Senscot Bulletin 20-08-2004



Dear members and friends,


My mother died when I was four – went to live with an aunt – who died last week aged 87.  At that age not a matter for grief really – more the celebration of a life – but the funeral stirred powerful memories – happy and sad.  Do we ever understand the events and relationships that shape us – does it matter?

            Like her mother before her, my aunt was a matriarch, in the old tradition.  A private person with natural dignity she was wise – intelligent – a peacemaker.  Her ‘life project’ was her family.  Her strong Christian faith explained all of life – spiritual – social – material.  Don’t think that she had any fear of death – or any doubt that she would rejoin her husband – parents – brothers.

            Whenever I saw her I pressed for the oral history of our family – childhood stories.  She told how once she smelt burning and rushed through to the bedroom I shared with her son – to find that we had lit a roaring fire in the middle of the carpet and were running in and out with glasses of water ‘playing fire engines’.

            Last month at a family first communion I sat next to my aunt – lucid, responsive, stoical – but physically spent.  As we parted I said, ‘See you at Carlo’s in September’ – she looked at me deliberately – gently.  ‘I don’t think so son.’

            My aunt loved a laugh – would have appreciated this monologue about death by comedian George Carlin.  See also end piece.  (



Whilst most third sector newsletters and bulletins in Scotland (there are now around 40) seem content to peddle the latest Scottish Executive policy line – the new SURF magazine ScotRegen is trying to stimulate debate. The current issue carries two contrasting pieces on Community Planning which caught our attention.  No one is better positioned to discuss CP than civil servant Ian Mitchell, acting Director of Regeneration at Communities Scotland, but while his piece is ‘worthy’ it is also somewhat predictable: (No – I wouldn’t like the job of sexing up CP.) The other piece, however, challenges – Chik Collins (Paisley University) questions the basic relevance of partnerships as our main regeneration strategy – arguing that they have failed to deliver the bacon – that we need to look for alternatives. He makes a good case.  Well researched.



Instead of local partnerships – or alongside them – many communities have created locally owned Development Trusts as the thrust of their Regeneration efforts.  An estimated 200 such trusts currently operate in Scotland – at a fraction of the cost of partnerships because they are driven by the inspiration and energy of local people.  The challenge is to connect these dispersed trusts into a national movement.  Strong feeling this could be the future.



When the NOF (New Opportunities Fund) was launched it was perceived by the sector as a hijack – the diversion of the people’s lottery resources into government programmes.  For this reason there was widespread resistance when NOF merged with the Communities Fund to form the Big Lottery. But according to the Big Lottery Fund position paper published last week, there will be more freedom for the new lotto fund not less (



Sadly, Emma, our Office Manager, is leaving us to take up a new post as a Development Officer (East of Scotland) with CRNS.  Whilst we are disappointed to see her go, this is a great opportunity for Emma, particularly as it is in a field that holds special interest for her.  Downside for Emma is that she won’t get shot of us that easily, as Senscot and CRNS’s paths will be crossing regularly in the year ahead.  Emma’s departure obviously creates a vacancy within the Senscot office that we are keen to fill.  We’re looking for a good communicator with strong finance and IT skills.  If you’re interested in applying for the post or know anyone who might be, contact and we’ll send out the relevant papers.



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: 69 vacancies, incl: BabyG.R.O.E., Volunteer Centre Dundee, Move On, Scotland UnLtd, GAMH, EVOC, Gorebridge Health Project, NCH Scotland, Breakthrough Project, Scottish Natural Heritage.


EVENTS: Greenspace…The Common Denominator, Greenspace Scotland Conference, LETS Help Social Enterprise, Forres, 17th-19th Sept.; Voluntary Arts Scotland’s Mapping the Future Planning Series, 18th Sept.-22nd Jan; Edinburgh, 22 Sept; Strategic Campaigning, Edinburgh, 12-13 Oct; Wilderness Ecotherapy Course, Knoydart, 10-16 Oct; The John Muir Trust Conference, Pitlochry, 21-23 Oct; 2nd Annual Edinburgh Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace, Edinburgh, 24 Feb–6 March 2005.


CAN YOU HELP? Subliminal Directions (this week’s profile) is on the look out for unwanted cameras and musical instruments for use in their social enterprise.  If you can help please contact Mark Kelly or Duncan McMahon on 01592 860 296 or


For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’ at:   



Plans for a vast redevelopment to revive the south bank area of the River Clyde have been unveiled. The project will extend from Braehead to Renfrew, and the developers expect to create 9,250 jobs and attract new business to the area. (



Senscot is a member of Which? Online and we have posted a recent report they did on credit unions – worth a look. (  



At the big National Regeneration Conference in Manchester recently, Renton Community Development Trust’s Archie Thompson won the award for straight talking, he said that barriers encountered trying to regenerate the area included the statutory agencies and he likened the efforts of certain outsiders making their mark as akin to a dog coming into the neighbourhood and peeing on the lampposts.



This week’s bulletin profiles Subliminal Directions, a social enterprise in Fife helping young and disadvantaged people realise and develop their creative abilities in photography and music.  Subliminal Directions’ core product is a 13 week programme that covers a range of skills including recording and photographic production, web design, computer applications, desktop publishing and merchandising design.  Founders Mark Kelly and Duncan McMahon have received support from Scotland UnLtd and the Social Enterprise Development Partnership (SEDP) in Fife as well as other funders (see profile) and hope to have audio and photographic studios available for commercial rent in the near future.  They would particularly welcome donations of old musical instruments and cameras for use in the workshops. For further info’, see (project profiles)



At the end of ‘The English Patient’, Michael Ondaatje captures something of the way in which death defines us finally – uniquely, ‘We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swam up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.  I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead.  I believe in such cartography…’


I am grateful to Richard Holloway’s new book for providing these words of ending,


‘When the map of our life is complete, and we die in the richness of our own history, some among the living will miss us for a while, but the earth will go on without us.  Its day is longer than ours, though we now know that it too will die.  Our brief finitude is but a beautiful spark in the vast darkness of space.  So we should live the fleeting day with passion and, when the night comes, depart from it with grace.’


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

Best wishes,



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