Senscot Bulletin: 22-10-04



Dear members and friends,


I remember as a boy, watching stonemasons build a random rubble wall. It seemed marvellous – every stone – whatever shape and size – its own exact place. The random stones – the solid wall – became the metaphor for our work. The random folk who come forward can become a community. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.  A place for all in the wall.

            Our simple mundane lives contain enough – if we do.  If I contained enough I’d be a Buddhist monk – serenely peeling the spuds. Most of us feel we need more – a cause – something bigger than ourselves. So we go in search of the Holy Grail.

            When I worked in Wester Hailes, Old Peter, a retired miner, watched me for ages – checking – challenging. Then one day he said “Our leaders should come from among ourselves. You are from outside but you need us as much as we need you. That’s ok. I don’t know what drives you, son, but I hope you find it.” For all the years – and passion – I spent in that community – still not sure what I was looking for – except some kind of belonging. In my journal at that time is this quote: “Having nothing to love at home, they locate their love elsewhere, in other lands where their fervour astonishes the natives”.



Communities Scotland annual report has been published for 2003/4 informing us that they hit all nine targets set by ministers. In a week when the executive simply abandoned a whole slew of targets which were “too optimistic” – we are entitled to wonder how useful these target games are. As someone who worked closely with the regeneration sections of Communities Scotland last year it certainly didn’t feel to me that they hit all their targets.

But CS are now half way through a new year – with new leadership. Things are on the up – with a new Social Economy team preparing for Futurebuilders Scotland. In England Futurebuilders has already received 300 applications (they expected more) of which 34% are from organisations with a turnover of under £100k. Only 18% of applications are from organisations with £1m plus turnover. This has surprised everyone and will probably be the issue in Scotland too – which organisations will get the dosh.   



For a long time I thought of ‘Social Capital’ as one of those fashionable jargon words – best avoided. But it keeps coming back – and now I use it comfortably to mean the vitality and mutual support in communities which result from our work. Colin who studies Social Capital has assembled seven different definitions. Strikes me no single definition works.



The Scottish Government has identified Community Planning as the key policy for the regeneration of disadvantaged communities across Scotland. Everyone realises that the success of CPP’s will depend on whether or not they can capture the imagination and energy of the folk who live in Partnerships areas.  The annual conference of the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forums (SURF) on Nov 1st has adopted the theme of ‘leadership and Community Planning’ and one for the discussion groups is about ‘Supporting leadership in the Community’.  If you are a local person involved with the new CPPs this is a conference yours should try to get to. There are some free places and discounts for voluntary community folk. For more info contact



Brian Tannerhill is trying to draw people together to establish a Scottish National Social Enterprise. In my opinion his idea needs adapting – but I admire Brian’s willingness to have a go while plenty folk (like me) criticise. There is a meeting this Monday 25th October at 7.30pm in Mayfield Inn, Mayfield. Senscot will be there.



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: 63 vacancies, incl. posts with: SCVO, Glasgow Braendam Link, Gift, SACRO, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council, CVS Falkirk, Re-Union (chair)


EVENTS: Social Firms Scotland seminar “Legal Structures for Social Enterprises”, Aberdeen, 29 Oct; CHE Facilitation Skills Course, Linlithgow, 29-31 Oct; ‘Toxic Tour’ – Scottish Women’s Environmental Network, 3 Nov; Edinburgh Green Drinks, 5 Nov; Community transport – management sessions, Manchester, 9-11 Nov; BTCV courses, Nov, Dec; SCVO/STUC Partnership Forum & EQUAL good employment practice conf., Glasgow, 12 Nov; INCREASE programme launch events, 17 Nov; Purchasing Power – should charities intertrade? SEDI event, Edinburgh, 23 Nov; EDAS 5th annual conf., Edinburgh, 24 Nov; Social Enterprise Coalition, 1st UK conf. for social enterprise, 25 Jan, Manchester.



Three funding streams for community based organisations which you may want to check out:


The INCREASE programme for community based recycling; the funding strategy for the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland (still going under the name ‘The Community Fund’ for the moment) for this financial year (2004); and the funding priorities for the Tudor Trust for the next 6 months,



A new think tank has been launched in Scotland to tackle regional disparities and improve the quality of policy making for regeneration and economic development. Backed by £1m from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, the Centre for Public Policy for the Regions (CPPR) – aims to become a major Scottish and European hub of debate about the regions and changing governance at national, regional, municipal and community levels. Former Scottish social justice minister Wendy Alexander who attended the launch of the think tank described the new institute as the ‘Alka-Seltzer’ which would remove the ‘hangover’ and ‘mood of disappointment’ that had hit Scottish politics.



This week’s bulletin profiles Coalfield Community Transport (CCT), launched in May 2002 for community and voluntary groups in the East Ayrshire Coalfield Area. CCT provides its membership with affordable and accessible transport so they can take part in community activities and access services and jobs. CCT operates a fleet of five minibuses 7 days a week, 363 days a year. Currently the initiative has 159 groups in membership, 179 volunteer drivers; taken 2500 group transport bookings and carried in excess of 30,000 passengers. Sheila White Director of CCT has been invited to give a presentation on ‘Transport and Social Exclusion’ at this year’s National Community Transport event in Manchester on 9-11 November. Further info:   



The philosopher/poet Frank Kafka once said “You don’t need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait.  You need not even wait, just learn to be quiet, and still and solitary”. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet”. This sounds great – but it’s not my experience. I find it almost impossible to quieten the chatter of my mind. Many years ago I asked a Cistercian monk – a truly spiritual man – “In a single day – for how long are you able to still your mind – to be truly in the presence of God?” He thought for a bit “On a good day” he said “about 10 seconds.” That made me feel better.


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

Best wishes,



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