Senscot Bulletin 26-11-2004



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


Dear members and friends,


My wee cottage is on a big country estate – complete with stately home and lord and lady. Never had much to do with toffs – tend to keep to themselves – but the hunting bill has got them out on the streets. The landed gentry still own huge swathes of our countryside, but a parliament which they don’t own has challenged their right to do as they please on their land – and they are furious. I don’t think the hullabaloo is about animal rights – it’s about the age-old privilege of land ownership – the remnants of a feudal system – it’s about who governs Britain. In Scotland the issue of land reform has gained a foothold. As public support grows, spreading ownership becomes a mainstream political project. It won’t go away now. Dynasties like Buccleuch,  Argyll, Roxburgh, Wemyss etc won’t be part of Scotland’s future.

            Never actually met the lord of our manor, but as I’m doing my wall on Sunday he parks outside my cottage on his way to church. As he walks genially towards me – feel instinct to remove my hat – out of respect. Say to myself, “Whatever you do, Laurence – in the name of all you believe – don’t take off your hat.” But I do – I doff my cap like a good vassal. Hear myself gushing – grovelling – “Splendid, “ he says. I fear the revolution is not safe in my hands.



I’ve downloaded my copy of the refreshed ‘Smart Successful Scotland’ – Scotland’s enterprise strategy.  Its only 30 pages – not too turgid worth a half hour skim. Yes – there it is – explicit commitments to: Regeneration; Strengthening Communities; Closing the Opportunities Gap. So that Scottish Enterprise and Communities Scotland can clarify their respective roles “a memorandum of understanding between the organisations will be developed” – The phrase ‘kick into long grass’ comes to mind but seriously this is the most explicit acknowledgement by Scottish Enterprise of the value and relevance of the Social Economy. If you don’t read anymore, read this paragraph:



Thanks to the clarity and perseverance of SCVO the new Scottish Charities Bill is a better instrument than its English counterpart – because it ‘grasps the nettle’ of spelling out in statute the principles of public benefit.  In England the Home Office, NCVO and the Charity Commission have decided to leave the definition of charitable activity as a discretionary matter informed by case law.  It is now quite possible that posh private schools could be considered charitable in England (because of legal precedent) but not so in Scotland because of ‘unduly restrictive’ conditions on obtaining benefit.  Interesting times ahead!



Depending whose figures you believe approx 1 in 12 of all UK households does not have a bank account of any kind.  All the clearing banks are obliged by the Chancellor to offer ‘basic’ accounts but they don’t want them so don’t encourage staff to sell them.  In fact there are clear indications that poorer people (the subprime market) are being intentionally discouraged from banking.  How can it really take 10 days to clear a benefit cheque?  Speaking at last weeks ‘Politics Show’ Treasury Secretary Stephen Timms said he’d prefer to agree a ‘challenging target’ with the High Street Banks – but that legislation remains a possibility.  These banks make colossal profits.  If they’re not prepared to live up to their social responsibilities, the Government should legislate.  



The Senscot Exchange has been operating since September and our personal response service has dealt with over 70 requests. The website ‘Help Yourself’ facility averages 230 hits per week – signposting a range of document templates – we keep adding new ones.  The Senscot Directory will be online within the next couple of weeks. Over 20 practitioners have offered their services to the Exchange and we will start matching these with potential active accounts early in the New Year.  If you feel the Exchange could be useful to you please contact More about the Exchange:



Last year I looked at a house in Bo’ness, a wee town on the Forth near Falkirk. I see a swish new harbour development is proposed to lead regeneration.



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:


CAN YOU HELP: Parent Network Scotland seeking office premises approx 300-600 sq. ft, Edinburgh area. Prepared to share. PNS employs freelance parent-facilitators to run courses on parenting and family relationships for parents and carers. Contact Heather Gordon, 0131 555 6780


JOBS: 89 vacancies, incl. posts with: Connector, Northwest Economic Network, McSensce, Fresh Start, Social Enterprise Academy, Midlothian Sure Start, the Iona Community, Stewartry CVO


EVENTS: ‘Consuming for good?’ Edinburgh City Council Chambers 8 Dec; Triodos Bank, Evening Celebrating Social Enterprise, Glasgow, 9 Dec; Homing In On… Community Development: are social enterprises and development trusts the answer? Edinburgh, 15 Dec; Finding Out About Energy’, Dundee, 15 Jan 2005



Pat and Colin attended the Cultural Planning event in Glasgow this week. Almost 100 people were at the event with one of the outcomes being a desire to set up the first thematic social enterprise network for the Cultural sector in Glasgow. A provisionary date for the end of January has been set. Other Social enterprise network meeting are already scheduled for Aberdeen on 7th December and Ayrshire 10th January. For further info’, contact



This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire that celebrated its 21st birthday this year. Computers and Integration, founded in 1983, was initially established to promote education and training to disabled and able bodied people in computer techniques. Today, Computers and Integration operates from two centres (Inverurie and Huntly) and provides a range of computing/IT modules as well as having achieved accreditation for delivering European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). In the last year, Computer and Integration has been able to significantly increase its income through selling it services to both the public and private sector in the Aberdeenshire area. For further info see the ‘Profiles’ section of our website:  



A reader has recommended a book ‘The Medici Effect’ Frans Johansson describes how important innovations come from collisions and combinations of different fields.  He calls this convergence the ‘intersection’ His model is the 15th century Medici Banking family who brought original thinkers from many disciplines to Florence – triggering the Renaissance?



A reader emails “You will be aware of the World Economic Forum” which holds a conference in Davos (Switzerland) each year.  An enterprising gentleman called Sesto Castagnoli set up the World Spirit Forum a couple of years ago, as a kind of balance to the Davos event.  The World Spirit Forum ( holds a conference just the other side of the mountain from Davos, in the beautiful Swiss ski resort of Arosa each year at exactly the same time as the WEF event, from 16 – 19 January 2005.



If I were granted one wish – one gift to carry into the rest of my life – I’m quite sure what I would choose.  It would be the ability to still my mind.  Whenever – wherever – to enter the present.

“Enlightenment, Peace, and joy will not be granted by someone else.  The well is within us, and if we dig deeply in the present moment, the water will spring forth.  We must go back to the present moment in order to be really alive.  When we practise conscious breathing, we practise going back to the present moment where everything is happening”.  ‘Peace in Every Step’ Thigh Nhat Nanh.


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

Best wishes,



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