Senscot Bulletin 28-03-2003


MARCH 2003


Dear Members and friends,


In bad weather the overdeveloped coast of southern Spain is
a dismal cowp.  If I’ve got to have
Scottish weather, I want it in Scotland where the infrastructure can cope
(usually).  Got back Tuesday to glorious
spring day – letter awaits from hospital with results of my MRI scan (taken 6
weeks ago).  The ‘wear and tear’ in my
neck is called cervical spondylitic myelopathy.  I’m now referred to a surgeon for an ‘assessment’.  Doctor friend says, ‘Don’t let any surgeon
near your neck – it’ll end in tears.’ 
Tell my GP this. ‘If your condition requires surgery Mr Demarco, you’ll
know it when the time comes.’ What does he mean, ‘When the time comes’?  In these matters I’m not very brave but
spend two hours on the Internet researching my new ‘opathy’. Learn that the
channel the spinal chord passes through has narrowed in my neck.  Some nerves are being squished.  Gradually conjure mental image of brave,
dignified, old guy, incontinent in wheel chair.  Anne shouts through from the kitchen ‘What a bloody mess – it’s
your turn to wash up.’  Doing dishes
think to myself – ‘I suppose if you can’t walk – folk would be more sympathetic
about housework and stuff like that.’



Senscot is currently changing our web provider. This means
we will have delays/difficulties receiving your e-mails from yesterday until
after the weekend. For the same period our web site functioning may not be
100%. Apologies for any inconvenience.



Senscot has been invited by the Scottish Executive to attend
an ‘implementation seminar’, about social economy policy, in Perth at the end
of April. My first reaction was, ‘pleased to be asked’ – then I wondered about
the principle of the ‘invited’ group – the inevitable exclusion of others. My
considered view is that, 5 years ago, before the Scottish Parliament, it would
have been unthinkable that civil servants would open this process to ‘the likes
of us’. It would be interesting to look at ways of broadening the base of such
consultations but the Perth gathering is a clear step forward. As Brian Clough
famously said, “Democracy is fine as long as I’m one of the folk democking.”



As we mentioned last week the development of a Scottish
Social Enterprise Academy has been re-activated. During negotiations the
potential funders have asked for more evidence of market demand for such an
academy and we’d be grateful to hear from any of you who would consider
enrolling in an action/learning programme designed specially for social
entrepreneurs. If you would like to discuss this, call Aidan Pia at 0131 220



Last week, the Social Enterprise Coalition UK (SEC)
confirmed the appointment of Jonathan Bland as its CEO and the achievement of
450k core funding over 3 years from DTI (to be matched). Bland did a marvellous
job establishing Social Enterprise London and its difficult to imagine a better
appointee. We can expect a fast and impressive roll out of this new agency to
become the UK sector’s main conduit to and from government.

The Coalition has a UK-wide remit
and Martin Meteyard attends from Scotland (as Chair of the new Scottish
Coalition). The Scottish Coalition has a policy development meeting on 8th
April and it will be interesting to watch how it develops relationships – with
London – with the Scottish Executive – and with the Scottish sector in general.
Senscot is a founding member of the Scottish Coalition.



The Government launched the official consultation document
last week for the proposed Community Interest Companies (CICs – pronounced
kicks). They say ‘consultation’ but there were no less than 7 ministers at
Wednesday’s ceremony including Gordon Brown, David Blunkett and Patricia
Hewitt, and they don’t do that on a ‘maybe’ item. The document is available,
along with some background, on our site at  Senscot has picked up a variety of responses
to this proposal and the sector in Scotland would benefit from a ‘get together’
to discuss the pros and cons. Maybe this is something the Scottish Coalition
could co-ordinate.



NOTICES: See ‘Listings’ at
for more on these and other items and job vacancies. If you have a relevant
notice you’d like posted, send it to


Workwithus and Scottish Enterprise are running series of
ebusiness workshops tailored for the vol. sector, from beginning April to
mid-June, throughout Scotland: Stirling, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Fife,
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries & Galloway, Borders, Aberdeen and Dundee.
or tel Lynne Borthwick, Event Admin, 0141 572 3811.


Transforming Your Space’- new funding programme for:
improving local environments; public green and open spaces; local access;
community gardens; community asset sustainability; applic forms/ info Contact
Iain Roxburgh, 0141 222 5636,


More rural web links. See ‘strengthen your community’
section, and then the ‘community websites’ link at



This week’s profile is a media training project based in
Stirling. Active since 1992, Central Action has recently become independent
after some years as part of the CSV network. It’s also become a company limited
by guarantee and a registered Scottish charity. Income is generated through
Forth Valley Enterprise, Landfill Tax Trusts, Coalfields Regeneration Trust as
well as a loan in January 2003 from Social Investment Scotland. The project’s
work centres on the Liveline community broadcast service which offers free
radio publicity on Central FM to charities and community organisations
throughout Forth Valley and to the production of the Stirling and Falkirk Green
Diaries. Central Action is also involved in other environmental publications
and is currently developing an exciting new project, Forth Futures – a new
environmental magazine for the Forth Valley. More: (Project Profile).



Thanks for the 20 odd of you who sent e-mails of support for
Senscot. Your comments are posted (discreetly) at
We hope that more of you will send a few lines.



Personally I’ve always supported the housing stock transfers
– as a way of easing the municipal stranglehold over our poorer
communities.  Much heartened by the
Executive determination to prosecute this policy reflected in the latest
announcements about housing and regeneration allocations. (
To those who claim local government is being devalued – I reply that 30 years
of our one party Labour State had already achieved this. 

It suits elected members to have a
passive electorate – and this is one target they have hit – interest in local
democracy has never been lower. You’ve still got 10 days to register as a
candidate for May 1st’s local elections. See in the press that
footballing legend Billy McNeill’s standing. Eric Caldow too, and lots of
single-issue candidates. Are any communities putting candidates forward? Let’s
liven things up.



Anne & I don’t go to the cinema much but rain in Spain
took me to see ‘About Schmidt’ (English with Spanish subtitles).  Although the film makes concessions to mass
audience appeal, masterful performance by Jack Nicholson as sad lonely and
angry 67 year old.  I rarely feel
lonely, but strongly identified with this character.  Anger is a primal energy that can drive our engines – but it’s a
volatile fuel which can burn the house down. 
Schmidt’s anger threatens to drive him into isolation.  I always assumed that as I grew older – that
impatience would mellow.  The opposite
is true – people increasingly drive me daft. 
Either the behaviour of the entire human race is deteriorating, or I’ve
got an attitude problem. I’ve often thought I might end up in a monastery –
said so to Anne recently “What would they want you for?” she said.  She’s right of course. A spondylitic OAP.  So the monastic option for my endgame
strategy is eliminated.  You remember
the old guy in “Local Hero” who lived in a shack on the beach?  That’s my current strategy.


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

Best wishes,




If you would like to receive this bulletin directly, e-mail