Senscot Bulletin 15-10-2004



Dear members and friends,


Hardly a speeding ticket in 45 years – now 2 in the past month. I’ve hit  a bad patch. Forgetting and mis-spelling simple words – misdialling the phone – dropping and bumping into things. I feel untuned. Last week the dysfunction spread outwards. Internet won’t connect – ran out of heating oil (gauge broken). TV picture has shrunk to a wee square. These internal and external events are jumbled in a kind of rage – against decline. I’ve temporarily ‘lost it’. I’m down.

Some friends say it’s biorhythms – and that just as we can affect the morale of our plants, so our machines respond to our good/bad vibrations. I don’t believe this – though I’ll never forget the image of Basil Fawlty thrashing his car with a branch for misbehaving.

            Some time ago – in a crowded wine bar – introduced to a striking-looking woman – someone says, “Jo is a witch.” I smile quizzically, but Jo takes herself seriously and I rise to the bait. “Some people attribute magic to anything they don’t understand – I don’t believe in magic.” She holds my gaze – we face each other in silence. Suddenly my watch ‘pings’ off my wrist. This has never happened before. When I pick it up it has stopped. Don’t know how – or if – she did this trick. I’ve always assumed Uri Gellar is a phoney. But I fled – vanquished by a witch.



Those of us who earn our living from promoting and developing social enterprise in Scotland need to be aware of changing markets. Futurebuilders will bring a welcome £18m into the sector, but this will probably involve less than 100 enterprises. More dramatic will be the impact of the Housing Associations’ Wider Action programme and the Health Trusts’ Healthy Living programmes, which are gathering momentum. We can also anticipate that the rapid spread of development trusts will accelerate the acquisition by communities of property and other assets. These new activities will require new types of development support – less generalist (these new markets know what they want to do) but requiring more specialist services.



There is a book doing the rounds now called ‘The Tipping Point’, by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s about the social dynamics of rapid change – how ideas, trends, cross a threshold and spread like wildfire. Carol Craig, the thinker, writer and activist on the subject of Confidence and Well-being in Scotland, has taken this theme for a conference she is organising.  



Last week, DTA Scotland held its first full Board Meeting following the inaugural AGM held during its annual conference in August. The new Board has 12 directors, drawn from a membership which now runs the length and breadth of the country.  The development trust movement – community based, community led regeneration organisations – is steadily building momentum and membership has grown to 48 with many more communities interested in joining. For more about the development trust movement in Scotland, contact Director Angus Hardie,, or see  



Around 20,000 campaigners will assemble this weekend in London at the European gathering of the Social Forum, the most representative forum for social justice in the world. One of the speakers is Aleida, daughter of Ernesto Che Guevara – she wrote a piece in Wednesday’s Guardian which captures what this weekend is about. (



This week’s Regeneration magazine carries an article from Norma Hurley who argues that we need to talk about employability in relation to the whole workforce, not just those seeking work  – and that a new single agency should be created in Scotland to develop a national strategy for employability, skills and lifelong learning. It makes a lot of sense. (



YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice you send. But please send in any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:


JOBS: 38 vacancies, incl. posts with: 3 posts at Communities Scotland, Enable, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Community Help and Advice Initiative, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council.


EVENTS: Developing Social Enterprise, 21 Oct; Golden Bear Trust annual fundraising Ceilidh, Edinburgh, 23 Oct; CHE, Facilitation Skills Course, Linlithgow, 29-31 Oct; Prem Kumar, Friday October 15, 5pm -Edinburgh-based Ecademists at a Starbucks cafe within a Waterstone bookshop (Edinburgh’s West End); Social Enterprise Coalition, 1st UK conference for social enterprise. 25 Jan 2005, Manchester.


SURF Conference, ‘Leadership and Community Planning’, Monday 1st Nov, Dundee. Five free places are available, courtesy Blake Stevenson. Contact Andy Milne:


There has been talk over the last twelve months about creating a national social enterprise in Scotland but with little success. This could be changing with a proposal from Brian Tannerhill (McSence) that is generating a lot of interest in the sector. If you’d like to know more contact (LINK ALLISON E-MAIL 4/10/04)



One of the five winners of the recent Guardian Charity awards was Food Train – a highly successful Dumfries organisation which does the shopping for 300 immobile customers across the remote rolling south west of Scotland. If you want a lift, read this story:  



Rowena Young, director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship has a piece in Society Guardian which sets a brave vision. “Social enterprise is more than a delivery mechanism for public services or a better way of exercising charity. It contains a new way of life, a new way of organising our society and economy.” This expresses what Senscot tries to proclaim  



This week’s bulletin profiles a London based organisation, In Kind Direct, which acts as a clearing house for a wide range of primarily new surplus goods from industry and distributes them to charities, social economy organisations and social enterprises in the UK. In Kind Direct has a number of Scottish ‘Ambassadors’ including Kibble Education and Care Centre in Paisley and seven CVSs in the Fair Share areas. The Ambassadors promote free first year registration for not-for-profit organisations in the Fair Share areas thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund. In Kind Direct has almost 250 organisations registered under this scheme in Scotland and is hoping to raise this number to 300. For organisations outside the Fair Share areas, there are a number of subsidised first year registrations available through other funding. In Kind Direct receives 50% of its income from the handling charges for goods and from registration fees. Further info:   



I’m enjoying Sheila Hancock’s book ‘The Two of Us’ about her life with her late husband John Thaw. She writes very honestly about their troubles and tenderly about their love. About the book Sheila says:

“John was an alcoholic – and I didn’t want anyone writing about that but me. When he was drinking he took us to hell and back – but fundamentally he was a very, very nice man – I wanted people to know that. John’s alcoholism was also my problem. It was my demon too. I had a father who was an alcoholic, I had a first husband who was an alcoholic and my second husband, John, was an alcoholic. I was drawn to these men. I loved the drama of it all and I took a kind of masochistic joy in it. Obviously I didn’t want contentment, so it was as much my disease as it was John’s. I want people to recognise that. First, you must sort yourself out, then the alcoholic will follow.” When John Thaw died of cancer in 2002 Sheila says she took comfort from this poem by Edna St Vincent Millay, ‘Time Does Not Bring Relief’:


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

Best wishes,



If you would like to receive this bulletin directly, e-mail

We now have a ‘pay page’ on our site. To give: