Senscot Bulletin 21-03-2003





Dear Members and friends,


I’m out alone on the Costa del Sol for a stolen week –
arrived last Friday – same day as freak storm that won’t move. Five days of
dark skies and rain – winds uprooting palm trees. Promised a friend in
Edinburgh that I’d lunch with his uncle Ben out here. “He’s 83 – a real
character.” Tuesday I’m invited to a beach restaurant next to his house arrive
early to read my book. The sea outside is boiling – high, angry. Inside is
smart and snug – wonderful cooking smells. Owner knows ‘Senor Ben’ and seats me
at his usual table. Nearby, five London ‘gals’ in their fifties are building
for a boozy lunch. Haircuts, jewellery, general trim v. expensive – cockney
accents – raucous laughter. They finish two bottles of Bollinger for starters.
Big blonde has dirtiest laugh I’ve ever heard.

            Ben arrives
looking a million dollars. Slim – white hair – dapper yellow waistcoat – and white
spats! The ‘gals’ applaud – so do I. He and I quickly hit it off. He’s
obviously been a big player – can still rock and roll – but has little vanity.
Great stories – secrets of the rich and famous. Later we speak about his
nephew, my friend. He produces some family photos – one is of Ben in his
twenties with a girl – in Glasgow. She looks ‘vital’ – in love. I say so. He is
surprised to see the photo in the pile. “We were engaged once… but I broke it
off.” After a pause he continues, “ You see I thought she wasn’t good enough –
that I would meet someone better – but I never did.” He looks sad. Soon I ask
for the bill – it’s already paid. As we leave, the London gals are quieter. One
is asleep – the others wilted. “People are in such a hurry” Ben remarks. Outside
we shake hands. “Laurence look after yourself – you`ve got 20 good years if you
learn to pace yourself” I thank him and go home for a sleep.



At the Upstarts Awards the compere Adrian Chiles asked each
of the winners whether they thought it appropriate for social entrepreneurs to
acquire personal wealth – drive a Bentley, etc. I believe that this is a very
pertinent question which goes right to the heart not only what we all do – but
how it is perceived by the general public. Tim Smit of the Eden Project thought
it was insulting to suggest that he should be paid less than an entrepreneur
from the private sector. Liam Black from FRC said that if we are serious about
social enterprise we must pay competitive salaries to attract the best people.
But there is something about this which makes me uneasy. Business is driven by
personal gain. Social enterprise is driven by idealism. If we give over the
leadership of our sector to mercenaries – it will falter as an ideological
movement. This is a difficult issue.



Funding for the new Development Trusts Association Scotland
has finally been confirmed. The funders include Communities Scotland  and the 
Coalfields Regeneration Trust with further sponsorship coming from the
Royal Bank of Scotland. Candidates for the post of Chief Executive will be
interviewed on Tuesday 25th March. The appetite around the country
to create new development trusts is remarkable and the new appointee will need
to hit the ground running.



Senscot’s development work towards a Scottish school for
social entrepreneurs has been a long haul to which several of our members have contributed
directly. A partnership has now been formed between Senscot, Scotland unLTD and
CEiS to take the proposal forward. Simon Clark (who has been involved from the
outset) and Bob Marshall (the Know How Company) have helped with our business
plan which has been presented to potential funders. If initial investment
capital is forthcoming, a new independent social enterprise will be created.
Working name for the new business is the Social Enterprise Academy.



Edinburgh, Glasgow and the UK’s other 12 largest cities have
signed a charter urging the government to fight for replacement of
European-funded rural subsidies by support for growth industries like ICT and
media. The ‘Eurocities’ group met last week to discuss this. The argument over
urban or rural priorities comes in the wake of January’s Scottish Executive
report in on the future strategic role of Scotland’s six cities within their
surrounding regions. (see:



NOTICES: See Hot Pages at for
more on these and other items and job vacancies. If you have a relevant notice
you’d like posted, send it to


The Rural Community Gateway, a website for news, info,
advice, links and discussions in rural Scotland, has just launched. Looks v.
promising, useful. Links, signposts, guides etc. Contact
Bruce Wares,


On a similar theme, Scottish-Communities Web Database is a
gateway to over 90 (mainly rural) community websites across Scotland. Wide
ranging, clear and easy to use.


‘A New Town Fair’ is title of New Economics Foundation’s
London conference on 16 May. For £15, incl. lunch, hear French farmer &
anti-globalisation activist Jose Bové, Italian slow food advocate Carlo Petrini
plus whole load of 3 minute pitches from orgs such as Time Bank, Plugging the
Leaks, Soil Association, Charter 88 etc. More: Molly Conisbee, 0207 089 2855


Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland loan surgeries: March 24th,
Perth; 25th, Dumfries; 31st, Aberdeen; 1st
April, Glasgow South; 2nd, Edinburgh; 7th, Cumbernauld, 8th,
Haddington; 14th, Forres; 15th, Dumbarton, 23rd,
Bathgate; 24th, Oban. For local recognised charities, and by
appointment only: 0870 902 1201.


‘Finance For Growth’, Edinburgh free loan advice surgery,
Thursday 27th March; consult panel of experienced business advisers (from
Social Investment Scotland, CEL, Royal Bank of Scotland) on your future finance
needs. Phone Dave Howie at CEL on 0131 475 2345 to arrange a time.



Last week saw the publication of a UK Corporate
Responsibility Index. It benchmarked the responsible business practice of a
range of companies (including 122 FTSE listed ones), assessing their
performance on community, environment, the workplace and the marketplace. PDF
summary of the index available at
or by calling 0870 600 2482.



This week’s profile is Ormlie Community Association (OCA), a
project leading the way in community development and planning in Caithness.
Based in Thurso, founded in 1997, it’s been involved in a range of social,
economic and environmental projects designed to regenerate the area. Key to
OCA’s success has been its ability to include all sections of the community in
its planning process and thus galvanise activity. This has led to Ormlie being
designated a pilot ‘Home Zone’ area by the Scottish Executive, and instrumental
in developing initiatives for young people in association with Save the
Children in Scotland. In June 2001, the Ormlie Centre opened, providing a range
of local services. Also, in the last year, OCA has become a Company limited by
guarantee. Further info:
(Project Profile)



The short window of opportunity to register as an
independent candidate for the council elections starts today for 18 days until
— April. Some council websites now have the requisite forms downloadable, and
registration packs are now available from all local council election officers:
contact details are posted at
A new crop of community sponsored independents would bring a freshness to local



Some of my favourite books are personal journals. Not
necessarily the rich and famous – definitely not politicians – and not detailed
accounts of the mundane, travel, etc. Who I admire are the courageous souls who
are prepared to set it down the way it feels – the haphazard , messy unfolding
of life itself. Kept a journal myself for ten years but couldn’t show it to
anyone. Pretentious self-examination – drunken self-pity – a real
embarrassment. Feel sorry for this guy. Reading it now is disturbing – like a
total stranger lived my life. Don’t remember being so unhappy. Maybe what each
of us is today is an ‘anthology’ – a composite of many selves. William Boyd has
written a book on the subject of journals (‘Any Human Heart’ – Penguin). In a
recent piece in the Guardian he wrote, “Ageing and the getting of wisdom
contribute to this constant metamorphosis. As we move through time it’s as if
we shed these selves in the way a snake will slough off its skin. We can also
be certain that our memories will play us false about our past: only the
journal remains as witness to the series of individuals we were in our lives.”
Mine stays locked up.


That’s all for this week. Send us news of your adventures.

Best wishes,




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