Senscot Bulletin: 20-05-2005




Dear members and friends,


My cottage sits alone, overlooking an ancient church and graveyard – a tranquil spot. It was probably built to house a family to mind the church – makes me feel sort of responsible – so I take notice who comes and goes. On Sunday, I was in my front garden – bright sunshine – when two muckle lads wandered up – about 17 – wild ones these – familiar with mayhem. One of them asks me a pretend question – to check me out –then they disappear behind the church. This could be trouble.

First they ring the church bells – then doors slamming – then breaking glass. What to do? Never been a fighter – cos I’m big and loud – could usually bluff it. But since they removed a disc from my neck – not sure it could survive a good punch. Determined not to find out. Fortunately they soon get fed up – run past me laughing – but they leave me feeling helpless and angry – my day defiled.

After lunch – kneeling planting marigolds – realise someone is standing behind me. Panic – the lads are back – I stand up – scared but angry – my temper puts me in danger. But when I turn, it’s a woman in her 40s – clearly with learning difficulties – must have just wandered in my gate. ‘What’s your name?’ I smile. ‘Nancy’ – No sign of who’s looking after her so we sit and chat. It’s relaxed and easy. Soon relieved carer arrives – smiles all round – away they go. Struck by how happy Nancy is – and how with her visit, the day becomes undefiled. Nancy with the laughing face.



Our prime minister welcomes the decrease of deference in our society, but says our citizens – especially the young – have lost civic respect.  My comments are based on a letter in Tuesday’s Guardian from a Dr Mark Vernon: ‘For Aristotle, civic respect was part of the larger issue of ‘civic friendship.’ He held that, whilst it cannot be directly legislated for, certain conditions promote ‘civic friendship’ and therefore respect.  A growing gap between rich and poor, for instance, damages civic friendship – it flourishes however in a civically engaged society. (He seems to have used the term as we mean social capital; the glue that bonds society) Aristotle thought that ‘civic friendship’ relies on a politics that promotes peoples ‘wellbeing’ as well as their ‘welfare.’ ‘Welfare’ meets little more than physical needs – ‘wellbeing’, though, is aimed at ‘having a life!’ Contemporary politics has largely lost its capacity to engage with citizens’ wellbeing – assuming that management and economics is all. Little wonder that is does not command respect – yet thinks that it can.’



Senscot’s field workers are picking up quite a lot of grumbling from folk who have had their Futurebuilders applications rejected.  It is relevant to ask whether this is the inevitable consequence of any competition – or whether the process could be handled better.  Most of us are used to making funding applications – some take days – and when we get a rejections we feel angry.  But if the process is transparent and the feed-back makes sense – we just have to get on with it – as long as we have the assurance that the process is fair.  The Futurebuilders Scotland report, launched in August last year, explicitly promises that the process ‘will be overseen by an Advisory Board on which the third sector will have strong representation.’  This promise should be implemented without delay to counter complaints that the officers picking the ‘winners and losers’ are too remote.  This issue seems to have moved forward during yesterday’s debate in the parliament about the voluntary sector. Here are two letters we have received. Full update next week.   



The £18m Futurebuilders Scotland Fund makes grants to social enterprises – but clearly – as in England – some businesses would be better served by a mix of grant and loan.  Last week a new loan fund was launched to sit alongside Futurebuilders – it will be managed by SIS and comprises £3m from the executive and £3 from HBOS.   



CanDo Magazine – Scotland’s Health Magazine that’s Positive about Disability – has launched an online edition this week:  



YELLOW PAGES/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: 43 vacancies, incl. posts with: Gallery 37 Edinburgh, Move On, West Dunbartonshire Social Inclusion Partnership, Minerva Housing Association, Iona Community, Mercy Corps, One Plus.


EVENTS: Edinburgh Green Drinks, 3 June; ‘Energising our Communities’ seminar, Isle of Gigha, 15-17 June; Equal ‘Making the case for the social economy’ seminar, Inverness, 16 June; Learning Evaluation and Planning (LEAP) events, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, 24, 28, 30 June.


MARKETPLACE: Clydebank Social Enterprise Centre has office space available; Learndirect Scotland offers free IT Skills games cd-rom.



Next month sees the second Annual General Meeting of DTA Scotland, in Perth on 20th June, with membership almost doubled to 60 Development Trusts from all parts of Scotland. The meeting is part of a larger event geared not only for Development Trusts but also for other community enterprises and is titled, ‘ Communities need to earn income – but how?’.  



This week’s bulletin profiles an organisation located in the north east of Scotland, a few miles west of Fraserburgh. The Sandhaven and Pitullie Harbour Trust was set up in 1999, as a company registered by guarantee and a registered charity, by the community of Sandhaven and Pitullie. The aim was to revitalise the local harbour and thus revive the fortunes of the local community. With the support of the local community, and grants from Grampian Enterprise and Leader II European Funds, the trust raised £20,000 to buy the Harbour in August 2000. It is now developing further plans for the Harbour, including its conversion into a Marina Development Venture. Further info:



Jerr Boschee is the founder/director of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurs in Amercia. He’s been doing this for 25 years and it’s worth understanding his perspective on our work. Briefly, Jerr would consider that we Brits are squeamish about profits – social entrepreneurs in USA are more comfortably involved with business. Jerr has written a book which offers journalistic profiles of 14 ‘nonprofits’ that have successfully started business ventures. His site generously allows you to download any chapters you wish. Some very inspiring stories.  



Glasgow and Edinburgh must put aside traditional rivalries and operate as a single city region to succeed in the global market, according to a forthcoming book ‘New wealth for old nations ‘Scotland’s economic prospects’ to be published on 24 May. Professor Edward L Glaeser, from Harvard, says Scotland’s urban core has the potential to become ‘one of the great centres of the information economy’. But he warns that some areas of Scotland are no longer productive and government money should not be spent on keeping people there. ‘The government has an obligation to every person, but not to every spot of ground. We are better off allowing the market to work, and helping people to leave declining regions.’  Scary isn’t it?   



One of the books, which over the years, moves in and out of the pile beside my bed is ‘The Journals’ of American writer John Cheever, 1912 -1982. Cheever’s diaries are as fearlessly honest as any diaries I’ve read.  ‘To disguise nothing, to conceal nothing, to write about these things that are closest to our pain, our happiness: to write about my sexual clumsiness, the agonies of Tantalus, the depth of my discouragement – I seem to glimpse it in my dreams – my despair.  To write about the foolish agonies of anxiety, the refreshment of our strength when these are ended; to write about our painful search for self, jeopardised by a stranger in the post office; a half seen face in a train window; to write about the continents and the populations of our dreams, about love and death, good and evil, the end of the world.’


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


Best wishes,



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