Senscot Bulletin: 15-06-2007

Dear members and friends,

I wake this morning to the sound of a ship’s foghorn – fog hanging on the trees like a Sherlock Holmes film. It’s midsummer next week and I’ve still got my central heating on. For weeks the east coast has been shrouded in this gloom – it’s getting me down – Seasonal Affective Disorder in June! What chance have we got? Now I’ve got toothache – and my computer’s on the blink – and I’m behind with everything – writing, housework, garden. A furious impotence grips me.
 A Council workman, from the graveyard opposite, chaps my door. “An old lady has fallen – any blankets mate?” Hurry across – “My name’s Marion – I’ve put my hip out – sometimes it goes back in – but I’m stuck.” Marion is between 70/80 years old – in serious pain – a very courageous lady. The two landscape gardeners excel themselves ‘attending’ her – cheerful banter – making her comfy – looking after her dogs. When the ambulance comes, two young women paramedics take control – compassionate – professional. Everyone behaves really well but the star is the ‘auld yin’. Real dignity – calm – smeddum.
 If there is a purpose to this life – there must be a purpose for old age. Maybe it’s simply to accept dependence – learn humility – equanimity – to move beyond the ego’s idea that we are something special. To understand that we are just one thing among many – is to become free. I sense Marion is well down this road – where I’d like to go.

The word on the street is that the new SNP administration is positive about social enterprise and is minded to support it through business rather than third sector mechanisms. Senscot has been involved in some of the consultations about the ‘shape of things to come’. These seem to focus on three challenges. First, how to stimulate and support new entrants to our sector. Second, to ensure good quality pre-Business Gateway support is available to anyone who wants it – irrespective of where they are located.  And third, to ensure that investment opportunities are available to social enterprises which want to grow – including patient capital. Within the next few weeks, EKOS, Rocket Science and TERU will produce reports that will offer some possible options in these areas. As far as we’re aware, John Swinney hasn’t yet made any detailed statement on his social enterprise thinking – he may choose to do so at Senscot’s AGM on 27th June when he has agreed to speak. Here is the programme:  If you’d like to come along, there are still some spare places. Contact

Last weekend 170 people gathered at the Crichton Campus in Dumfries for the 4th DTAS Conference.
Within a packed programme of presentations from development trusts, the Conference also heard from Willy Roe, Chair of Highland and Islands Enterprise. Willy spoke of the integral role communities have played in regenerating the Highlands. This success has seen a growth in population, 138 land buyouts, over 100 development trusts established and over 300 renewable energy projects supported. He offered a suggestion that the development trust movement and housing associations should work more closely together as a means of replicating, across lowland Scotland, this successful resurgence of local economies. He stated that, in his experience, communities made ‘wise and sensible’ decisions. It was time to trust them.

It’s never been clear why the Scottish Parliament decided in 2005 to stop funding the Scottish Civic Forum. For healthy democracy, it is not appropriate that government is the only initiator of debate and consultation – the realm of the citizen is distinct from government. We also hear that the excellent periodical, View, which focussed on policy around Scottish civil society, is under threat from lack of funding. A government committed to active democracy will find a way of resourcing an independent citizen sector. A petition has been lodged with the Scottish Parliament raising this very issue. 

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 

JOBS: 27 vacancies, incl. posts with: Space Unlimited, BabyGROE, Changeworks, Scottish Native Woods, Scottish Executive, Bethany Christian Trust, New Economics Foundation 

EVENTS: 8 events, incl. Learning Festival for Disabled People, Glasgow, 22 June; The Journey of a social innovator, Mukti Mitchell, Edinburgh, June 23; SME recycling collections seminar, Stirling, 27 June.

Social Firms UK 2007 conference, 3/4 July, will be of interest to those developing or thinking of developing a Social Firm, balancing business and worker needs: More: or call 01737 764021

Good piece in the Guardian recently by Patrick Diamond, which tries to capture the spirit of the new government reform which England is moving towards. “The relationship between the citizen and the state must be recast to share and spread power – a radical settlement which opens up services to mutual forms of ownership and engagement,” The renewal of the public realm in Scotland will be more difficult – our citizen sector has been suffocated.

Yesterday, Thursday, 50 people attended the 2nd Argyll and Bute Social Enterprise Conference in Tarbert. The local Social Enterprise Network (ABSEN) introduced their new training and development officer (Mike Geraghty and launched a new website. We also hear from Fife that Subliminal Directions has been nominated for the New Statesman New Media Awards 2007 for Education. We wish them the best of luck.

Kinghorn Community Land Association (KCLA), in Fife, has successfully registered an interest in the right to buy nineteen plots of land surrounding and including Kinghorn Loch. This is the single largest registration of land made by a community body under the 2003 Land Reform Act Following the frustrations encountered last year by the communities of Holmhill and Seton Fields, the Executive is now committed to reviewing the Land Act this year. This review will, in particular, address the complexity of the Act, its operational limitations and the low number of communities registering interest. These and other related matters will be covered, in his forthcoming talk, by Andy Wightman, the intrepid land reform warrior. Andy will speak at St Stephens Centre, St Stephens Street, Edinburgh on Wednesday 27 June at 19:30.

This week’s bulletin profiles an enterprise franchise being operated by young people. The Saffron Café is being pioneered in James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh. The proceeds of the enterprise go to a link school elsewhere in the world (in this case, South Africa). Such has been the success of the Saffron Café that a second café is opening within the Edinburgh Judo Club and discussions are ongoing with another Hugh School in the city. Future links are being explored with Cafedirect and Gaggia UK has indicated it would be keen to support the franchise. For further info’,

In 1982 I bought a book called ‘Zen mind, Beginner’s mind’ by Shunryu Suzuki which I’ve used ever since – yellowing now – still a favourite. Its simple message is that a peaceful and intelligent mind can be attained through simply sitting and breathing.
“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”
“In the beginner’s mind there is no thought, ‘I have attained something.’ All self-centred thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thoughts of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something.”

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

Best wishes.

To receive this bulletin directly, you can sign up here:
Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available See: