Senscot Bulletin: 26-01-2007

Dear members and friends,

1978/9 I was at Campion House, Osterley, a kind of seminary on the outskirts of London. The regime was designed to ‘test vocations’ – which it did – mine didn’t pass.  I gave it my best shot and for a while I experienced how within a programme of spiritual practice, human consciousness can switch channels – become ‘centred’.
 The one pal I remember from those days is Jerry Flynn – no contact for 45 years – till he phones last September to say he is in town.  Genuine pleasure – we go for supper – do the memories stuff – easing into the stories of our lives.  As it emerges that I no longer practise ‘the faith’ it’s clear that this matters to him – he’s upset.  It’s a tug back to another time – to another me who no longer exists.  When I drop him off he says with feeling “I’ll remember you in my prayers Larry”.
 I struggle now with people, of any creed, who believe they have ‘the truth’ – the mindset of certainty which allows no contradiction.  I prefer companions who are puzzled, searching – who can tolerate ambiguity and contradiction.  These days I don’t ask big questions – just try to observe life in the small field I occupy – alert to “Images of the human that have the breath of life.”  And these are all around us.

Senscot was down in Manchester this week at the Social Enterprise Coalition’s Voice 07 Conference. Speakers gave their views on how the sector could be ‘doing more, doing better’. Ed Miliband talked of the need to demonstrate impact, and acknowledged the sector in turn needs long-term commitment. Oliver Letwin spoke about creating the right vehicles for investment in the sector. The Tories, he said, see social enterprise as a means of improving lives in our most deprived estates where government policies of the last three decades have failed. The conference ended with Health Minister, Ivan Lewis committing £73m towards the development of social enterprises in health and social care.
Also, word on the street was that the long-awaited Strategy for Scotland is due to come out in March.

Investment in social enterprise in England is gathering momentum. Last week their Adventure Capital Fund, with a proven track record, expressed interest in distributing the new £30m assets fund announced by the chancellor in December.  Also last week their Futurebuilders Fund extended the scope of its investment.  Scotland is falling further behind.  Could some MSP ask how much we invested in social enterprise last year – from Scottish Enterprise – SIS – private sector – executive programmes – the lot? Are there consequential payments to Scotland for any of these exciting English initiatives? And if so, how are they being spent?

S2S, the Scottish National Trade Fair for Social Enterprise, will take place on 26th April in Perth Concert Hall. Senscot will be there to help grow this event into an annual celebration of all our sector has to offer. Senscot’s stall will offer a shop window for any social enterprise in our network which can’t afford its own pitch. More on this later. To book you own stall, see
S2S is hosted by the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition (SSEC), whose CEO Antonia Swinson has written a strong piece in the current Social Enterprise magazine – on the extent to which politicians in Scotland ‘get’ the social enterprise idea.

Lots of interest in ‘Local People Leading; the campaign for strong and independent communities’ which is being led by the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS). The campaign aims to raise the profile of the community agenda in Scotland, and everyone who registers interest at this link will be kept informed of developments   LPL has secured some funds to help progress this work during the initial stages. A part time development worker, based with DTAS, will take up post shortly.

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: 23 vacancies, incl. posts with: Edinburgh Cyrenians, Re-Union, Toonspeak Young People’s Theatre, Carr-Gomm Scotland, Blake Stevenson, Bridges Programmes, Poverty Alliance, SCVO

EVENTS:16 events, incl. Calyx Project community fun day, 4 Feb, Perth; Social Added Value Information Session, Inverness, Feb 14; Assist Social Capital networking evening, 22 Feb; Doing the Business – Community Food and Health Scotland, Dunblane, 27 Feb.

Each year in January and February we invite donations from readers towards production of this bulletin. If your contribution is £25 or more, you will also be included (as an individual) in Senscot’s register of company members. This entitles you to vote at our AGM and to stand for election as a Director. Company member subscriptions are renewable yearly. You can donate here or send a cheque (and address, so we can send a receipt) payable to Senscot, 54 Manor Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7EH.

It’s a common aspect of community development that one organisation will emerge as the anchor – as the focus of local energy and hope.  It can be almost anything – a church, a youth club, a social enterprise – etc.  Excellent article in the Guardian about the Knowle West Media Centre which fulfils this role in a Bristol estate with more than its share of social problems.

Senscot Network member Jane Cotton sends us a terrific online graphic explaining how the Single Transferable Voting (STV) system will work in May’s local elections. Moray Youthstart has developed it to encourage young people’s participation in the democratic process. Moray Council has adopted it, and a number of other local authorities are showing interest.

This week’s bulletin profiles a subsidiary of a Housing Association tackling wider action and other community led initiatives in the Scottish Borders. Eildon Enterprise Ltd, delivers the Borders Care and Repair contract with Scottish Borders Council as well as a range of other services to local Development Trusts and other social enterprises. These services include assistance with feasibility studies and business plans; training on finance, employment issues and health and safety; and provision of maintenance contracts for community owned properties. For more info’, see

The Chilean poet Maria Eugenia Bravo Calderara wrote about her imprisonment and torture during the 1974 Coup.
“You may not know this; the ones who have gone like Orpheus down to the regions of hell, have a bond between tem, much stronger than blood. These people, holding in past agonies, have learned to build their own happiness, little by little. You’ll know them, a certain tiredness around eyes that are smiling; the way they laugh, the whole of life in their laughter, all in its terrifying brightness on the border with death. No one can laugh like them. They know they’ve lived on. And now listen to me well, hear what I say: they are the only people who know the way to Paradise.”

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 at Word Power, 43 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. See: