Senscot Bulletin: 17-02-2006

Dear members and friends,

February is a dirty dog of a month – the month in this country when most people kill themselves.  The first Monday in February is the day when statistically most people take a sickie from work.  Seems that this seasonal gloom is influenced by darkness, and that half a million of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.  SAD is a biochemical imbalance of the hypothalamus due to lack of sunlight.  It causes depression – feelings of fatigue and futility.  Shakespeare wrote ‘How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seems to me all the uses of this world.’  I bet he wrote that in February.
 On Monday I go out to log pile – a dirty morning – low morose sky.  A nervous gust of rain – then its like something moves in my head – suddenly I’m untuned – the melancholy arrives.  Now I can’t get my chores done – dishes pile in the sink – projects lose momentum.  I go to the doctor too much – need to save some cred for future decline – so I manage this winter disorder myself with two primal responses;  Migration and hibernation.  First instinct is to fly south with the geese – paddle on some sunlit shore.  I do this as often as I can.  My other response is hibernation – stoke the fire – coorie doon in bed – eat ice cream – avoid humans.  This is what I’m doing right now.

Peter Hyman was a top policy worker at 10 Downing Street – gave it up to teach in a comprehensive.  Last week he wrote this political comment in The Guardian. ‘If the 80s was about the economy, and the 90s and early noughties about public service reform, then the contested political terrain of the coming years will be about empowerment.  In one corner will be the Tories offering less state control and more voluntary-sector activity.  Labour needs to do far more to make the ‘enabling state’ a reality.  Central government must be more strategic, setting the framework and targets but supporting and trusting people – professionals and consumers – far more.  It needs to give real control to people over their communities.’  Whether our next leader is Brown or Cameron, I believe that Hyman is correct – community empowerment is set to be the next political slogan.  The problem is that the term can mean very different things and community development workers understand that authentic empowerment takes a long time.  Politicians prefer quick to authentic.

The Futurebuilders team at Communities Scotland has produced a comprehensive list of all the awards made, including Seedcorn grants. The document is clearly laid-out. I wish I could say that I can discern a clear pattern – or even underlying themes which informed this selection – but perhaps that’s too much to expect.  At the end of the day making awards is a discretionary process. Just wish there were a couple of social entrepreneurs on the awards panel. ———————————

In the Observer business section this week Simon Caulkin reflects on the global impact of social entrepreneurs based on a chat with Olivier Kayser the European head of Ashoka.  The piece includes Ashoka’s version of the history of the emergence of social entrepreneurs.  Interesting theory.

The long awaited (and much asked about) Social Economy Advisory Group has now been appointed.  They won’t tell us the names till everyone responds – but a date is in the diary for their first meeting.  The group will act as a sounding board for Johann Lamont, who seems to be popular with officials I hope this is not just because she’s easy to ‘handle’.  I thought about how I’d respond if invited to serve on the group – but no invite. I’ve always felt more comfortable outside the tent p*ssing in.

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

JOBS: 49 vacancies, incl. posts with: Routes to Work South, Richmond Cafe Project, Citizen Advocacy Network, CSV Scotland , Project Ability, Shakti Women’s Aid, Sutherland Trust, Four Square (Scotland).

EVENTS: ‘Jobs in a Green Economy: Opportunities and Challenges’, Perth, 24 Feb; East Lothian SEN Meeting, Prestoungrange, 15 March; Regeneration & Renewal National Conference, London, 15 – 16 May.

INTRA-TRADING: 14 social enterprises in our this section sell products, from furniture to promotional films, from soap to carpets. Find out more here:

The Social Enterprise Academy is offering a small Bursary Scheme to help towards the cost of its programmes:

An average of 50 people each month self register for this bulletin, which is encouraging for us.  A glance at the latest 100 shows that the majority work in the public sector – a reflection of the huge public sector work force in Scotland.  We regularly hear of council officials trying to ‘bounce’ social enterprises into their departmental empires.  The Scottish municipal juggernaut ploughs on.  How to convince councils that they should be moving projects out – not in.

The Senscot weekly bulletin is a free service but at the beginning of each year – a few weeks – we invite donations from appreciative readers to fund ‘new work.’  Last year – people donated £4699.  So far 47 people have contributed £2883. Thanks to all who have donated.

Three regeneration events coming up: places are still available on the SCR’s ‘International Perspectives’ masterclass next Thursday (23 Feb),; Community Voices Network’s 1st Annual Conference is in Glasgow, Saturday 4- Sunday 5 March 2006,; SURF’s conference ‘Regeneration – the right stuff’ is in Dundee, 10 March,;

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Glasgow set up in 1980 when 16 Taxi drivers met in a community hall and each deposited £1 to form the Taxi Trade Credit Union. Last year saw the 25th anniversary year of the Glasgow Taxi Trade Credit Union. Over that period almost £18,000,000 has been lent to Glasgow Taxi drivers and their families, with a bad debt ratio of less than 1%. They occupy their own purpose-built premises, employ four members of staff and have 14 volunteer Board of Directors. For further info’, see

When I think of my past it’s usually with regret – so many blunders and missed chances. This is sad so I’m trying to understand and befriend the person I used to be. This poem makes me feel hope: ‘Love After Love’ by Derek Walcott:
‘The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here, eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.’

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

Best wishes,

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