Senscot Bulletin: 19.06.09

Dear members and friends,

One of my favourite books, over many years, is Ernest Hemingway’s `A Moveable Feast` – a volume of reminiscences of his life in Paris in the 1920s when he was learning his craft. Late in his life, Hemingway found some forgotten notebooks from the Paris years which he painstakingly reworked. The pieces are deeply personal – the work of an unstable, alcohol diminished 60 year old – poignantly revisiting the optimism of his 20 year old self. Paris symbolises the lost innocence of Hemingway’s youth – when poor and happy, he embarked on his life’s great passion – to write. And some of this early writing is an absolute joy – the exuberance of youth let loose in that most romantic of cities – told in a prose so simple, life accepting and immediate. But as always with Hemingway’s work – even when it celebrates joy – it is touched by a melancholy (which I find irresistible). This is the book’s final paragraph, “There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”

37,000 18-24 year old Scots now get Jobseekers allowance – a 72% rise from last year. We’ve been told to expect a deteriorating economy for some time to come so we need to agree our priorities – plan action. Probably only those who have been unemployed fully understand the damage it causes to our sense of confidence and self worth. For a young person who may not yet have mastered a skill – this will be worse. The Third Sector specialises in meaningful work. If we can introduce some of these youngsters to what we do, it will pay long term dividends.

The Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) was only ever set up to transfer Glasgow Council’s housing stock to around 50 community-owned Housing Associations but it’s the old story –  no-one easily gives up power.  The management went rogue – tried to make GHA into a permanent empire.  By over-reaching themselves they have angered Glasgow Council and Scottish Government who now seem determined to rein them in.  In the mess which is about to follow, let’s hope we don’t lose sight of the original objective – to get the housing into community ownership.  Glasgow Council mustn’t be allowed to get it back.

Barack Obama, who has been a front line community worker, has made it clear that he intends to invest heavily in social entrepreneurship- there is a talk of a billion dollar programme.  One of his economic advisers, Larry Summers has said “It is hard in this world to do well.  It is hard to do good.  When I hear a claim that an institution is going to do both, I head for my wallet. You should too”.  Obviously Larry is a non believer, but this short piece by Chip Feiss, a Harvard academic asserts that the social enterprise movement is gaining momentum. See more, 

I feel very enthusiastic about the potential benefits of introducing social enterprise to prisons – as a way of equipping inmates for life outside.  Understaffing and the inflexibility of regulations will make this a tough nut to crack. Is anyone in Scotland working towards this? Good article about a marvellous prison restaurant called the Clink.

Yesterday, I spoke at an EDAS event in Edinburgh – `A Fairer Road to Recovery`. Here`s my speech.

This year is Senscot’s 10th birthday and we’ve nominated 24th September as our day of celebration – still considering options for an event. We’re asking our members, friends and supporters to write a 250 word personal impression (the length of bulletin intros) of what Senscot has been – what it could become.  Perhaps we could publish a wee booklet.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 
JOBS: incl. posts with Glasgow East Regeneration Agency, Station House Media Unit, Sidekix, Moore House Care & Education, JMT Care Services, NHS 24, Scottish Churches Housing Action, Angus Mental Health Association (AMHA), CSL Training, Evaluation and Development, Aberdeen Foyer
EVENTS: Women Make History West End Map Launch, Glasgow Women’s Library, 21 Jun; Dealing with Conflict, CSL Training, Evaluation and Development, 22 Jun; East Lothian Artists/Therapy in Art, The Accessible Art Company, 7 Jul;

NETWORKS NEWS: Colin writes: Yesterday, Senscot participated in a `Sport and Social Enterprise Event` at Airth Castle near Alloa. Over 50 people attended to hear presentations from the likes of Mel Young (Homeless World Cup), Stewart Harris (Sports Scotland), Craig Campbell (SIS) as well as locally based sports social enterprises such as Transition Extreme (Aberdeen) and Atlantis Leisure (Oban). One immediate outcome of the event has been the re-forming of the Sports Social Enterprise Network – first meeting at Spartans FC new complex at end of August. For more Networks News, see

On the back of receiving an award from the Scottish Investment Fund, Re-Union has also announced its purchase of another business based around the canal network – Capercaillie Cruisers Ltd. This marks a significant expansion of Re-Union’s activities, (another 16 boats), as well as an interesting growth option for social enterprises buying family-owned businesses as owners retire. For more, see

Further pieces of the Govt`s Third Sector Action Plan are falling into place. Firstly, free mentoring support is available through Realise Mentoring – a consortium of Chambers of Commerce, SCVO, Edinburgh Business Development and Forth Sector Development. See
Secondly, a new initiative to create 10 Public-Social Partnerships (PSPs) is announced – involving social enterprises and other Third Sector orgs. See details,

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise based in Dumfries and Galloway but with plans to extend its services across Scotland. The Food Train has been on the go since 1995 and provides a low-cost grocery shopping delivery service to older, housebound and disabled people in the area. With the appointment of a National Development Officer, they are looking to identify areas in need to launch further branches of The Food Train. For more, see

The vision of E.F. Schumacher continues in the many institutions which his work inspired. He began his book `A Guide for the Perplexed` with this anecdote; “On a visit to Leningrad some years ago, I consulted a map to find out where I was, but I could not make it out. From where I stood, I could see several enormous churches, yet there was no trace of them on my map. When finally an interpreter came to help me, he said: “We don’t show churches on our maps.” Contradicting him, I pointed to one that was very clearly marked. “That is a museum,” he said, “not what we call a `living church, it is only the `living churches` we don’t show.” It then occurred to me that this was not the first time I had been given a map which failed to show many things I could see right in front of my eyes.”

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

Best wishes,

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