Senscot Bulletin: 19.12.08

Dear members and friends,

From time to time I feel the need to be alone – to just hunker down in my foxhole. It’s not like depression – not like being miserable – it’s more a feeling of being over stimulated. So I’ve learned how to shut the shop – put up a sign – ‘‘gone fishing.’’  Mentally and physically I just flop – bed, track suit, books, films, catnaps – till I`m detached – idle – unwashed. After 3 days I`m usually ready to open the shop again.
 Get back from London last Wednesday, tired with a heavy cold – sounds worse than I feel, but Thursday, Friday and Saturday I`m in `flop` mode. By Saturday afternoon, I`m chilled – listening to the Hibs game in bed when someone chaps my door – who the hell’s that?  It’s Joe the pharmacist with my prescription: “You sounded bad on the phone, Mr Demarco – didn’t come for your stuff – thought I’d check you’re ok”. “That’s very kind, Joe – please come in”. My front room looks like a bomb site – dishes, clothes, books, papers, detritus. Joe looks concerned – asks some OAP type questions, as if to gauge my state of mind, to check if I`m ‘‘coping’’ – I find this hilarious. I smile – apologise for the state of the room – explain that I enjoy living alone – heat and feed myself well – but sometimes don’t bother with housework…” and if you’ll risk the unsanitary conditions I’ll make us a cup of tea”. He smiles and sits down. When he leaves, I start clearing up. Hibs won 2-0.

2008 has been a funny old year for the Third Sector in Scotland – snakes and ladders.  The year started with our social enterprise community established as a ‘differentiated’ subset of the Third Sector – but ended with us back in the generic broth.  Can’t link to any related documents – it all seemed to happen ‘off camera’.  Another setback was OSCR dropping the ball in its interpretation of what constitutes charitable activity – to include private schools – shameful partiality. ( See Stephen Maxwell’s letter in the Herald)  Another ‘snake’ is the draft business plan from the Glasgow Housing Association which makes explicit that it fully intends to hang on to the majority of its houses permanently.  No issue better illustrates bureaucratic manipulation of citizens.
But more than anything else, 2008 was a year when global events outweighed the local.  The collapse in disgrace of world banking means that a new economic order will be established – less like a casino – more attuned to the needs of people and our planet.  This is reason for optimism – that neo conservatism is in decline – that some of humankind’s less destructive impulses will now shape world events.
———————————————- published an article on Wednesday by John Swinney about the Third Sector in Scotland.  I rechecked the date because he says exactly the same things as he said 12 months ago – no progression – no development of ideas – or deeper understanding of issues – a straight cut and paste of the same platitudes.  In the first months of his extensive portfolio, broad-brush was good enough – its not now.  He ends with this: ‘‘Together, we can build on the ambitions of enterprising Scots, turn around previously lacklustre economic performance, and ensure that more people benefit from an increasingly successful economy.’’  In 40 years working in the Third Sector I’ve never met anyone who joined it to advance the economy.  We need a minister who knows what we are about.

The whole community empowerment agenda in England is well ahead of Scotland and one of its central planks is their ‘‘Advancing Assets for Communities’’ demonstration programme.  The third round has just been launched for another 30 areas across England where specific projects, involving local authorities and community organisations, will be supported by the Development Trust Association

Bob Holman has long been a voice of sanity in Scotland – championing the authority of local people in determining regeneration policy.  Holman is an example of a generation of independant community activists who would not be silenced by Labour municipalists. Society Guardian did a piece on him this week.

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: West Lothian Food and Health Development, Horizons, Forth Sector, IACD/C
EVENTS: Alternative Giving 2008, WKCIL / Craft Town Scotland, 23 Dec; Mental Health Awareness, Fife Employment Access Trust, 6 Feb; Fit for Purpose, Senscot, 3 Mar; Community Recycling in a Zero Waste Scotland, CRNS, 10 Mar; Stress Awareness at Work, Fife Employment Access Trust, 13 Mar

NETWORKS 1st News: More news on the Enterprise Fund. Guidance etc on ‘How to apply’ will appear on the Scottish Govt website in January. The Fund itself will open for applications in late Jan. and will run through until March 2011. Applications in excess of £70,000 will need to be supported by a business plan. For more NETWORKS News, see

On the back of their recent photography competition `social vision`, Triodos has produced a social enterprise calendar for 2009. The calendar includes the likes of Out of the Blue and the Breadmaker. If you fancy one, contact

Bookings are beginning to come in for the 3rd `Fit for Purpose`- Social Enterprise and Health Conference at the Story Telling Centre in Edinburgh on 3rd March 2009. Keynote speaker is Shona Robison (Minister for Public Health). The Conference will look specifically at the added value social enterprises can bring to delivering Government strategies on public health. Booking form available here

Antonia Swinson writes to tell us that the 2009 S2S booking form is now available. Scotland’s premier social enterprise trade fair takes place at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh on 23rd April 2009. A discounted Early Bird rate is available until 18th Feb 2009. See  The Coalition is also running a `Surviving Recession` event at the Melting Pot on 20th January. For more details, see

This week’s bulletin profiles one of Scotland’s biggest and best known credit unions. Capital Credit Union (CCU) was founded in 1989 for employees of the old Lothian Regional Council. Today, CCU provides financial services for anybody working in Edinburgh, the Lothians or the Scottish Borders. It now provides savings, lending and insurance services to over 10,000 members from over 40 sponsoring employers and the wider community. The organisation now has an asset base of over £11m
For more, see

This month sees the publication of `Midnight and Other Poems` – the first major collection in English translation by the Palestinian poet, Mourid Barghouti. The very short poem `Silence` is a sample – “Silence said: truth needs no eloquence. After the death of the horseman, the homeward bound horse says everything without saying anything.” very Zen!  Barghouti says that this poem expresses his dislike of rhetoric and eloquence – his love for simplicity and concrete language: “The beauty of a poem is to cool down the language, because the flamboyant, bombastic tone of language is for governments, generals and political parties. A poet has to do the opposite.” Guardian interview with Mourid Barghouti

Senscot will close from Tuesday 23rd Dec till Monday 5th Jan.

Wishing all our readers peace and renewal among your friends and family – from all of us at Manor Place (in order of arrival),

Laurence, Aidan, Colin, Varda, Victoria, Karina and Anna

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