Senscot Bulletin: 27-04-2007

Dear members and friends,

Three letters this week rattle my cage.  From the hospital – ‘a day care admission has been arranged for you to have a prostate biopsy’ – here we go again.  From Scottish Power – ‘for the past 33 months we have underestimated your electricity usage by a total of £940.37p’ – still in shock. Then, from the Procurator Fiscal – last December photographed disregarding a red light – already on 9 points – now summoned to court ‘to answer why my licence should not be suspended’ – resigned. If that’s not enough, various projects I’m involved with are bogged down in nonsense bureaucracy – this probably stresses me most – paddling in impotent rage against the current. But being older helps – I’ve run out of puff –  not bothered now – just drifting downstream – curious but not concerned where the boat goes.
 Remarkably – without any help from me – the universe continues to unfold as it should.  The swallows have returned to our barn like last year.  The old pear tree where the woodpecker lives is coming into bloom – as it does.  The rise in temperature got me to the garden centre – planted up my window boxes.  Dahlias of the yellowiest yellow are nodding to me happily in the breeze.  The poet Milosz says that we must learn to look at ourselves the way one looks at distant things: “for you are only one thing among many.  And whoever sees that way heals his heart, without knowing it, from various ills – a bird and a tree say to him: friend.”

The election is hotting up – which party really understands the value of the Third Sector, and local democracy? Stephen Maxwell of SCVO is a good judge and I find his column helpful. “While all main parties recommend a stronger community focus the two leading contestants take strikingly divergent views. Labour’s main interest is in neighbourhood security with calls for community prosecutors operating through community courts, naming and shaming, a power to direct local bodies to use ASBOS and a big expansion of community surveillance. The SNP lays out a wider programme of community empowerment embracing Community Energy Plans, enhanced budgets for Community Councils and a role for communities as ‘co-producers’ of public services.” The SNP also commits to a pilot of ‘empowered community’ status for disadvantaged communities wishing to exercise more control of public spending – a powerful idea which is supported by the Local People Leading campaign.

The Local People Leading campaign now has a website with a contact point for its growing army of supporters – including 150 Senscot readers who’ve shown interest. You’ll see a temporary site but it will be live this weekend. Fellow enthusiasts of community empowerment will appreciate this article by Stan Windass – from 1982!  25 years later it is entirely topical. He argues that the ‘local initiative’ and the ‘enabling council’ need each other.

The Social Economy Unit in Communities Scotland has commissioned three pieces of research. EKOS Ltd will map existing provision to promote start up social enterprises. Rocket Science will report on two areas: present social enterprise activity in key market areas, and the business development support available to SEs in Lowland Scotland. Check out their briefs:

Yesterday’s Social Enterprise Trade Fair in Perth (S2S) had a great friendly atmosphere of deals being done. There will soon come a ‘tipping point’ when this is a ‘must attend’ annual event. The evening before 70 people attended the ‘hustings’ to hear all 5 main parties talk positively about the role social enterprise can play for local communities and for the wider economy. The next challenge will be to ensure that these policies filter down and are supported and implemented at a local level.

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: 29 vacancies, incl. posts with: Forth Sector, Nisus Scotland, Garrison House (Cumbrae) Ltd, PrintAbility Scotland Limited, Almond Enterprises Ltd, ENABLE Glasgow, Nadair Trust & Nadair Support Services, Edinburgh Cyrenians, Wood RecyclAbility Ltd.

EVENTS: 15 events, incl. No Small Matter, Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum seminar on small towns, Edinburgh, May 15; Community Cohesion & the Equality Agenda for the 21st Century, SECC, 24 May;

Assist Social Capital and Time Banks are staging a joint networking event in Stirling next Thursday evening, 3rd May:  

Social Entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus is locked in a bitter battle for control of Grameen Phone, the telecom company he founded – which has 12 million subscribers and employs 5000 people.  His partner, Telenor, denies promising in 1996 when the partnership was formed, that they would relinquish control so that this company could remain a social enterprise.

The administration and finance required to establish an industrial scale wind farm is so onerous that community organisations are being ‘muscled off the ball’ by commercial developers. Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative is trying valiantly to become England’s first community owned farm.

Diane Henderson of Parent to Parent (Borders) is urgently seeking a £15k investment to secure and refurbish a building in Kelso for their new social enterprise – the ACE Centre. The Centre will offer an expansion of Abbey Soft Play as well as provide a café, serviced office space, training/meeting rooms, a community gym and a function suite. Diane has already had help from a number of social enterprises and entrepreneurs across Scotland but only has a month to find the money. Sounds good value for £15k. For more info’, see

Brian Tannerhill and his team at McSense certainly keep the ideas flowing. Their latest is the Charity Utility Initiative (CUI) which offers a complete energy management system for charities, social enterprises and businesses. CUI will support the employment of people with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds:

Back in 2002, the bulletin profiled Rosie’s Café in Aberdeen as an example of a successful social firm. Rosie’s was one of a number of enterprises set up by Aberdeen Social Enterprises, providing training and employment for their service users. This week, we feature the new addition to their portfolio – Rosies-2-Go. Responding to requests from customers, a catering firm supplying quality sandwiches and buffet lunches to companies around Aberdeen was set up with the help of the Futurebuilders Investment Fund. For more info’, see

Al Gore writing about global warming in a piece he calls RISE. “This crisis is bringing us an opportunity to experience what few generations in history every have the privilege of knowing; a generational mission; the exhilaration of a compelling moral purpose; a shared and unifying cause; the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness and conflict that so often stifle the restless human need for transcendence; the opportunity to rise.  When we do rise, it will fill our spirits and bind us together.  Those who are now suffocating in cynicism and despair will be able to breathe freely.  Those who are now suffering from loss of meaning in their lives will find hope.  When we rise we will discover that this crisis is not really about politics at all.  It’s a moral and spiritual challenge.”

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 See: