Senscot Bulletin: 16.01.15

Dear members and friends,
              Reading again Hemingway’s ‘A Movable Feast’ – a memoir of his younger years in Paris (1921-26) with his new wife, Hadley – learning the writing craft. Although drawn from early notebooks – it was written near the end – when depression and alcoholism dominated his life. The result is an uneven mixture – of young, lyrical optimism – and old man bitterness; the book still works for me – and reveals more about Hem than anything else he wrote.
            Woven through the entire narrative is the teeming Café life of Paris – which Hem obviously loved – those magical names: La Closerie des Lilas, Le Dome, La Rotonde, Les Deux Magots etc. I completely ‘get’ that lifestyle; if I could turn the clock back – it would be to that time and place; working by day – evenings in those great cafes with friends – writers and artists. One of my favourite Hem short stories is ‘a clean, well lighted place’ – which is a kind of homage to the importance of the well-run café as a social institution. I share this appreciation; over the years – so many fond remembered hostelries – each for the gathering of particular groups of friends.
            My own family ran a café in Edinburgh from the early 1920s; I left school to work there – but I was unhappy – escaped as soon as I could. Occasionally, I wonder how my life would have worked out if I had enjoyed our family trade – built a successful business. I went on to find work that I love – and that is as good as it gets; but I still wonder…
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Paris was very much in our thoughts this week – outrage at the brutal slaying of 17 people by Muslim fundamentalists; sorrow for the bereaved; defiance and solidarity on the streets; ‘je suis charlie’. But after a few days – the crude polarisation: we are civilised – they are barbarians – doesn’t get us very far. I spent time on the Al Jazeera site – for a deeper understanding of how we got here. There is obviously no attempt to justify the killings – but I have come to understand better how we are all bound up in the causes and context of these outrageous events. Links are made to colonisation; generations of hypocrisy, violence and greed. There is a powerful and unaccountable elite whom it suits to promote war with Islam.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about our creaking NHS – how a partnership with the third sector could mobilise thousands of volunteers into social care support services – reducing admissions and enabling people to return home. In England – at the highest level – talks are taking place to advance these proposals with some urgency – see, Scotland can consider itself a bit ahead of the curve – with Health Boards and Local Authorities having put in place integrated governance arrangements all across the country for health and social care. The third sector is well represented in these partnerships. This paper explains things. See,  
Nationalist MSP Joan McAlpine – also a Daily Record columnist – wrote an extraordinary diatribe this week against empowering local councils. There’s a centralising element in the SNP – and we need to gauge its influence. Stephen Daisley responds. See,
Good Article today in The National on Airdrie Savings Bank and SCRT’s Anchor Savings Account. See, PS – it’s not just for folk who voted ‘Yes’!
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Ullapool Community Trust, Cyrenian Trust, Article 12 in Scotland, Voluntary Action Fund, RAMH, Larder Cook School, Midlothian Financial Inclusion Network, GMAC Film, Touring Network,        EVENTS: Meet a Mentor Event for Women, 29 Jan; Leading Growth for Aspiring Leaders, 4 Feb; Media Training, 4 Feb; Pre-Start Leadership. 5 Feb; Social Enterprise Insights, 12 Feb;
TENDERS: Fund Administrator, Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company; The Plock of Kyle Interpretation and Design, Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust; Briggait Phase 2 Integrated Design Team, The Wasps Trust; and more.   
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: There is no doubt that 2015 will be another busy year for SENs and their members. This week saw the first SEN Co-ordinators meeting of the year. As well as sharing their experiences/challenges/opportunities etc, it is also a chance to discuss other issues or trends of wider concern. The subject of ‘failure’ raised its head again – with a couple of SEN members closing their doors over recent weeks. Another trend that has emerged is a number of SE’s choosing to set up as private organisations instead? We`ll be looking at these in more depth in the year ahead – as well as further development of thematic SEs at a local level; trade fairs; business to business events and more.
For more SENs News, see
Amongst Scotland’s growing SE community, The Factory Skatepark in Dundee has been one of the real success stories. This week they had more good news to report. With support from SIS, they have been able to purchase one of the city’s other major play centres and, at the same, ensure the retention of the existing 11 staff. See,
Householders in the Outer Hebrides pay more for energy than the rest of Scotland; they also suffer the UK’s highest level of fuel poverty. The Scottish government has provided development funding for the new ‘Outer Hebrides Energy Supply Company’ – which Community Energy Scotland is helping the Council establish as a stand-alone agency. In the longer term, this new company aspires to become a licensed supplier in its own right; in the meantime it will negotiate with the ‘big six’ – for a better Hebridean tariff. In my view public utilities should be operated as social enterprises for public benefit. See,
Last year, Scottish Govt commissioned The Melting Pot to carry out research into creating a culture that supports social innovation in Scotland. Their report – ‘How can we put social innovation to work for the people of Scotland? A collaborative enquiry’ is now complete. Here’s an opinion piece from Claire Carpenter of The Melting Pot – that incudes their report
Andy Wightman, Scotland’s intrepid land reform campaigner, has posted this piece about the Kildrummy estate in Aberdeenshire; it illustrates how difficult it can be to find out ‘who owns Scotland’ – how urgently legislation is needed to enforce full disclosure. See,
The late Margot Macdonald’s bill to legalise assisted suicide, has returned to the consideration of the Scottish Parliament. In spite of the obvious dangers – and with many caveats – I find myself in support of this measure; but there is highly organised resistance. This is understandably a very difficult issue for some people to think about, let alone legislate, but this issue is not going to go away.  See,
This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Glasgow providing specialised information technology training in the field of computer networking to vulnerable young individuals within Glasgow’s black ethnic minority (BME) community.Networks4learning supports this work through designing and supplying affordable and innovative computer network infrastructure solutions to learning institutions in Africa. Networks4learning’s approach is learner centric, informal and tailored to meet beneficiaries’ unique learning styles. They also provide training materials as well as networking lab equipment.Networks4learning has also been supported by Firstport. For more, see
This excellent understanding of empowerment is a quote from Alison Elliot – chair of the Land Reform Review Group. I would add only that the empowerment process is significantly advanced where communities evolve a unifying anchor organisation.


"The classic kind of empowered community is one that is confident, resilient, energetic and independent. It is well networked. It has a high degree of social capital. It is confident enough to imagine a better future for itself, and is in a position to take control of that future. It has the breadth of vision to be able to enlist others and other agencies in helping it to deliver its ambitions. By contrast, a disempowered community is one which is dependent on people external to itself to address its needs and whose future is directed by others."   


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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