Senscot Bulletin 24-02-2006

Dear members and friends,

My Glasgow grandparents had a chiming clock on their mantelpiece – my Nonno winding it every day was a wee comforting ritual.  Recently saw similar one in a curio shop in Linlithgow – went in for a nostalgic look.  The case was very ordinary – but it chimed a cheery ‘St Clemens’ with a quality tone.  Anyway the clock kept popping into my mind so I set off on Wednesday to take another look.  As I approached the shop an unexpected excitement told me to buy it – but it was gone.  I was surprised by the sharpness of my disappointment.  I enjoy living alone but chimes would be companionable.
 Still on Wednesday – arriving home clockless – there’s a car parked at my gate.  Driver has cameras with serious lenses – like a press photographer.  Wee thrill – fame at last – I’ll consent to be photographed unless it’s a tabloid.  He comes smiling towards me – upbeat, animated: ‘Do you know you’ve got a pair of Jays? – I hope you don’t mind me taking photographs’ After a pause I realise he means my peanut birdfeeder.  He’s a ‘twitcher’ – a bird watcher. ‘Yes’ I smile ‘they’re special.’  He’s a round faced enthusiastic man – wants to talk about ‘sightings’ – but I excuse myself.  Jays are shy birds which like to be left undisturbed.  So am I.

I’ve read David Miliband’s speech to the NCVO conference on Tuesday.  He speaks about ‘The serious and damaging power gap’ in the UK and places the Third Sector in the wider context of a national drive ‘to shift power into the hands of individuals and our communities.’  I would love to believe that Miliband’s radical vision is shared by his colleagues and that New Labour’s centralist drift will now be reversed.  It would be a miraculous conversion.  There’s the further complication of how this new localism would play-out in municipalist Scotland – who’ll promote it? McConnell and Scottish Labour are wedded to a culture of centralist command politics.  The Greens and Lib Dem however have consistently supported the localist agenda: Council elections 2007 (with PR) could change the face of the community sector in Scotland. Exciting times!

Communities Scotland has confirmed the membership of the Social Economy Advisory Group which will offer advice about the needs of the sector to the Minister for Communities. The group is both lively and balanced, with at least 4 of them actually running social enterprises. Reading the list cheered me up.

Many of us believe that the GHA is resisting the secondary transfer of its houses to community ownership and we are watching their moves vigilantly. This morning we hear on the radio that a funding gap of £350m is delaying things. Malcolm Chisholm should be in no doubt that any backsliding on this issue will ‘let slip the dogs of war’. Let us remember what he and Angiolina Foster wrote on 29th July, 2005:

My comment that Minister, Johann Lamont, may be too easily directed by officials, elicited a robust testimonial from a reader who knows her. ‘I suspect one of the reasons she is popular is that she does engage with people, is prepared to change her mind once she has heard the evidence, but woe betide anyone trying to pull one over her.’  

This year’s Senscot bulletin appeal has raised £4,078.  85 Readers have contributed. Our sincere thanks. This is the final week of the appeal. Can you help get it up to 100 contributors? See full list

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

JOBS: 49 vacancies, incl. posts with: Albion Trust, Learndirect Scotland, African and Caribbean Network, Greenspace Scotland, Food for Thought Glasgow, HomeAid Caithness, CSV Scotland.

EVENTS: Social Firms Scotland events, March 27 – Glasgow, 28 – Dundee; Edge Upstarts Awards 2006 deadline for entries 31 March; Regeneration & Renewal National Conference, London, 15 – 16 May.

ABCD is the catchy acronym for Asset Based Community Development which is seen by the UK Government as a core part of the local empowerment agenda. In 2003, the guidance on best value was changed in England to enable local authorities to dispose of assets at a discount of up to £2 million, thus enabling some assets to be effectively gifted to the third sector.  In Scotland discounted sales from Councils are still ‘permitted’ by the Executive on a case by case basis and the setting of a fixed threshold continues to drag on. It would be helpful if the reason for this delay could be questioned in our parliament. 

The Scottish Executive has provided a further £5m to its INCREASE programme to support community based recycling projects.  BUT – a Senscot reader has been told that if they establish their enterprise as a CIC with shares, it will not be eligible for INCREASE funding. What are CIC’s supposed to be for?

Wednesday’s Herald’s business section carried a piece about Scotland UnLtd’s level 2 awardees. It’s good to see the mainstream press cover social enterprises.

This week’s bulletin profiles a wider action subsidiary of Ayrshire Housing. Ayrshire Initiatives was established in 2003 to develop and deliver services and regeneration initiatives of benefit to communities in Ayrshire and complementary to the work of Ayrshire Housing. Current activities include a housing support service delivered through a ‘Supporting People’ contract from South Ayrshire Council; a construction employment training initiative; consultancy; and project development and management. A Director has recently been recruited to take forward a business strategy to expand their activities and increase the income generated. This will secure company’s future viability and reduce its reliance on their ‘Supporting People’ contract. For details, see      

Senscot was very sad to hear of the sudden death of Yvonne Lord this week. Yvonne, who until recently worked with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, was a good friend to Senscot. As well as having great energy and enthusiasm for her work, Yvonne stood out as someone who was always prepared to go out of her way to be helpful and supportive, particularly where it was most needed. She will be missed by many people.

Deborah A Miranda is of American Indian ancestry and her poetry explores survivorship.  This poem about bereavement is written from her grief on the death of her lover.  ‘Advice from La Llorona.’  ‘Each grief has its unique side. Choose the one that appeals to you. Go Gently. Your body needs energy to repair the amputation. Humor phantom pain. Your brain cells are soaked with salt; connections fail unexpectedly and often. Ask for help. Accept help. Read your grief like the daily newspaper: headlines may have information you need.  Scream. Drop-kick the garbage can across the street. Don’t feel guilty if you have a good time. Don’t act as if you haven’t been hit by a Mack Truck. Do things a little differently but don’t make a lot of changes. Revel in contradiction. Talk to the person who died. Give her a piece of your mind. Try to touch someone at least once a day. Approach grief with determination. Pretend the finish line doesn’t keep receding. Lean into the pain. You can’t outrun it.’

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

Best wishes,

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