering 2005/8 which you can read on their website.  As CS is the main way Scottish government engages with our sector, it’s interesting to see where they think we fit in – for example only 3% of CS budget next year is for developing the social economy.  Target Eight tells us that they intend to have supported 500 social economy organisations by the end of 2008 – including direct investment to expand 100 of them.  You may also want to check out the glossary which included ‘official’ definitions of: community planning partnership – social economy – community ownership etc:     



This week, Colin is attending the ‘Empowering the Community Conference’ in Knoydart – including launch of the new Community Energy Company set up by HIE and Scottish Natural Heritage – to support community-owned alternative energy companies – a rolling fund of grants and loans. Colin says weather spectacular but midges biting. For further info, contact (Background:



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: 59 vacancies, incl. posts with: Blake Stevenson, Big Lottery fund, Lanarkshire Links, Edinburgh Community Food Initiative, Grounds for Learning, SCVO


EVENTS: ‘Making the case for the Social Economy’, conf., Edinburgh, 1 June; Action & Ideas’ – One Day Workshop, Aberdeen June 8; ‘Energising our Communities’ seminar, Isle of Gigha, 15-17 June; Equal ‘Making the case for the social economy’ seminar, Inverness, 16 June; ‘Getting down to business’ conference, DTAS, Perth, 20 June.



Futurebuilders is expected to reopen in early June – perhaps with some procedural changes.  Senscot understands that no more than 40% will be committed from the first round around £5 million.



The last couple of weeks has seen six separate social enterprise network meetings taking place across the country. These events have included Nick Baxter (Cornerstone), recent winner of the Upstarts social entrepreneur of the year award, being invited to share his experiences with the Fife SEN. Also, the cultural network have agreed to commission a research brief on the value of social enterprise to the cultural sector. For further info’, contact (Background:



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise based in Walkerburn in Peebleshire. Home Basics has been operating since 1999 and currently has three main areas of activity – social, environmental and training based, around a furniture re-use project that helps disadvantaged communities and individuals in the Scottish Borders. Set up as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status, Home Basics now employs 6 staff and generates a significant percentage of its income through sales as well as receiving funding support from a number of sources including a grant from the Transforming Waste Scotland Programme. Future plans include a computer recycling unit at their new Hawick depot and a woodwork training unit based in Walkerburn. For further info’, see



The Ashoka Foundation is the Rolls Royce of the field of social entrepreneurship.  They search the world for top level social entrepreneurs and support them to the tune of $17 million annually – since 1981 1500 fellows in 53 countries.  Bill Drayton, Ashoka founder, has written an inspiring piece in which he asserts that deep conviction is the source of an entrepreneur’s power.  He cites Rodrigo Baggio who has set up 200 self managed computer schools in the urban slums of 17 Brazilian states.  ‘When Rodrigo sat across the table from these powerful and much older officials, they were confronting not just confidence in a right idea, but deeply rooted and life defining values – a faith.  I believe that his values rooted faith is the ultimate power of a first class entrepreneur.  It is a quality and a force that others can sense– a quiet inner voice tells them that they can and should trust Rodrigo’  



Senscot subscribes to Resurgence magazine – edited by Satish Kumar – ‘the sage of the deep ecology movement.’  This month we received a book by Satish Kumar– choc full of great quotations – like opening a box of delicious Belgian chocolates.  A wee sample: T.S. Eliot ‘The only wisdom we can hope to attain is humility. Humility is endless.’ Berthold Brecht ‘Even as a child I felt terror struck when I heard it said that to live an agreeable life you have got to be rich.’ Thic Nhat Hanh ‘We are here to awaken to the illusion of our separateness.’ Seamus Heaney ‘What seems the strongest has outlived its term.  The future lies with what’s affirmed from under.’


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


Best wishes,



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