MEMBER’S BULLETIN No. 188, FRIDAY 25th JULY 2003
Dear members and friends,
On Thursday I visit Wester Hailes where I worked for 20
eventful years. Looking back I’m
astonished by our sheer energy. In
spite of no proper budget, our organisation recycled 12 double classroom units
into the area. The council didn’t
believe it would happen until it was too late.
The first one we tried hit a bridge and collapsed. When after many adventures we got one built
– someone burned it down. At that time
our spirit could have faltered – but the opposite happened. Spontaneously residents arrived with brushes
and shovels to help us clean up. The
boldness of our failures seemed to fuel local determination to ‘go’ again. And we did.
We learned where to find huts – to move and erect them. To fit them for different uses. As they went up, local people moved in –
dozens of wee social groupings sprouted – slowly a spirit of community was born
– took root.
The folk I
met last Thursday are building on this – making it their own. One woman, early 30s catches my attention –
shining eyes. I feel an old excitement
– I recognise her look – the new realisation of her own inner power. These are the special ones who can carry it
forward. If I was still a community
worker…Wander for a while around area – remembering so many old friends and
colleagues – where they lived – our struggles – victories. Our camaraderie. Over the rooftops I suddenly see the Pentland hills in bright
sunshine. A half remembered line, “The
days run away like wild horses over the hills.”
It is increasingly obvious that Government policy in England
is determined to steer huge chunks of public service delivery towards the
social enterprise sector. This will not
happen to the same extent in Scotland mainly because our current crop of
politicians is under the control of the Scottish Labour Party which in turn is
influenced by the municipal power brokers.
Politics apart it is an interesting question whether the move into
public service delivery is a good one for our sector and, two articles debating
this issue are worthy of your attention this week. Julian Dobson reports
interesting snippets from both sides of a debate in Yorkshire (http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/dontcelebrate.asp)
and Barbra Wallace’s think piece (http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/TallOrder.asp)
will reward your time. Both question
our sector’s “lazy deference to the alleged strengths of the market” and Helen
McCarthy, researcher with think tank Demos, argues that the sector needs to
retain its independence. ‘A healthy
democracy requires a rich multi-layered area outside the state where dissent
can exist. Advocacy and campaigning
involve directly challenging government policy.’ Viva Zapata!
The Scottish Executive’s consultation process on Developing
the Social Economy keeps moving forward.
The seven strands identified in Perth at the outset (http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/SETopics.asp) have been followed up with meetings, and
ideas for action have emerged. The next
step will be a meeting in August of the leaders of the various strands in order
to assess and prioritise the various proposals. The resultant Action Plan may then be tested at a larger forum
(Perth again?) before presentation to minister by the end of September.
Our congratulations to Claire Brady and CBS Network on the
publication this week of their mighty impressive “Social Enterprise Development
and the Social Economy in Scotland.” So
far I’ve only had a half hour browse but this appears a most comprehensive,
up-to-date and informed analysis of our sector. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to get up to speed. More comment when we’ve had time to read it
properly. Electronic version is at http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/SocEntSocEconJul03.asp).
Readers often tell us that they intend to send a cheque
towards the cost of the bulletin but somehow… it sometimes doesn’t happen. Now you can send a donation sitting at your
computer by using our credit/debit card pay page. New readers please ignore – But if you’ve been enjoying the
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YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every
notice you send. But please send in any relevant items and we’ll post it on our
site (Send in your items to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jobs: 34 vacancies, including posts at Re:solution, SCVO,
The Poverty Alliance, Collinton Community Compost, Lochaber Environmental
Group, Novas Ouvertures and Shelter Scotland.
Info Bank: ‘On the
home front: Improving the Housing Environment and Delivering Sustainable
Communities.’ ‘Developing People – Regenerating Place: Achieving Greater
Integration for Local Area Regeneration’; ‘Charities and Not-for-Profits: A
Modern Legal framework’;
Events: Volunteer Development Scotland: “Partners in Volunteering”
Awards (entry deadline 26 Sept); ‘How to build successful social enterprises’
conference, Heriot Watt, Edinburgh, Oct 16 2003; ‘Improve it: social auditing
to win business’ event, 29 Apr 2004.
For details on these and more: http://www.senscot.net/LD/Yellow/YellowFrontPage.asp
As mentioned last week Alan McGregor’s new research
remeasuring the social economy in Scotland is at the polishing stage. Chris Higgins, a senior policy maker at
Highlands and Islands Enterprise, informs us that the equivalent HIE study was
published a year ago and that the findings were ‘startlingly similar’ to what
is emerging from the McGregor study.
The study is at http://www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/HIE-socialeco-may2002.pdf.
Another bit of Alan McGregor’s work which is causing some controversy. In it he says, “The greatest contribution
National Government could make to move effective joint working would be to sop
the introduction of new initiatives and the constant tinkering with the rules
of existing programmes.” Developing
People – Regenerating Place – www.jrf.org.uk
In the Guardian Weekend magazine on Saturday I read a piece
about the latest in electronic tagging.
It seems that, ‘At the Tesco Cambridge store, a camera trained on the
Gillette blade shelf, and triggered by the tags, captures a photo of each
customer who removes a Mach3 pack.
Another photo is taken at the checkout and security staff compare the
two images to ensure they always have a pair,’ the article explains that this
system enables the store to blacklist certain shoppers and keep an eye on them.
This week’s project profile is a social enterprise based in
Edinburgh, but providing a service throughout Britain. BabyG.R.O.E. is an informative
directory, backed up by a website, designed to provide for new or expectant
parents both conventional advice and also advice on complementary,
environmentally sound and ethical products. This is done through an annual
brochure supplied to every hospital in the country (over 600,000 copies).
BabyG.R.O.E. is the brainchild of Lynoa Cochrane and Susan Oak who, as young
mothers themselves, were aware of the lack of such information and set out to
do something about it. Helped by a grant from Scotland unLTD, BabyG.R.O.E.’s
success has triggered huge interest and, as a new enterprise, Lynoa and Susan
are looking for volunteer support, particularly with admin, to keep up with
demand. Further info: http://www.senscot.net/LD/Profiles/MenuTEST.asp
E-mail on Tuesday contained a quote by someone called
Margaret Mitchell, “Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realise what a
burden it was or what freedom really is.” – I was reminded of an afternoon in
1968 when I decided to go bankrupt. I’d
battled for months and now I couldn’t go on.
In the event the calvary arrived in time and I was able to trade on, but
I’ll never forget that afternoon of intoxicating freedom. Then last night I read a line I’d scrawled
in a book……….”Very late in life I learned to lose my way in the forest.”
Can’t recall when or why I wrote that but now it keeps
repeating in my mind. Is it something to
do with losing who we are to find a new self?
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.
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