Senscot Bulletin: 17.12.10

Dear members and friends,

 As I get older, I become more appreciative of Scotland’s changeable weather and seasonal variations.  Andalucía may enjoy 300 plus days of annual sunshine – but it doesn’t get much else.  I would miss the vigour and drama of ‘real’ weather – the impact of raw elements – the constant shifting of light – between wind and rain and sun; sometimes all in one day.  I even enjoyed the recent white-out – except that it’s gone on too long – and now our hamlet is left with a layer of compacted ice – treacherous underfoot.
 There are only four other households at our bit – three of which have dogs.  Relationships are cordial, but Robin has an elderly black Labrador which he allows out, to deposit its ‘business’ wherever.  A while ago, I braced myself to confront him about this, and though he took it well, the ‘poop scoop’ issue has not gone away – an uneasiness between us.  On Tuesday – right outside my front door – my feet go from under me and I land flat on my back – whack.  I lie for a bit – dazed – assessing the damage – and then Robin is kneeling beside me – concerned- saying he saw me go down – asking if I feel any pain.  He couldn’t have been kinder, gentler – turns out to be a lovely guy – so now we’re pals – flash warm smiles across the green.
 This is the final Senscot bulletin till after the new year – so be careful out there – especially if you’re going to be around your family (just joking).  Have a great holiday – and please be kind to any OAP’s you see down on the ice.

Given its avowed belief in independence, the SNP administration’s lukewarm commitment to community empowerment has been disappointing.  They missed an opportunity to upstage the Scottish Labour Party which remains stuck in municipalist dogma and simply won’t budge.  But Nicola Sturgeon (who one senses is at the heart of SNP policy development) made an important speech last week in which she said that supporting local people to improve their communities – "is a theme that will resonate throughout the SNP’s programme for a second term in govt".  If she really means this, she will instruct officials to prepare an action plan for the development of Scotland’s Community Sector – for so long the poor relation in our world.

In 1970, I trained as a community worker at Moray House – spent 30 years working in Scotland’s housing estates – loved it.  It saddens me that the profession, I was proud to belong to, allowed itself to be co-opted by the state – and lost its sense of what it’s for.  This displacement is evidenced by yet another ‘review’ from the English Community Development Foundation – wondering where to go next.  Their document calls for another review (I’m not kidding!).  Community work needs to lose its academic associations – get back to its roots – alongside local people – challenging the state.

Sturgeon in her speech made specific reference to the benefits of passing under used public assets to community ownership.  There is not enough understanding that this is only possible where there is a community owned organisation with the confidence and competence to manage such assets.  Specifically this week, Margo MacDonald has raised this issue in relation to Dalry baths in Edinburgh which the Council wants to close.  This is what LPL and Senscot have been banging on about for years – the single most important determinant of empowerment for a community is the existence of an anchor organisation – a Development Trust or Housing Association or whatever – locally owned – capable of ‘doing the business’.

I went along to the Big Lottery seminar at Atlantic Quay yesterday – a briefing about the new Jessica programme.  Consortia have only got till 31st Jan to choose partners and submit their vision. It’ll be interesting to see who links up with whom.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Outside the Box Development Support, GIFT, The Knoydart Community, Equal Say, The Big Issue in Scotland, Rosemount Lifelong Learning, Forth Environment Link, Young Peoples Futures
EVENTS: Burns Supper, 15 Jan; Tender writing training, 30 Jan; Whose Economy? the third in a series of four seminars, 17 Feb; Climate Change Effective Communication, 17 Feb;
TENDERS: Supply of Electrical Equipment and Consumables, Production and Distribution of Fifelife, Short Break and Respite Services for Adults – Bearsden, UK-Hamilton: floor coverings

NETWORKS 1st: We’ve been banging on a lot lately about the importance of SENs being able to get involved in local Single Interfaces (SIs). Unfortunately, this is going to be the case for longer than we hoped. Stories from around the country reflect huge inconsistencies in approach. In Glasgow, the Borders and Edinburgh, local SENs have been actively engaged in the process. By contrast, in the likes of Aberdeen, the local CVS feels that it has all the necessary skills and knowledge to support ‘social enterprise development’ locally. Senscot’s campaign for full engagement of SENs in local Interfaces and, where they do not exist, local social enterprise practitioners, will pick up pace in the New Year. In the meantime, Scottish Govt’s announcement of funding to Interfaces has been put back till January – here’s a letter circulated by VAS last week. There’s still a chance to get you views heard.  For more Networks News, see

Senscot Board member, Les Huckfield, has prepared a note setting out his personal observations about Scottish Govt’s consultation document "Securing the benefits of Scotland’s next energy revolution". Local energy generation can be an outstanding opportunity for communities to achieve some financial self-sufficiency. But is that what Govt really intends?

Triodos Bank, together with the English Social Enterprise Coalition and Social Enterprise Magazine, runs an annual photography competition to capture the work of social enterprise across the UK. See, The winning photographs feature in its Social Vision calendar. Overall winner was Fordhall Community Land Initiative (West Midlands), with Creative SEN member, Out of the Blue (October), winning the Scottish round. If you’d like a 2011 calendar, contact

For many organisations in the third sector, the pensions’ scene is, at best, unclear and, for many, a worry. Scottish Govt has put together a very helpful guide, giving third sector orgs (and their staff) some pointers on where to go for help or advice. See,

I’m following the debate around Eric Pickles Localism Bill in England – lots of new ‘powers’ for communities – most already trailed by Hazel Blears in 2009. Guardian columnist, Simon Jenkins, claims that it’s all political guff – without a new elected tier of democracy nearer citizens, as they have in Europe.  I don’t go as far as Jenkins – but nearly.

This week’s bulletin profiles a sports-based community enterprise based in Clydebank. The Antonine Sports Centre has been on the go for over 25 years and provides a wide range of facilities, classes and activities to cater for everyone, young and old. Currently on their agenda is the exploration of installing solar heating panels as well as a starting up their own nursery which will also operate as a social enterprise. For more, see

I’m enjoying the late Tony Judt’s book – "Ill Fares the Land".  He took the title from an Oliver Goldsmith quote: "Ill fares the land – to hastening ills a prey – where wealth accumulates – and men decay".  The following paragraph is the opening one of the book – sets out his stall:
 "Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today.  For thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest: indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose.  We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth.  We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world?  Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers.  We must learn once again to pose them."

That’s all for this year – we’re closing from Wed 22nd Dec till Wed 5th Jan. From everyone here at Senscot to our many friends out there – have a great festive break.

Best wishes,


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