Senscot Bulletin: 19.11.10

Dear members and friends,

Got home from hospital last night – sore but relaxed. Operation seemed to go well – still a bit groggy – will elaborate next week.
Ambling around the antiques warehouse near Callander, I see the following inscription on a wooden plaque. "The three essentials for happiness are: someone to love – something to do – something to look forward to." For several days this message keeps popping into my mind – so I decide to measure myself against it – my happiness potential.
For ‘someone to love’, I would have preferred to find a life companion – but I never did – I live alone. It’s not that I didn’t try – hit the crossbar a few times – but I concluded that I have less need of a partner than most folk – so I settled for my freedom. There are certainly people in my life whom I love – who I believe love me in return. Happiness potential 5 out of 10.
In relation to ‘something to do’, I score better. My life has been blessed with ‘good work’ – payment for following my own bliss. Even today – my imagination teems with ideas – which I dive into as energy allows – prosecute with passion – whether simple manual tasks or grand new ventures. Happiness potential 8 out of 10.
It’s against the third measure – ‘something to look forward to’ that I find myself most wanting – shocked, then shamed, to realise that I can’t think of anything. I discern in myself a killjoy voice that rejects optimism – and which always prepares for the worst. I am resolved to understand this better. Happiness potential 2 out of 10. Overall happiness potential 15 out of 30. That sounds about right. Miserable b**tard.


The SNP Administration has now proposed a budget allocation for Scotland’s Third Sector – which in these difficult times is a generous one. We are fortunate to have a champion in John Swinney – who not only values what we do – but has influence. Interesting 6 lines in Budget Report identifying Government’s Third Sector priorities.

Senscot has always enjoyed a close relationship  with the Development Trust  movement – and with its English Director, Steve Wyler – who 7 years ago, helped us establish DTA Scotland as an independent sister organisation. Steve is one of the UK’s leading visionaries around community empowerment – as sound in this field as anyone I know. His decision to associate himself with the work of the Think-Tank, ResPublica – founded by (Red Tory) Phillip Blond – must have taken courage. His positioning is indicative of the increasing blurring of the old party battle lines – of how social activists are choosing to organise around issues. Here is a new report, jointly written by Steve and Blond – which calls for a sweeping transfer of assets to communities; don’t be surprised if the English Govt goes with this. See,

I thoroughly enjoyed this paper by Francois Matarasso – specially commissioned as an introduction to last week’s HIE/Creative Scotland’s Conference: ‘Old Maps and New’ (see below). He describes an increasingly insecure and uncertain world in which "elites are gradually losing control of knowledge". He suggests that those parts of Europe, untouched by industrialisation (like the Highlands and Islands of Scotland), retain a social, cultural, political and economic independence – resourcefulness – which gives them an advantage in our post-industrial society. He predicts that the future of cultural activity will be much more distributed – everyone with a chance to be a producer – consumer.

I’m a fan of the Guardian online – which this week has created a bespoke Social Enterprise Network – an indication of how prominent our sector has become. The composition of the new network’s Advisory Panel – a dozen sector stalwarts – gives an idea of where they’re pitching it – i.e. London. It galls that there is still so little understanding down there, that Scotland is a separate place – with our own political culture. Organisations like Joseph Rowntree Foundation, NESTA, New Economics Foundation etc are peripheral up here ‘cos they fail to grasp that they won’t get buy in to a London imposed agenda. I doubt whether they much care. See,

Sometimes, when out and about, I get asked if there are any copies left of the book, "You’ve Got to Laugh" – which is a selection of Bulletin opening columns from 2001 – 2006. The answer is yes – and you may consider it would make an original Xmas gift. In September this year, Richard Garlick, editor of Regeneration and Renewal Magazine, posted this generous review in his blog. The book is £10 or two for £15 – the money goes to Senscot. If interested, e-mail

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Glasgow Homelessness Network, Advocacy Matters (Greater Glasgow), Izzy’s Promise, Garvald Edinburgh, Advocacy Matters, Route 81 Youth Project Ltd, Argyll & Bute Social Enterprise Network EVENTS: Compassionate Living Fayre Edinburgh, 20 Nov; EVOLVE workshops, 23 Nov; Follow the Thread Storytelling Session, 26 Nov; The Write Way to the Wild Woman, 27 Nov;
TENDERS: Short Break and Respite Services for Adults – Bearsden, UK-Edinburgh: apparatus for sound, video-recording and reproduction, Business Support to the Enterprising Third Sector

NETWORKS 1st:  Colin writes: Over 100 folk attended the Social Enterprise Conference/Ceilidh this week at New Lanark. All 20 SENs were represented at this 6th running of the event. Highlights included a lively Question Time with Geoff Pearson (Scottish Govt) updating us on what appears a generous budget allocation for the Third Sector; Yrock picked up both the Dragons’ Den and Audience awards; and we unveiled a new website for Networks 1st. We also issued a press release with the results of our recent Vital Stats survey. 7 of the 20 SENs participated. Of 70 organisations, turnover was circa £60m; trading making up 67% of this income; over 1,500 people employed; and over 2,500 training/volunteering places. With luck, we’ll extend the Survey to all 20 SENs over the next year. See,
For more info’ on the Ceilidh and other Networks News, see

Aidan attended the ‘The Old Maps and New’ Conference in Inverness last weekend (see above). The event explored themes around the relationship between the cultural sector and social enterprise – and whether or not there is an appetite for greater collaboration/partnership or even mergers.Whilst clear messages of support were evident from the ‘funders’, it was also clear that for their to be a real impact it would come through the work of locally based community organisations.There were some outstanding examples of enterprising cultural organisations – Taigh Chearsabhagh in South Uist and Shetland Arts, in particular, standing out. You can check out the presentations etc on this webcast. See,

People I speak to are increasingly skunnered with the shallow level of Scottish Politics – the bitter party wrangling. There’s little ideological divide – just two street gangs brawling for territory. Iain MacWhirter argued in Sunday’s Herald that last week’s killing of the Drinks Bill – disgraced Holyrood.

This week’s bulletin profiles an Edinburgh-based organisation that is actively pursuing business ideas so that it can compete better in the new commissioning/contracting environment. MECOPP offers a range of services to Black & Minority Ethnic carers and people in receipt of care. Through their Business Development Team they are exploring developing a number of services into social enterprises. To begin with, they are now actively marketing their three training/meeting rooms on their premises in Leith Walk. For more, see

Before I return my book of Norman MacCaig poems to the shelf, here’s his ‘Praise of a Man’ which is an apt remembrance of the bard himself. 
"He went through a company like a lamplighter – see the dull minds, one after another, begin to glow, to shed a beneficent light. He went through a company like a knifegrinder – see the dull minds scattering sparks of themselves, becoming razory, becoming useful. He went through a company as himself. But now he’s one of the multitudinous company of the dead where are no individuals. The beneficent lights dim but don’t vanish. The razory edges dull, but still cut. He’s gone; but you can see his tracks still, in the snow of the world."

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

Best wishes,


Subscribe to this bulletin:

To unsubscribe or change subscription address/ e-mail