Senscot Bulletin: 25-03-2005



(Going out weekly to over 2500; searchable archive of bulletins at web-site,


Dear members and friends,


1974 – summoned to appear in Linlithgow Sheriff Court for road traffic offences.  Arrive early – sit in front row – ask Clerk if he will take me first – bad move – thinks I’m being smart – puts me last.  Case after case – Sheriff pompous and self important – archaic speech.  Young guy pleads guilty to fighting – Sheriff asks twice his ‘domestic circumstances’ – he doesn’t understand – I lean forward ‘He’s asking if you are married’ guy turns round to me ‘No,  I live with my ma.’ ‘Your honour’ does his nut.  Tells me to be quiet – that it’s not ‘in my mouth’ to instruct the defendant.

            By the time I get called – we both know that we don’t like each other.  I plead guilty to both charges – he asks if I have anything to say – try to look disinterested – ‘nothing!’  ‘In that case’ says he ‘I fine you the maximum on both charges – now have you anything to say?’  I reply insolently ‘only that I can’t pay’ Titter from the court.  Now he’s raging.  ‘In my court’ he says ‘such people are placed under the supervision of a social worker’ ‘Your honour’ I say with snide smile, ‘I am a social worker.’

            I’m not a social worker – but worked for Edinburgh Social Work Department.  Next day the Sheriff`s office phoned my line manager – I got away with it – but the Sunday Post reported the incident. It wasn’t clever. Years later I was up before the same man – and he remembered me.  For a few terrifying minutes I thought I was going to get the jail for parking.



The social enterprise sector in England has a representative body called the Social Enterprise Coalition (SEC) which receives substantial funding from government. In Scotland we established a ‘sister’ body three years ago – but the Executive refused funding – indeed Scottish Government still won’t use the term ‘social enterprise’. The reason for this is a covert but organised resistance from the dominant municipalist faction within the Labour Party. In spite of this, the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition (SSEC) continues to grow in strength and last week elected a new management committee – a formidable bunch – who won’t ‘go quietly’.  

            Folk ask our staff why we need an SSEC in Scotland when we’ve got Senscot. The reason is that membership of Senscot is only open to individuals – engaged with social enterprise – representing only themselves. But the sector needs a formal body to engage with official policy and political processes. This involves democratic, systematic consultation with colleagues, and the formulation and dissemination of position papers. This is a role which Senscot has carefully avoided – not our bag. Our existing mailing list doesn’t include one politician. We’d like to be hotwired to housing schemes – not Holyrood. We are a founding member of SSEC – its role is complementary to ours. .  



The voluntary sector in England is in the middle of a major spat about the control of the sector’s ICT hub.  Independent consultant David Carrington was brought in to look at things – calls it ‘A sorry and exceptionally time consuming – energy sapping saga’ I’m certainly not gloating – Scotland is not exempt from this kind of self destructive nonsense.  Let us hope that our social enterprise movement can continue to expand by helping each other.



Spent last weekend in Ullapool at a very special wee hotel called the Ceilidh Place.  Felt nurtured by the humanity of its ambience. Original artwork – beautifully stocked bookshop – live entertainment – delicious home cooking – gracious care and friendship from staff.  This wee oasis is the creation of Jean Urquhart and her late husband.  Jean comes over as self effacing – but carries a natural authority.  I was one of 50 guests attending a weekend of reflective chat around the theme of ‘Changing Scotland`.  I flew the social enterprise flag – but would have to say that what we do is still perceived as very much on the margin.  This was my wee speech



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: 69 vacancies, incl. posts with: Community Retailing Network, Machan Trust, Building Brighter Futures, Consultation Advocacy Promotion Service, Greater Easterhouse Community Support Service.


EVENTS: ‘Homing In On…Asset Based Development’, SEDI Event, 5 Apr, Edinburgh; ‘Parental involvement in schools’, Scottish Civic Forum public meetings, across Scotland, April, May; ‘Green Mapping the Future’, CRNS event, 12 Apr, ‘Making Connections Forum: from tenant participation to volunteering and self help’ event, 13 April, Stirling; ‘Education for Sustainable Profits’, interactive workshop event on fair trade, Glasgow; 21 April, Edinburgh;



Love it when  citizens revolt – say to our elected representatives – ‘No – that’s not what we want.’  Midlothian Council wants to remove services from Penicuik Townhall –  Senscot’s Colin Campbell and Wendy Reid from DTA were invited to attend a public meeting called in the building on 14th March, where 200 people crammed in to show their support for the building to revert to community management. A steering group is now being set up to make the Cowan Institute central to the well-being of the Penicuik community once again, possibly as a centre of social enterprise and community regeneration. `Viva Zapata`



One of the most difficult – but rewarding – jobs I’ve had was working with street gangs in North Edinburgh. (Irving Welsh country) This has left me with a soft spot for youth workers – especially those working with ‘difficult to reach’ youngsters – like Mark Kelly’s Subliminal Directions in Fife.  Delighted to hear Mark has scored £30K from Futurebuilders Seedcorn Fund.



The Homeless World Cup is coming to Edinburgh.  The highly successful event will feature teams representing 32 countries from all over the world.  It will be played at the Ross Band Stand in Princes Street Gardens from 20th to 25th July.  It has been moved to Edinburgh because the original venue of New York had to be cancelled due to visa problems.  Conceived and run by Mel Young this annual event shows what ‘the beautiful game’ is really about – and provides solutions to homelessness –



This week’s bulletin profiles one of Scotland’s most successful social enterprises, Campbeltown Wastewatchers Ltd. Set up in 1998 as a community based recycling organisation, it has two main objectives –  to reduce the amount of waste being transported to landfills from the south Kintyre area of Argyll and to provide employment opportunities particularly for people with special needs. Now employing over 20 staff, they also recycle textiles, cans, plastic, and provide confidential shredding services for local businesses. More recently, they have started a kerbside collection and service an increasing number of community recycling points across Argyll. For further info’, see



‘There was an old man who began an orchard upon his retirement.  Everyone laughed at him.  Why plant trees?  They told him he would never live to see a mature crop.  He planted anyway and he has seen them blossom – and has eaten their fruit. We all need this type of optimism.’ Deng Ming-Dao.

‘Do not speak to us of that which could have been.  All that was is all that could have been.  No more – no less.  Let us level our gaze, and move purposefully into today.’ From the book of Ninja.




That’s all for this week – Easter and springtime are powerful metaphors for renewal – ‘Last year is dead, they seem to say, begin afresh, afresh, afresh’.  


Best wishes,



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