Senscot Bulletin: 21-07-2006

Dear members and friends,

Some day’s darkness falls and my demons come back and it feels like the bad men are coming to get me again. Fear and anger intrude – nothing seems genuine – I imagine insults – feel a fraud. In the gloom I’ve learned to move to automatic pilot – survival mode. Avoid humans – avoid decisions. Potter around garden or workshop – wee manual tasks with their own meaning. Keep it simple. This evening I boiled 3 potatoes from the garden and opened a tin of corned beef. Really enjoyed it. The banquets with friends will come again. There’s one shop in our village – hanging on by a slack nail – so I try to use it. Waiting yesterday behind old Tom who drops 50p. He’s 86 – can’t bend – so I say ‘let me get that.’ As I hand it over he drops his stick and grips counter unsteadily. When I give him the stick he doesn’t speak but smiles – gathers himself – does a four point turn and hobbles slowly out the door. There is a quiet fortitude all round us – folk getting by. Life has
its defeats. It’s about steadying ourselves – re-gathering – and moving on. That’s just the way it is.


Last December, the treasury got the banks to agree that dormant accounts could be used for community benefit and Gordon Brown asked Sir Robert Cohen to chair a commission to make proposals. According to the Observer last Sunday, there’s at least £3 billion and probably nearer £6 billion available. The ‘Commission on Unclaimed Assets’ published last week its key proposal which is to create a new national financial institution which they are calling a ‘Social Investment Bank’.

The target beneficiaries of the ‘bank’ are the poorest people in the UK, who increasingly live in areas cut off from investment. The bank proposes to reach theses communities by providing the Third Sector with the funding it needs to realise its potential in tackling poverty. I found the report visionary and I hope this is not a devolved matter which our executive could divert to something else.


Polly Toynbee, who is one of my favourite political commentators, has started this week an opinion column in Third Sector magazine – which is a real capture for them and for the sector in general. Polly brings the linkage between what we do on the ground and the moods and moves at the highest levels of government. She wrote this week, ‘the new Office of the Third Sector will be no quiet backwater: its first minister, Ed Miliband, is one of the brightest and best, but also one of the most politically astute operators. – he will need to be.’


I am an enthusiastic fan of the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland’s ‘Growing Community Assets (GCA)’ scheme which will distribute £50 million over three years to help communities take control of assets – land and property and other things. Decisions on grants will remain with the Lottery but they have let a £3.9 million contract to a new consortium led by Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) which will provide support including application development and post award monitoring. The GCA scheme was inspired by the successful Scottish Land Fund which HIE pioneered so they know what they’re doing. Other consortium partners are CEiS; Forth Sector; Highlands and Islands Community Energy Company (HICEC) and Scottish Enterprise. See


Edinburgh has lost out to Ludlow in Shropshire as UK headquarters of the international Slow Food movement. The national office will give a boost to the movement’s activities in the UK, which include building a network of producers, cooks and offering greater support to the local ‘convivia’ (groups of members):


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs ( or events ( and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 27 vacancies, incl. posts with: CHAP, Voluntary Arts Scotland, Edinburgh Community Food Initiative, The Rock Trust, Dunedin Canmore Housing Group, Capability Scotland.

EVENTS: Inspiring Equal Futures Events, August 6-7; Cyrenians Farm Apple Grafting Workshop, Edinbugh, 12 Aug; Creating Connections – Strategic Campaigning Training, 11-12 Sept, Edinburgh.


TOOLS AND TEMPLATES: We sent out a request for possible resources for this section of our website. Thanks to the many people who have sent things in. Check out the new resources and if you can suggest improvements please let us know:


FEEDBACK FILE: An older question has generated some recent interest. See ‘Debating the future of the social economy’: (scroll down).


Senscot is committed to supporting the advance of the concept of social capital as a common language to describe and evaluate what we all do. Their recent conference hosted by Assist Social Capital was well attended and well received. Colin Campbell has produced a short summary of the feedback returned by 33% of delegates.


This year’s Festival of Spirituality and Peace has as its theme ‘longing and belonging: identity today’. Rev Donald Reid invites you to attend the Festival launch at St John’s Church Princes Street, Edinburgh, where Eastern Orthodox theologian Bishop Kallistos Ware will reflect on the meaning of human personhood, followed by an informal reception. Invitation and info:


This week the bulletin profiles Home, a designer furniture outlet, based in the heart of Glasgow’s Merchant City. Home is a new furniture design, restoration and recycling initiative, producing high quality products at Impact Arts premises in the Gorbals, for sale in the outlet. All profits are to be reinvested in the business, support local people to progress into jobs or education through getting involved with the creation of furniture. Initially developed as a pilot project by Impact Arts through funding from the Department of Work and Pensions in collaboration with Reed in Partnership, Home aims to be a self-sustaining from the start.


A friend has given me Jack Kornfield’s book ‘A Path with Heart’ which is about meditation and inner peace. He is a Buddhist monk and a trained psychologist and he tells great stories with warmth and humanity. I like this passage. ‘True enlightenment and wholeness arise when we are without anxiety about nonperfection. The body is not perfect, the mind is not perfect, our feelings and relationships will certainly not be perfect.’ Elizabeth Kübler-Ross puts it well: ‘I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay.’

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

Best wishes,

To receive this bulletin directly, you can sign up here: