Senscot Bulletin: 19-11-2004





Dear members and friends,


In bed, in the dark, at 6am on Monday morning – from nowhere I get a powerful impulse (from a dream?) – an impulse to spend today in touch with my mortality. To feel my hunger and thirst – my aloneness. To test myself to physical exhaustion. It’s a ‘must do’. E-mail work – ask them to cover – disconnect phone and computer – at first light I’m out in worn clothes among the 300 stones collected for my drystone dyke. Today I’m allowed only bread and water sufficient to maintain my strength.

My desire to experience exhaustion takes only 20 minutes – so I slow down. Work, rest. Work, rest. In spite of poor weather I feel exhilarated. Sing old cowboy songs – elevenses bread and water tastes great. Next period is a low – make mistakes – have to redo bits – headache from caffeine withdrawal – get angry with individual stones – with myself – resolve wobbles. For lunch I have two slices of bread – lie on bed for 20 minutes – catnap – in the afternoon it comes good.

There is something Zen about building a wall – if you look at the stones with attention, they themselves suggest where they should go. Sometimes the fit is ‘so right’ – its like magic. The stones, the wall, my brain, my hands – all merge. I become absorbed – only stop when the light fails – exhausted –smelly – happy. Shower and eat delicious apple – (reward) – in bed by 7 – lie in the dark listening to storm outside. ‘If I was a nomad,’ I think, ‘could I still keep up with the tribe – or would they have to leave me for the Polar Bears?’ Fall asleep.



Now that elected Regional Assemblies have been dropped in England – will government seek to strengthen local democracy by revitalising Councils? Not according to a recent speech by Chris Clark, the Education Secretary, which Peter Hetherington in Wednesday’s Guardian, says, should be taken as the view of Downing Street.

‘Let me face you quite directly and say that your role is not for the most part concerned with directly providing services,’ he said, ‘ it will increasingly be about commissioning and working with and through others – voluntary, community organisations – private companies – co-operatives – whatever it may happen to be. You face huge and critical leadership challenges, of vision and strategy, of joining up and empowering, of supporting and training others.’



Last week, we welcomed news that Jack Perry has been overruled and Scottish Enterprise must stick with social inclusion. Reader Dave Keltie writes, ‘I strongly disagree with you here. Some of the best agency people are sitting in endless partnership meetings growing more and more frustrated and helpless instead of getting on with delivering effective services.’



I’m an enthusiastic supporter of the Scottish Government relocation policy – great idea. 8 jobs for Tiree and 10 for Kinlochleven is a genuine boost for their economies and lifts the morale of these communities. Let’s see much more of this, Jack.



In spite of all their hot rhetoric about tackling persistent young offenders, this so called ‘flagship’ project of the executive has so far flopped. Far from dropping, the number of persistent young offenders has risen by more than a third since 2000 (from 890 to 1201).



If the resident community of South Uist takes on the ownership and management of the estate where they live – it will be the largest community buyout in Scottish History (37,000ha). A Feasibility Study published last week pointed the way forward with a range of projects including the creation of a new brand to help market the area and its products.



Another social enterprise network looks to be emerging in Ayrshire. An initial meeting took place in Maybole this week with a follow up arranged for January. For info’, contact



YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice you send. But please send in any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:


JOBS: 89 vacancies, incl. posts with: Connector, Northwest Economic Network, McSensce, Fresh Start, Social Enterprise Academy, Midlothian Sure Start, the Iona Community, Stewartry CVO


EVENTS: Knowledge is Power, Scottish Civic Forum human rights event, Edinburgh, 27 Nov; ‘Consuming for good?’ Edinburgh City Council Chambers 8 Dec; Triodos Bank, Evening Celebrating Social Enterprise, Glasgow, 9 Dec; Homing In On… Community Development: are social enterprises and development trusts the answer?, Edinburgh, 15 Dec; Finding Out About Energy’, Dundee, 15 Jan 2005


Aberdeen City Social Enterprise Network holds its next meeting on 7 Dec, 11am-1pm at Turning Point, 45-49 Holburn Street. Contact: Sophy Copland,



Senscot is not overly bothered with definitions of social enterprise or social entrepreneurs – and some folk criticise us for our broadbrush inclusive approach. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t read copious academic bumff. This week Dr. Adrian Atkinson draws distinction between Enterprisers and Entrepreneurs and makes some interesting points (and some daft ones).



Many of you know that the DTI in London has a specialist Social Enterprise Unit – what you may not know is that the new Director is Hilary Brown who recently gave an interview to Social Enterprise Magazine. Her priorities for our sector are: funding growth opportunities: overcoming financial constraints: A strengthened evidence base to make the economic and social case: ways to connect social investors with social investment opportunities.



Ernesto Sirolli believes that Regeneration is about helping individuals to realise their entrepreneurial dreams. By fusing an individuals dreams with a passion for community, Sirolli connects human potential with economic regeneration – and helps realise both. When Ernesto came to speak to Senscot recently, Antonia Swinson, an acute observer, was present. What did she make of the Sirolli message?



This week’s bulletin sees us include our 150th profile of a Scottish social enterprise. Fittingly, we’re able to profile a brand new one – The Soap Co (Edinburgh). This new social firm recently opened and has a retail outlet on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. The Soap Co (Edinburgh) offers a wide range of handmade, locally produced, high quality soap and bathing related products. Run by Forth Sector, the social firm creates supported employment and training opportunities for people with severe and enduring mental health problems. The new social firm has created 6 waged jobs and will provide up to 8 trainee placements. For more info’ on The Soap Co (Edinburgh), see the ‘Profiles’ section of our website:  



Psychologists tell us that events in our infancy have a special impact – which establishes our basic ‘ life view’ as positive or negative. Small children who experience loss – particularly of a parent – can in later life, find it difficult to be open to relationships and to welcome success. C.P. Cavafy’s poem, Che fece… il gran rifiuto.’ reminds me of this (The title refers to Dante’s ‘Inferno’. It means ‘He who made the grand refusal’).

‘For some people the day comes when they have to declare the great Yes or the great No. It is clear at once who has the Yes ready within him; and saying it, he goes from honour to honour, strong in his convictions. He who refuses does not repent. Asked again, he’d still say no. Yet that no – the right no – drags him down all his life.’


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

Best wishes,



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