Senscot Bulletin: 20.07.07

Dear members and friends,

The formative period of my life was very religious and I realise now that it was illuminated by several exceptionally saintly men and women. Fr. Hannan at my boarding school was so holy that he said mass in a wee private chapel and was prone to ecstasies. The boys who served his mass were allowed to bring (discreet) toys – and were expected to interrupt prolonged trances. Other characters were Mother Catherine from the convent near our house (regal and mystic) – Sister Mary (kind and gentle) – Brother Tom who burst into song like Francis of Assisi. Many memories. In common they had a softness about the eyes and dedication to a life of prayer and service. That’s where I wanted to go.
 Then another side of my nature emerged – wilful, untamed – swashbuckling. A tension grew between my desire to belong, and the need to be a free spirit. I left the seminary to make my way in the world – been searching for a homeland since. Now well into my seventh decade there’s more stillness – a natural turning inwards again – but I feel the same old resistance to doctrine. I’m attracted to Buddhism but won’t accept that my ego is an illusion. We’ve been through a lot together – survived – mostly sane – I’m grateful. My ego needs to be loved – not abandoned. If we can’t go together, we’ll just stay here.

Things just keep getting better in England’s Department of Communities (DCLG). Its new dynamic Secretary, Hazel Blears told the Local Govt. Association last week that she’s fed up talking about localism – she wants to get on with it. She intends that within 5 years every neighbourhood in England has a pot of money that the community decides how to spend. There will be year-long pilots in 10 cities including Birmingham, Southampton, Newcastle. The question for Scotland is how we can participate in this new renewal of civic democracy. One of the new targets set for Communities Scotland is the implementation of ‘empowered status communities’. Maybe that’s to be our term for community budgeting! In the current ‘Renewal and Regeneration’ magazine, Sir Peter Hall writes of the community budgeting pioneered in Brazil’s Porto Allegre in 1989, which has now spread through urban Latin America. It has been exhaustively analysed and found to work. But the real question is whither we now have an administration with the political intent to revive democracy in Scotland.

A quote from Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1835 work on democracy. “The strength of free people resides in the local community. Local institutions are to liberty what primary schools are to learning; they put it within the people’s reach; they teach people to appreciate and make use of it.”

Article by Cliff Prior (unLtd CEO) in current New Statesman as good as I’ve read on the issues around Third Sector delivery of health services. Cliff says that the DoH has to be clearer what it’s looking for. Is it patient choice? – Is it innovation? – reaching the hard to reach? – building community capacity? – user led services to engage people in their own health? All these goals are worthy – but different and amenable to different solutions. He argues that the Third Sector can contribute to all these aims but lets get the question clear – then go for the best answers.

The UK’s largest prison, Wandsworth, has awarded the contract for all its health care services to a social enterprise called Secure Healthcare.
Our own Scottish Social Enterprise and Health Conference, ‘Fit for Purpose’, is building up a head of steam. Already demand is high. If you’d like to be there, see for the online Booking Form and draft programme. Remember there’s no charge. For any further queries, contact

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: 26 vacancies, incl. posts with: Big Lottery Fund, One World Shop, Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire, Nisus Scotland, Scottish Parliament

EVENTS: 10 events, incl. Football And Regeneration – Intangible assets and goodwill, Edinburgh, 14 Aug; Public Social Partnership A Model for Social Enterprise Procurement, Glasgow; 29 Aug, Twenty-Twenty Summer School: for Scotland’s Social Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow, Barony Castle, Eddleston ,20-23 Sept.

Tom Hunter says he`s going to make and give away £1bn – because there are more super-rich than ever before and the public will become intolerant of wealth accumulation unless they see it spread around. Polly Toynbee says that’s all very well but society would be better served if the super rich weren’t so averse to paying tax.

The Social Enterprise Coalition (in England) has negotiated a free legal helpline for their members. The legal firm Hempsons will provide an initial free ten minute legal consultation over the telephone for social enterprises. Could someone in Scotland provide a similar service? For info’, see

Senscot has around 700 subscribers who work in public services and in the next few weeks we will e-mail them with details of a seminar we are hosting on the subject of innovation in the public sector – sometimes called intrapreneurs. In the meantime, you may want to put in your diary Thursday 4th October. (correction from last week). For info’, see
News of a new social enterprise in Perthshire. Launchpad Training & Enterprise’s new carpet recycling service Launchpad House & Home has begun accepting donations of carpets and floor tiles. They’ve already negotiated a service level agreement with Perth and Kinross Council. They are also offering a free uplift service. For more info’, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a community enterprise located in South Uist. Cothrom Ltd, set up in 1992, provides a range of quality training services in the Southern Isles. Cothrom has a local membership of over 100 people with their main centre situated in Stoneybridge. They also operate a Drop-in Centre in Benbecula and an Adult Basic Education Centre in Barra. More recently, they have created a new Learning Centre which as well as being an important community-owned asset will aid the financial sustainability of Cothrom. For more info’, see

This is Mario Vargas Llosa writing about Pablo Neruda:
“I asked him to read a poem from ‘Residence of Earth’ which I love: ‘The Young Monarch’. He agreed, but when he found the page he exclaimed, in surprise: ‘Ah, but this is a prose poem.’ I felt a dagger to my heart: how could he have forgotten one of the most perfect compositions ever to come from the pen of a poet? After the interview, he wanted me to go and eat Middle Eastern food. In a Moroccan restaurant in the rue de L’Harpe, he gave the fork back and asked for a second spoon. He ate with great concentration and happiness, brandishing a spoon in each hand like an alchemist mixing his vials, about to create the definitive potion. Watching Neruda eat, one realised that life was worth living, that happiness was possible and that its secret was sizzling in a frying pan.”
I haven’t read ‘The Young Monarch’ and can’t find it anywhere. Can someone e-mail it?

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

Best wishes.

To receive this bulletin directly, you can sign up here:
Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available See: