Senscot Bulletin: 20-01-2006

Dear members and friends,

Just had 3 weeks holiday – long enough for the mind to wander to new places – I feel the benefit.  Read some books. ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, made an impression.  Nothing new really – but we only understand when we’re ready – maybe I’m ready.  I now ‘realise’ that I can impartially watch my mind chuntering away – that if I don’t join in the babble, it quietens.  This is very liberating and I think with practice will be more so.  We’ll see how long it lasts.
 Glad to get back to my wee house – to get the wood stove roaring – to sleep in my own bed.  My poor car was demoralised – flat battery and front tyre – so lots of TLC.  Letter from Urology clinic – flow test result: ‘I think it would be worth commencing you on a tablet known as Alfuzosin’ – another intrusive drug into my body.  All of life is a breaking down and building up.  We must do all this maintenance stuff – again and again.
 Lie this morning in the half light – outside familiar shapes – the big pear tree – the old wall.  I watch my breath, my mind’s banal manoeuvres.  Later walking to the car snowdrops are pushing through the shabby grass – in January!  The relentless life force.  Brand new battery fires engine – radio comes on – Satchmo sings ‘Hello Dolly’.  I drive off hopefully – ‘moving towards whatever ancient thing it is which moves the chains and pulls us relentlessly on’.

I’m a bit alarmed that some of our colleagues are beginning to believe David Cameron’s inflated guff about how we’re all going to replace the public sector.  Polly Toynbee in the Guardian last week said it true ‘Social Enterprise is inspiring and fast may it grow.  But it is wildly unrealistic to imagine that it can supplant the public sector anytime soon.’  It is unwise for the UK leaders of the social enterprise sector to imagine that they are co-opting the Tories into our agenda – I fear it’s the other way round.  The ‘new Tories’ are only at the beginning of their policy deliberations and I’m not convinced that their Grandees will go where ‘Clan Cameron’ is pointing.  As Taki wrote in the Spectator this week, ‘If they’re Tories – I’m Ariel Sharon.’  

Impressive interview from Iain Duncan Smith in Society Guardian – he understands more about the social malaise in our deprived communities than I would have imagined.  Unlike most politicians he grasps the difference between the voluntary sector and the community sector – between the big national organisations who work closely with government and the small local groups which are ‘of’ the communities they serve.  He believes the smaller community groups to be ‘enormously effective’.  Duncan Smith is heading Conservative policy on Social Justice.  I believe that (unlike Cameron) he has more than a superficial grasp of the issues, and that when his policy group eventually reports – he will tell it the way it is.

For your information the ‘About Senscot’ section of our website has been refined following a policy day with staff and trustees. No major differences – ‘a nudge to the tiller.’

The trustees and staff at Senscot value our independence – our freedom to innovate. But undertaking controversial (unfundable) activity depends on having some unrestricted funds.  Every January we invite recipients of the bulletin to send a donation for this work. Last year you contributed £4,699 which we used to arrange meetings between network members pursuing similar themes. This year we’d like to focus on helping members to access the massive NHS budgets. Individuals are invited to send £10, £25 or £50 and organisations £50 or £100. If you require an invoice, email If you appreciate Senscot’s independence you can contribute to it.

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: 48 vacancies, incl. posts with: Flourish House, Jeely Piece Club, The Graphics Company Ltd, Bits and Bobs, Impact Arts, Fife Employment Access Trust, Young Scot Enterprise, CSV Scotland.

EVENTS: From Concept to Collection: Setting up a community wood recycling project, CRNS seminar, Stirling, 1 Feb; ‘The right Stuff’, Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum Conference 2006, Dundee , March 10; ‘S2S’, Scotland’s first social enterprise trade fair, 25 April, Perth.

Two new Local Social Enterprise Networks are getting off the ground over the next few weeks. The East Lothian Network will be holding its first meeting on 1st Feb. in the Board Room of the Maitlandfield Hotel, Haddington between 5.30 – 7.30pm. There will be a buffet provided. On the 16th Feb., the first Glasgow Network meeting will be held at the Community Central Halls, 304 Maryhill Road. The meeting itself starts at 9am with breakfast available from 8am onwards. For further info’, contact

Fife School for Social Entrepreneurs (located at Brag Enterprises) is recruiting again for its 2006 programme. Running since 2002, Fife SSE has become one of the most popular and successful learning programmes in Scotland. An open day will be held in February. For info’, see BRAG is also running an Enterprise Development Programme for organisations in Fife, called Ready, Steady, Grow. For details, see

This week the Young Foundation has published a book to mark 50 years of social research and in the attached article, Geoff Mulgan (its Director) and Alessandra Buonfino outline some of the most visible social changes which have occurred over this period.  ‘In the late 50s 60% of the population believed that other people could generally ‘be trusted.’ It has now dropped to about 29%’.

This week’s bulletin profiles a developing social enterprise in Edinburgh that has grown out of a NOF Community Access to Lifelong Learning funded ICT project. Cityconnect Ltd seeks to identify, develop and promote excellence in the use of community-based information and communication technologies and has been set up to continue the work of a NOF project that provided support and training to community organisations in Edinburgh. They do this through using an innovative approach to improving community organisations use of computers and the internet and provide leading edge unbiased advice and help with appropriate solutions and ongoing support. They have been operating successfully without funding for the last 12 months. For further info’, see    

‘When Eckhart Tolle was 29 a profound spiritual transformation virtually dissolved his old identity and radically changed the course of his life.’  I don’t really trust stories like that – psychologically dodgy – but I suppose they happen.  Anyway his book spoke to me.  ‘Be present as the watcher of your mind – of your thoughts and emotions as well as your reactions in various situations.  Be at least as interested in your reactions as in the situation or person that causes you to react.  Notice how often your attention is in the past or future.  Don’t judge or analyse what you observe.  Watch the thought, feel the emotion, observe the reaction.  Don’t make a personal problem out of these.  You will then feel something more powerful than any of these things you observe, the still observing presence itself behind the content of your mind, the silent watcher.’

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

Best wishes,

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