Senscot Bulletin: 23-03-2007

Dear members and friends,

Wandering  recently through the Bread Street area of Edinburgh where I grew up – remembering the old shops – Gray’s the butcher, Rae the grocer, Easiphit, Handy Stores, etc. Our café was the hub of a thriving community, teeming with characters and street life. The neighbourhood has been gouged by a brutal one-way traffic system – the shops and community are gone – sad to see.
 New book called ‘Tescopoly’ tells of the devastation caused by supermarkets. It argues that the arrival of a Tesco Hypermarket means the surgical removal of the economic underpinning of the whole area – the destruction of jobs, choice and even the social glue that hold communities together. At a material level we’re all better off these days than we were fifty years ago, but there has been a cost. Supportive social structures and acts of kindness between citizens have declined.
 I loved the news story last week about the Polish bus driver on the Glasgow-Wishaw route. Apparently he picked up two friends along with their cooker and chest of drawers and on the way through Motherwell diverted his bus to their flat – where he helped them unload. This adventure was reported by passengers and the chap got a warning. I saw him on the 6 o’ clock news – freshly-pressed uniform – respectable, contrite, perplexed – trying to adapt to our more ‘advanced’ culture.

Starting to feel the excitement of our forthcoming election. The usual left/right theme seems irrelevant these days – replaced in my priorities by the centralist/localist issue. I would like our national debate to move forward towards a referendum in 2010 for an independent Scotland. For this reason I am a supporter of the Scottish Independence Convention which draws together all disparate groups and individuals who share this basic democratic objective My particular interest is the transfer of power down to communities and I try to monitor what all the political parties say about this. As a result, I decided last November to join the Green Party. I was delighted to receive through the post a wee lapel badge with squint printing. I love skint, non-slick movements.

Colin, who works the social enterprise networks across Scotland, has been giving attention to the NHS’s huge potential as a market for third sector activity. He says the English are a bit ahead (more government support) and he’s linked up with an old Senscot friend, Chris Dabbs – a pioneer of this work down south. In this interview, Chris gets to some core issues.

The social enterprises which give me the biggest lift are the ones embedded in the communities they serve – owned and cherished by local people. The first time I visited ‘Out of the Blue’ in Leith it immediately felt ‘real’ and it’s been a joy to watch it prosper over the years under the leadership of Rob Hoon. They recently became the first urban recipient of an award under the Lottery’s Growing Community Assets Fund: More urban applicants are being sought for GCA. For info’,

A couple of weeks back, we reported that the Argyll and Bute Social Enterprise Network (ABSEN) is to receive funding from Communities Scotland for a support worker to be located with Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT). The job is now advertised:  Hopefully, the year ahead will see this replicated across the country.

Last week of our annual appeal. Donate online at or send a cheque (and address so we can send you a receipt) payable to Senscot, 54 Manor Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7EH. See  updated list:  Please inform Alison of errors. Final list next week. Thanks again for all your support.

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

JOBS: 20 vacancies, incl. posts with: Isle of Kerrera Residents Association (project for tender), Edinburgh Woodcraft Folk, The Consortium, Perth & Kinross, Argyll & Bute Social Enterprise Network,

EVENTS: 11 events, incl. Developing Community Assets, Glasgow, April 19; SURF Small Town regeneration seminar, Edinburgh, May 15;

Another Senscot friend who is a master of his subject is Alistair Wilson, CEO of London’s School for Social Entrepreneurs. In this interview, he speaks with rare understanding about the nature of social entrepreneurship.

Received Winter edition of VIEW Magazine (No. 7) – a Scottish journal of this standard is a real asset to our sector. I’ve chosen a piece by Stephen Maxwell which sketches the many things our Scottish Parliament has done right.


Deadline today for exhibition stands at the S2S Trade Fair in Perth on 26 April – only 6 left, we hear. Contact Cheryl Hoffman at or on 0131-220-5080. Highlands and Islands Enterprise is offering travel cost support to attendees from H&I based social enterprises. Contact Lucy Morrison: 01463 715533

The Scottish Community Foundation launched a new Community Investment Programme this week. New grants of up to £50k over 2 years are available. One strand will focus specifically on ‘building enterprising communities’ and will be of particular interest to DTAS members:

The Smith Institute has produced a publication examining how barriers to the growth of the social enterprise sector could be overcome. Not read it yet but their stuff is usually good so will be taking a look. Here’s a link 

This week’s bulletin profiles a new addition to the growing cluster of Development Trusts in the Hebridean islands. The Tiree Community Development Trust was formed in March 2006 and is already working on the implementation of a 5 year Development Plan that includes building new affordable houses for rent, creating 20 permanent jobs and making Tiree a 100% renewable energy consuming island with high standards of energy efficiency. This last objective is already underway with the installation of an 850kw wind turbine. The single turbine, owned by the community, is expected to generate revenues for the island’s community of around £100,000 a year. For more info, see

I’m reading an extraordinary book called ‘Why Love Matters’ by Sue Gerhardt. The latest findings in neuroscience and biochemistry show that brain development in a baby – the physical shape of its nervous system – its future emotional well-being – depend on its earliest interactions with its parents. If these are not loving – certain neural pathways will fail to open. Here’s a quote in the book from the writer Adrienne Rich .  ‘I recall the times when, suckling each of my children, I saw his eyes open full to mine, and realised each of us was fastened to the other, not only by mouth and breast, but through our mutual gaze: the depth, calm, passion of that dark blue, maturely focused look.’

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

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available See: