Senscot Bulletin: 21-10-2005


Dear members and friends,

I’m in Spain, but getting here was a nightmare. Arrived at Edinburgh airport yesterday at 2pm for 3.30pm flight, but the plane was broken – replacement didn’t leave till 10pm. 8 hours in poxy terminal – seething rage directed at mobile phone users. Got to Malaga 2.30 local time – car rental desk shut. Only one still open charged me double my internet price. Got to bed at 4.30am, traumatised.
Today I should have been knackered but the light and warmth ‘restoreth my soul’. Writing this on my balcony at sunset with camomile tea. Thinking about the story which a friend told me last week. How he was learning to juggle but couldn’t make progress – losing belief. Plugging away one day, suddenly in a flash he saw the whole thing. For a split second he saw how to keep all five balls in the air. He said that it still took him many weeks of practice to achieve mastery, but from that moment he knew he could go there. This is an important story for me as it keeps recurring – trying to tell me something. I’m wondering if it was like this with the Buddha – sitting under a tree – the sudden revelation of a place beyond fear – and how to go there.
It’s now dark here on this balcony; still quite warm; the smell of pine trees and jasmine; the sound of the sea. Tomorrow I’ll walk the beach with bare tootsies. Next Friday I’ll send you a Spanish story.

England is an estimated 2 years ahead of us in terms of the development of supportive infrastructure for social enterprise; now our Welsh cousins have also started motoring.  When Cardiff based social firm ‘Pack it’ was named European social firm 2005 last week this was the culmination of the impressive commitment of the Welsh Assembly to its Third Sector.
 The Government of Wales Act 1998 has unique statutory provision which ensures that the voluntary sector remains at the heart of Welsh Government policy.  Their recent commitment to 5 year funding packages is one of the fruits of this collaboration.  Compare this to the abysmal consultation in Scotland.  The Welsh launched their social enterprise strategy last June – we asked recently if work has started on the Scottish one – but apparently it’s waiting on the appointment of the promised Social Economy Advisory Group. No one is clear why this has been stuck for a year.  It’s just a different climate up here.  The withdrawal of funding from our Civic Forum is another example.  When our parliament was new there was optimism – but Scottish Labour is contaminated with a centralist controlling culture.

Recent international studies have highlighted Scotland’s culture of murder and violence. Irving Welsh wrote powerful piece in Thursday’s Guardian. Not a comfortable read, but we have to start being more honest about this stuff:

Watched recent awards for philanthropists – same bunch giving each other ‘gongs’ – mostly a cringe – surely no one believes this nonsense.  Rabbie Burns said it true: ‘The man o’independent mind – he looks and laughs at a ‘that.’  But there’s a serious side – we don’t want the USA model of private philanthropy in place of state welfare.  We don’t want basic services dependant on the whim of neo-liberal foundations – let’s not go there.

Sir John Ward, chairman of Scottish Enterprise, says the public sector is too big – likening the state footprint in Ayrshire to ‘Eastern Block levels.’  But Alf Young in the Herald replies that he’s talking nonsense – with a complete lack of historical perspective.  In a well argued piece Alf shows that annual public spending in the UK as a percentage of GDP has shrunk. Alf wonders why Ward is pushing this particular diagnosis of Scotland’s economic condition at this particular time.

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: 88 vacancies, incl. posts with: North View Housing Association Ltd, Badaguish Cairngorm Outdoors Center, Blake Stevenson, Community Transport Association, ProjectScotland, IntoWork, Health Spot

EVENTS: Dr Bells Family Centre, Fundraising event, 28 Oct; Visit Dungavel (Monster of the Glen) World Premiere, 5 Nov; Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, Growing Communities in Scotland, 9 Nov; Holyrood Events, The Rural Economy – Cultivating Ideas, 17 Nov;

Rocket Science has developed a Readiness Assessment Tool, which focuses on practical forward planning for enterprises. The toolkit is now ready to be downloaded via

CAN YOU HELP?: A new ‘Social Enterprise Challenge’ programme is being launched, in which students will make use of their enthusiasm for business in order to assist Scottish social enterprises. Social enterprises are being sought as partners. Details:

SPECIAL OFFERS: Unique venue for a Christmas trip. Re-Union are sailing from Edinburgh Quay from 23 Nov to 23 Dec. Details:

Last week Senscot Exchange asked the Network’s advice about accounting software packages – our thanks to the 6 respondees. See previous feedback files. This week we’ve been asked for information/connections to any readers involved in creating an eco village – preferably working examples:

Govan Law Centre has opened a new Parliamentary Unit to help Scotland’s Third Sector to engage in the Parliamentary process – draft new bills etc.

New Sector magazine has been relaunched as an IPS in full colour as ‘ns – democratic enterprise and community control’.  As well as subscribing individuals and organisations, it seeks 3 or 4 organisations to take 10 or 12 copies each so a strong Scottish voice can be maintained on this UK-wide magazine. You can also become a member by taking a minimum of 200 £1 shares.  Details: Alan Tuffs, Society Secretary, Senscot will be buying 25 copies.

This week the bulletin profiles ‘Badaguish Cairngorm Outdoor Sports Centre’, which provides a special service people with disabilities can visit unaccompanied. Badaguish is run by the Speyside Trust, a local charity set up in 1980 to promote equal opportunity access to the outdoors for disabled people. It has since developed into a mainstream provider of training courses, accommodation and outdoor activity holidays. In 2002, building on its growing reputation, the centre won the national contract to deliver a new leadership-training programme for the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability. For further information see

This week’s end-piece is from Scottish poet Tom Leonard’s ‘Shorter Catechism’ (AK Press 1991).
‘On Tuesday Feb 19 1991, Britain took part in what was at that point one of the most ferocious attacks on the centre of Baghdad using bombers and cruise missiles fired from ships.  John Major said this the next day: ‘One is bound to ask about attacks such as these: what sort of people is it that can carry them out?  They certainly are consumed with hate.  They are certainly sick of mind, and they can be certain of one thing – they will be hunted and hunted until they are found.’ (He was talking about 5lb of explosive left in a litter basket at Victoria Station in London which killed one person and critically injured three).’

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

Best wishes,