Senscot Bulletin 16-01-2004



Dear members and friends,


I have a powerful recurring urge to forage in skips.  This habit of bringing home useless stuff
was particularly bad when I was on the bevvy. 
Walking home fu’, I couldn’t pass a skip or kerbside junk, without a
rake.  In the morning I’d typically find
a tatty bathroom cabinet with a broken mirror on the kitchen table – lovingly
carried home.

            Haven’t had
a drink now for 114 weeks and I was feeling comfortably distant from it – but I
got a fright over New Year in Spain. 
There were a couple of bleak days – it might have been loneliness – I
got very close to a bottle of brandy. 
In the supermercado I put a litre of Martell VSOP in my trolley – told
myself I’d take it home but not drink it – (Ha).  At the checkout I dumped it – but that night I wanted drink – my
mind played tricks – it was close.  The
very next morning on my walk through posh beachfront housing I came upon a well
dressed woman in her 50s – sobbing beside a skip.  She was drunk at 10am – smelt of sherry – incoherent, confused,
desolate.  Still not clear what we were
looking for – but spent 15 minutes searching the skip – trying to connect to
this woman’s distress.  Incident made me
grateful to be sober – also found four old ceramic tiles which I’ve brought
home.  They’re chipped but a very old
Moorish design.  Hope that poor woman
can get sober – retrieve what she’s lost.



Piece in Regeneration magazine today says that our Social
Economy Action Plan won’t surface until March (
It really is most discouraging – the continual delays.  This plan was written in September – but is
becalmed – unable to attract ministerial attention alongside ‘flagship’
legislation – like the ‘harassment of teenagers’ bill.  I expressed exasperation sometime ago about
the tortuous process.  The civil service
reply was fair enough, “The Executive sits at the centre of a very large
web.  There are significant numbers of
stakeholders and lobbyists, each of whom fervently believes that their vision
of the world and theirs alone, is the only one worth pursuing.  We need to hear all those voices, seek out
the common ground and try to reconcile differences.”

I greatly respect the creative building of consensus which is the essence of
good governance – the skill of our civil service.  But when I think of how the bureaucracy of the SIP programmes has
neutered community initiative all across Scotland – I worry that our new Social
Economy Team is embedded in a culture which is too safe – the antithesis of



I consider Jack McConnell to be a ‘surefooted’ politician –
good political judgement.  But he’s made
a mistake with his ‘populist’ anti-social behaviour bill – I believe it will
come back and break his windows.  My
several friends who work with young people are against it.  This from a Herald editorial last week:            “Keith Simpson, a senior Sacro
official, probably crystallised the concerns most effectively in evidence to
the committee earlier this week.  He
said the proposals failed to make a distinction between criminal behaviour that
was anti-social (and should be dealt with by existing criminal law) and
anti-social behaviour that was not criminal (and should be tackled by measures
other than the law).  Many who work with
young people believe that, by muddying the water between the two, the proposals
would be counterproductive if implemented.” 



Last week we announced that the DTI intends to merge the
Social Enterprise Unit with the Small Business Service. The debate is still
hot, and we’ve updated last week’s link with further contributions:
On the 8th January the (English) Small Business Service launched its
new Action Plan, which refers to social enterprise as follows: ‘The social
enterprise sector is likely to be significantly larger, more diverse and more
innovative than realised. Further research is in train to establish its
strength and contribution to the economy and regeneration. […] The government
is encouraging greater understanding of the role of social enterprise in
economic regeneration and as an alternative business model, and taking specific
actions to help social enterprises to become more successful businesses.’
Where is the (Scottish) Business Gateway with regard to this?



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: 43 vacancies, including posts at SCVO, North Glasgow
Community Food Initiative, Voluntary Action Orkney, Edinburgh Youth SIP,
Gorbals Youth Cafe, PATH (Scotland), Watch Us Grow.


EVENTS: CHE Lectures: Business & Sustainability;
Corporate Accountability and Environmental Justice, Edinburgh, Jan-Feb; EQUAL
networking event, ‘Social Return on Investment’, Glasgow, 18 Feb; ‘Deepening
Democracy’, free workshop, Edinburgh, 18-20 Feb; GCVS training courses;
Festival Of Middle Eastern Spirituality And Peace, Edinburgh, 27 Feb – 7 March,
Glasgow, March-May.


For details on these and more:


NEWS: For the latest social enterprise news stories, see



There’s still almost £1m remaining in the ‘Direct Grants’
fund for projects supporting encouraging community participation and
contributing to social regeneration. Grants of up to £15,000.  Projects need to be spent and all activity
completed by September 2004.  See:


The EQUAL Strengthening the Social Economy Development
Partnership now has an online monthly bulletin. No.1 is available here.



This week’s bulletin profiles the work of one of Scotland’s
more remote communities and its efforts to sustain itself. In 1993, the Glenuig
Community Association (GCA), in west Lochaber, was set up. It has been
responsible for several initiatives in the area, including the renovation of
the pier at Port na Luinge and other environmental improvements in Samalaman
Bay. The Association is currently looking into the future of the Village Shop,
hoping to build new premises and re-open the shop to be run as a Community
Enterprise. Perhaps, GCA’s most significant achievement to date has been the
magnificent Glenuig Hall. Through determined fundraising, the local community built
the Hall, which is now owned and managed by the GCA. For further info’, see



Last month we reported on a pilot toolkit by the New
Economics Foundation for measuring the social value of investments – Social
Return on Investment (SROI). The pilot research on this is now available, and
David Aeron-Thomas, one of the authors, is speaking at an Equal Funding event
on the subject in Glasgow on 18 February. Details at



The snippet from Ronnie Laing last week attracted some
interest, so we’ve posted the link to the whole piece.



Charles Handy gave a talk to the RSA in November 1996
called, “What’s it all for? Reinventing capitalism for the next century”.  This is a passage from that talk,

is the most powerful mechanism we’ve yet invented for delivering the goods but
I don’t think it’s necessarily capable of delivering a good life for all – or a
decent society.  I don’t think we should
expect it to.  It is a means and not an
end and there’s a danger in promoting it as an ideology which is sufficient
unto itself.  That is a category error.  It amounts to saying that the means can
justify the ends, whatever they may be. 
In other words, competition, efficiency, the market place,
profitability, must always be good, whatever comes out at the end.  I’m saying ‘No’.  We have to think about the ends we desire as well as the
means.  If that means moderating the
means, well, so be it.  Effectiveness
may be more important than efficiency.” (Full article:

            The patron
saint of capitalism, Adam Smith, understood this,

“A profitable speculation is presented as a public good
because growth will stimulate demand and everywhere diffuse comfort and
improvement… But the nature of this growth, is that it is at once undirected
and infinitely self-generating in the endless demand for all the useless things
in the world.”


Let’s make this a great year.  Good luck with your adventures.

Best wishes,



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