Senscot Bulletin: 14.12.12

Dear members and friends,

The Observer Mag runs a column ‘This much I know’ – a celeb sharing personal reflections; this week, singer Susan Boyle tells us: "there is abject poverty in the UK that I feel is hidden – a general unawareness of the struggle that people face every day. Before my ‘big break’ – I lived on £30 a week – which would cover the basics – from the ‘reduced’ section…this is why I am not a big spender; I never again want to feel that gut wrenching panic or misery."
 I’m fortunate to be still in paid employment – can pay the rent – no skimping on food and heat – run a wee car – can go for restaurant meals – occasional trips to the sun. But through my work, I know that Susan Boyle speaks the truth; that a shameful number of children are growing up in need. Sometimes, visiting a freezing cold house – I feel the cruelty – the disgrace of poverty – that we all tolerate it – in our rich country.
 Susan tells us that she still lives in her family’s house in West Lothian (44 years): "I still live here because of my neighbours. They look out for me – protect me – have known me all my life. I wouldn’t move away for anything". We are taught that humankind prospered on earth through our capacity to co-operate – to look out for each other. If the global economy is as precarious as it now seems – our survival may depend on it. See,

One of the bright young politicians making an impression just now – is the SNP’s Derek Mackay, Minister for Local Govt and Regeneration.  He is leading on the Community Empowerment Bill – and told a gathering of the Scottish Community Alliance this week – "The Bill is potentially the biggest transfer of power since devolution, transferring power from central and local Government to Scotland’s communities"  Senscot was present – formed the impression that Mackay both understands and cares about local empowerment.  We believe that his involvement represents a very real opportunity – will do what we can to help frame this legislation. See,

I keep an approving eye on the ResPublica think tank – which is committed to concepts like the common good and social capital; understands that it’s all down to human relationships.  Its latest report outlines how Housing Associations have the potential to step up to the plate – to provide leadership for the flourishing of their communities.  This is very similar to the Anchor Organisation strategy which Senscot and Local People Leading have been promoting for years.  We ‘auld yins’ have observed that social policy is cyclical – it may be that the country is preparing for an outbreak of local democracy. See,

The Robertson Trust has published a welcome report about social investment in Scotland – from the perspective of a potential funder; it makes particular reference to Social Impact Bonds and Public Social Partnerships.  Its Conclusions and Key Learning (less than 2 pages) suggest that they are unimpressed with the hype – are not about to leap in – not until there’s more evaluation – less complexity. See,

The debate about who needs and deserves welfare is inevitably contentious – but it doesn’t need to be shoddy; in response to some of the ‘welfare myths’ being routinely promoted by the right wing press – Red Pepper – the socialist bi monthly mag – has published its ‘mythbuster’. See,

George Monbiot has written a trenchant seasonal piece about Xmas junk: "bake them a cake – write a poem, – give them a kiss – tell them a joke – but for god’s sake, stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care.  All it shows is that you don’t". See,

A book review by William Leith in ‘the Speccie’ this week has set me thinking; it’s called ‘Antifragile’: how to live in a world we don’t understand, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  The thesis seems to be – we can’t control the world – and pretending we can doesn’t help.  The world is non linear – is a stranger place than we want it to be; the only way to bring a measure of control – is to embrace randomness.  Temperamentally, I want this to be true – that the control freaks are not in control. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Transition Extreme, Equal Exchange Trading Ltd, Edinburgh University Students Association, Liber8 (Lanarkshire) Ltd, Promoters arts network (PAN), Lifelink, Children’s Hearings Scotland
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Flea Market, 29 Dec; Engaging Communities on Energy and Climate Change, 31 Jan; Diploma in Training and Development, 28 Feb; Social Enterprise Exchange, 31 Mar

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: As the year ends, we tend to reflect on the developments/ highlights of 2012. Here goes: 21 active SENs – 16 local and 5 thematic (3 new ones in the pipeline); over 450 SEs engaged; 9 SENs constituted; 7 SENs employing staff; progress in engagement with local Interfaces; SEN rep on VAS Board; 5 national Conferences hosted – over 600 attendees; over 90 SEN and Roundtable meetings; and a new collaboration with colleagues in Northern Ireland. There is little doubt that the contribution of local and thematic SENs and their members to policy development both locally and nationally levels continues to grow. Next Thursday is the last Networks 1st bulletin of the year when we’ll include some of our plans and aspirations for 2013. For more Networks News, see

Community Enterprise’s latest venture Run Native – UK’s first social enterprise marketplace – is now live.
See, or

Last week’s piece on updating bulletin profiles has had a good response. If you’d like yours’ updated, please contact and we’ll make sure it replaces the old version. Over the years, we’ve built up an archive of around 570 profiles – probably the most extensive in Scotland. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles Scotland’s newest social enterprise – the Fun Factory in Dundee – which opened last week. The Fun Factory is the Factory Skatepark’s latest venture, this time providing a soft play centre for younger children. The Centre also has a sensory room and café area and can be hired for parties and discos. Over the first fortnight, it has attracted over 1500 customers – and, in doing so, is supporting 18 jobs in the Centre. See more,

I often refer to the late Joseph Campbell’s work on the power of myth.  This comment, from Susan Shaller in an online discussion, captures the universality of mythology in the human unconscious.  If this is your ‘thing’, we link to the site. See,

"Recently, at a meditation retreat, it was pointed out that as we moved closer to the unconscious mind, we moved closer to the universal.  The surface distinctions of culture and personality are more in the conscious mind.  At the unconscious level – where myths are from – we have more in common.  Archetypes and myths are similar all over the globe – they point the way to their source – where we can potentially return – to find ‘the peace that passes understanding’.  As the Tao Te Ching describes: ‘When we realize where we come from, we naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kind-hearted as a grandmother – dignified as a king’."
That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210