Senscot Bulletin 14-01-2005



Dear members and friends,


Tomorrow I’m off to a place called Arosa in Switzerland – in search of God. Arosa is the venue for the World Spirit Forum which I’m attending. Apparently it’s just over the mountain from Davos where the World Economic Forum happens at the same time – our ‘do’ a kind of counterbalance to materialism?

Not clear why I’m doing this cos I’m not a conference/networking person and I find travel exhausting. I reckon some of the topics for discussion caught my fancy – “What on earth is spirituality?” – “No guru, no method, no teacher” – stuff like that has always interested me. My pilgrim, seeker of truth bit. “and we shall not cease from exploration…etc”. But another bit of me is a cynical auld ‘hoor – this event could be just new age hippies and squabbling academics. Optimism prevails. My hope is that the ambience will be ‘of the spirit’. That I’ll meet some people whose ‘kingdom is not of this world’.

So I’m off in search of God – can’t make my heart young or my soul blank, but I am resolved not to let my Roman Calvinism spoil it. I’ll try to check out what’s on the move out there – report back. Meister Eckhart (13th century monk) said, “Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness”. My journey to Arosa involves a car – two planes – three trains and a coach. Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way.



In 1995, Researchers from Strathclyde University referred to the Wester Hailes Representative Council as “possibly the most sophisticated form of community involvement in the UK”. 12 Neighbourhood Councils and 8 community run agencies each sent a representative to the monthly ‘Rep’ Council meetings. Attendance levels were extraordinarily high. I am proud to be one of the many people over the years who helped create this success story, so I was saddened to read in Tuesday’s Scotsman that the Rep Council is now in danger of closing down – because of funding cutbacks.  It has been clear for some years that the City of Edinburgh Council does not want confident, independent community organisations and has a policy of ‘reigning them in’.

The Leader of the Council and his deputy are perfectly entitled to hold the view that the City’s housing estates should be ‘run’ by the Council – and that central government’s policy to ‘empower’ communities is mistaken. It is a legitimate position – so why don’t they come out and argue it openly? Is it because nationally the debate has been lost – 2007 Council elections will see the end of Labour municipalism. Wester Hailes will certainly rise again with a new Rep Council – less dependent on political patronage.



Billions of pounds lie forgotten in dormant bank accounts in the UK. The current total is thought to be around £15bn. Many banks redirect this money as free reserves and also declare it as profit. During 2005 new EU accounting rules will make this practice illegal and the UK Government is poised to follow the examples of the US and Ireland to sweep the proceeds of dormant accounts into a new fund. What is the best possible way to use this potential new ‘people’s bonanza’? Matthew Pike of the Scarman Trust says, in a new report, that we should use it to tackle head on the single greatest issue of our day – the chronic levels of inequality in contemporary British society. His visionary report proposes a £6bn Community Assets Fund to invest in new routes to equality.



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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: 40 vacancies, incl. posts with: Senscot, Fablevision, Scottish Community Development Centre, Gordon Rural Network,  Community Help and Advice Initiative, Drumchapel Community Forum


EVENTS: Employment Law, half day seminar, 21 Jan, Paisley; UK Social Enterprise Coalition “Social enterprise solutions to 21st century challenges” UK Conference for social enterprise  25th, Manchester, Jan ; SCVO, ‘Employment Law’ half-day training course, Paisley, 27 Jan; Argyll and Bute Enterprise Network meeting, Rothsay, 9 Feb; Sustainable Communities conference, 15 March, Edinburgh.



Senscot has a new post for a research/IT person – salary around £18k – You don’t need to be an expert but a basic understanding and keen interest in the social enterprise sector will be helpful.



The DTI is publishing a series of factsheets to make people more aware of Community Interest Companies – to consider CICs as an option and to register interest in establishing a CIC. Launching the first booklet, minister Jacqui Smith said, “Social Enterprises are a fast growing sector of our society, active in a wide range of areas from childcare and social housing to renewable energy and free trade.



So the McConnells went on holiday to Kirsty Wark’s villa in Mallorca – so what? We are served by such a small-minded, mean-spirited media. Do we reflect them or do they reflect us? Tony Blair went on holiday with Silvio Berlusconi whom everyone says is a crook – dodgy. And remember when President Kennedy was booked to visit Frank Sinatra’s ranch – but cancelled because of Frank’s mob associations. Of course our elected leaders shouldn’t hang out with folk connected to organised crime. But Kirsty Wark! For goodness sake, get a grip.



This week’s bulletin profiles one of the newer members of DTA Scotland, the Cumbrae Community Development Company (CCDC). CCDC is based on a small island in the Firth of Clyde, near Arran. In the 50’s and 60’s, Cumbrae was a hugely popular holiday resort but, like many resorts on the Clyde coast, has been out of fashion for many years. CCDC aims to reverse this decline and its first major project is well underway. It has funding in place for a £4.3 million restoration programme, involving an 18th century building and gardens. When completed it will house a museum, library, health centre, café, and other much needed community facilities. Further info’,



Came across this line: “Most people are not capable of great disappointment.” It made me sad – inferring a withdrawal – a fear of engagement with life/love. Reminded me of a line from Kahil Gibran where he said that fear of love can bring us to “the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all your laughter, and weep, but not all your tears.” Then I found this passage: “You have lost someone who loved you, but who was unable to suffer your inability to return love – and you are aware of the space that this has placed in your life forever – and your heart knows that you could not behave in a different way if you could relive this chance of happiness.” What makes some people fear of the pain of too much tenderness? It makes me sad.


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


Best wishes,



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