Senscot Bulletin: 18-11-2005


Dear members and friends,

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, ‘In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.’ An apt metaphor for times when everyone seems to be whizzing around. It’s the young I feel particularly sorry for – jabbering into mobile phones; addictively texting; jumping from one chat room to another; always on the move in what can only be a frantic search for relationship. But its short-term relationships they want – nothing demanding; and perhaps most worrying of all, the falling birth rate, tells of an underlying unease – that the ice is too thin. We older ones took for granted life long relationships and careers and families. The major institutions in our lives – church membership or the Labour Party etc may have been suffocating – but they were comforting – even to rebel against.
 In Philip Larkin’s poem, ‘Churchgoing’ (one of his best), a cyclist stops to look inside a country church. A bored unbeliever, he fools around at the lectern, but despite himself he is drawn into the church by seriousness in the place which he respects: ‘It please me to stand in silence here.’ In the poem, Larkin assumes that churches will disappear but he acknowledges that they serve a function that is not obsolete. ‘Since someone will forever be surprising a hunger in himself to be more serious, and gravitating with it to this ground….’. In this post Christian era, I ask myself – where will these youngsters take their ‘hunger to be more serious’? Where will I? ( 

One has to admire the capacity of capitalism to continually re-invent itself – to adapt to change. They seem to have all the best think tanks. Where are the left wing thinkers? Maybe it’s no longer relevant to think in terms of left or right. More and more people are just quietly getting on with it – trying to live the changes they’d like to see. In Scotland thousands – in the UK tens of thousands – in Europe hundreds of thousands – in the world millions, of projects and individuals working for social and environmental justice. We can’t ever know them all – but we can connect up – and we can all be connectors. Maybe an explicit overarching philosophy doesn’t matter. It will emerge from a flowering of a million projects.
 Read quote last week from Zygmunt Bauman, the sociologist in his eighties. Asked what his socialism meant to him, he said, ‘The carrying power of a bridge is not the average strength of the pillars, but the strength of the weakest pillar. I have always believed that you do not measure the health of a society by GNP but by the condition of its worst off.’

Davie Bryce, the founder/Director of Calton Athletic, has written his story, and it’ll be no surprise to any who know him that he doesn’t mince his words. The official policy of the Scottish Executive on drug addiction is called ‘harm reduction’ which effectively means that there are approx. 19,000 addicts in Scotland currently parked on methadone. Bryce thinks this is crazy. Calton Athletic’s policy is ‘zero tolerance’. No compromise. If you fall off the wagon, you take a hike. The Scottish Government no longer funds Calton – so they carry on with volunteers. It’s the spirit of folk like Davie Bryce which makes me proud to be Scottish. ‘Alive and Kicking’ by Davie Bryce with Simon Pia, is published by Mainstream. £9.99. (

Yesterday was Social Enterprise Day. It was marked by a number of events in Scotland including the launch of a social enterprise strategy for Edinburgh, and of HISEZ as the first CIC in Scotland. For our part, Senscot is hosting an event and Ceilidh for social enterprise networks in New Lanark today. Also, look out for special social enterprise supplements in the Big Issue and the Observer. Enterprising Solutions gave their national social enterprise award to Greenwich Leisure. Congratulations, in particular, to Kibble for winning the Young Social Enterprise Award for their work with young people. See

NOTICES/EXCHANGE: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice sent but please any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 75 vacancies, incl. posts with: Drumchapel Opportunities, Benarty Cares, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Carluke Development Trust, Albion Trust, Parent Network Scotland (Consultancy brief).

EVENTS: The Snow Queen: A festive play for refugee children in Govan, 22 Nov; Penicuik Arts presents ‘The Little World of Don Camillo, Penicuik, 23 Nov; ‘Learning in Regeneration’ Skills pack launch, Glasgow, 29 Nov; ‘Developing a social enterprise strategy for East Lothian’, Musselburgh, 30 Nov.

SPECIAL OFFER: Interested in being part of an incubator in Edinburgh for progressive initiatives, offering flexible work and meeting space to agents of social change? Visit

Senscot member, Eoghan Howard, writes to tell us of the recent Lending Disclosure Report produced by Fair Finance – a not-for-profit affordable credit provider based in East London. See LINK.
Eoghan also asks if any bulletin subscribers would be interested in the recently established UK Financial Inclusion Forum. Membership is free. For details, see 

Social Enterprise Development Initiative (SEDI) has changed its name to Social Enterprise Edinburgh (SEE). With the strapline  ‘the gateway to social enterprise in the capital’, SEE will continue as a leading provider of the skills and knowledge needed to develop or start-up sustainable social enterprises. For info`, see

Andy Wightman writes to inform us of the publication of the Caledonia Centre’s Report on Common Good Land – a look at surviving common lands and new patterns of community ownership in Scotland.
The Report comes out next Tuesday (22nd Nov.) and will provide an important stimulus to the debate on common land rights. It is expected that the Herald will be covering the Report early next week. The Caledonia Centre is producing a limited run of 500 copies. They also hope to have a freely downloadable pdf version available on their website next Tuesday ( However, they could do with some support towards printing costs. A hard copy – a collector’s item – is available for £10. They are looking to sell 200. For info’, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise launched in Edinburgh this week by Communities Minister, Malcolm Chisholm. Requip IT is a joint venture by Bethany and a supporter, Raj Mair. Requip IT intends to generate income by refurbishing old and unwanted computer equipment donated by individuals and businesses and selling it on to home users, students, small businesses, charities and churches, who may not be able to pay full price for a new equipment. As well as using Bethany’s seven shops in Edinburgh as outlets, Requip IT is also setting up an online shop. For info’, see

John Fowles, who died last week, was one of Britain’s most successful novelists. The final volume of his diaries is to be published in January – here’s a snippet from Oct. 30th 1966.
‘Eliz has been away for 10 days now. I live like a hermit, my closest companion the little chaffinch that roosts under the canopy every night. The weather is very fine, cool but clear; the moon huge each night. It can’t be good for me, I wear filthy clothes, don’t wash, eat bits of food at wrong hours, let the kitchen proliferate into piles of mess and dirty dishes, drift around the fields and let them become parts of me, like the wildlife. Yet this last is a beautiful experience, in itself and because not many generations more will ever know it. Science and overpopulation must swamp nature; of course there will be reserves and naturalists still, but by 2066 no-one will be able to have this strange symbiosis with nature.’

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

Best wishes,