Senscot Bulletin: 30.01.09

Dear members and friends,

 It can hardly be a coincidence that so many of my favourite writers – Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Chandler, Raymond Carver etc – were more or less alcoholics.  I often ponder the relationship between creativity and self destruction.
 Sigmund Freud originally held all human behaviour to be driven by a ‘life force’ – which he simply called the pleasure principle; but he realised that this couldn’t explain self harming activity – so he changed his model.  The pleasure principle keeps us on the move – ducking and diving – non stop.  Yet the goal of all motion is to be still – satisfied – at peace.  Freud came to believe that ‘‘under’’ and ‘‘beside’’ the instinct for life – we all have the urge to return to the nothingness before life began – he called it a ‘‘death drive’’.  Mostly unconscious, this drive rarely surfaces as simple suicide – but it explains our attachments to self damaging behaviour.  When I think of the amount of alcohol I consumed over 25 years, its difficult to see it as other than a determined effort to destroy myself.  The enemy within.
 Robert Burns – much celebrated this week – drank like a fish – scattered bastard weans across Scotland with rare abandon – and died young.  Yet he is easily our greatest poet – a global inspiration for the dignity and freedom of the human spirit.  Could someone explain to me how this works.

Last week, the Welsh Assembly became one of the first public bodies to advertise a tender reserved only for organisations employing people with disabilities – well done Wales. There are many jobs needing done – which of their nature are not suited to the profit motive – the Scandinavians have shown that – the care of our wee ones and our old people is better trusted to third sector co-ops. Mobilising local people to deliver their own services is much better value for our taxes – and it strengthens communities. There are many instances when the market – the private sector – delivers poor value. Nicola Sturgeon has just sacked them from cleaning our hospitals – and is trying to get hospital parking back from some spivs.  In Scandinavian countries, the third sector delivers around 20% of public services – in the UK it’s less than 3%. 

Scottish Govt has announced its decision to `disband` the Community Voices Network (CVN) thus ending direct formal links with Scotland’s extensive community sector. CVN was never really a community voice – nor meant to be – and its removal clears the way for Scotland’s community activists to create their own independent process – work in hand by Local People Leading.  

Scottish Govt has three new strands of Third Sector investment, and the `middle one` – the Enterprise Fund – is almost ready to run. EF has £12m – will make around 200 awards (average £60k) – “to enable a `step change` in organisational capacity”. In my opinion the EF investment strategy is clear – and the dedicated team of civil servants seem better prepared than was the case with Futurebuilders Scotland. The test, as with the other two funds, will be how the money flows. The EF`s updated strategy goes live today. See FAQs including link to strategy. 

Scotland (briefly) had a differentiated social enterprise strategy – and Jim Mather (the Minister) wants us to be “world leaders in social enterprise”. Why then has his administration merged our fledgling sector back into the generic Third Sector? Senscot has asked the Govt to clarify the official position. As Muhammad Yunus has been saying for years – the major impact of social business, in the long term, will be on the private sector – not on what we used to call the voluntary sector. Social enterprise is a mutation of Capitalism. Our leaders don’t see this.

The Bulletin is a free service but until the end of February, Senscot will continue to invite subscriptions and donations. The attachment gives details and lists our supporters for 2009. See

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: incl. 10 posts with Impact Arts (, Community Woodlands Association, Printability Scotland Ltd, CRNS, Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, CVS Inverclyde, Voluntary Arts Scotland
EVENTS:  Getting Started with Videoconferencing, Prescience Communications, 26 Feb; Fit for Purpose, Senscot, 3 Mar; ‘Surviving Recession’ Business Forum, SSEC, 3 Mar; CRNS, CRNS 4TH Annual Conference & Awards, 10 Mar; Stress Awareness at Work, Fife Employment Access Trust, 13 Mar

NETWORKS 1st News: Members of both Glasgow and Edinburgh SEN have been getting good press recently. Last week saw Impact Arts advertise 10 new staff members on the back of a successful bid to the Inspiring Scotland fund This week, The Melting Pot is in the news with a great article in the Scotsman about how it’s on target to be self-sufficient by 2010 . See more, Network News,

Have you heard yet about the Convention on Modern Liberty – a one day gathering on 28th Feb in London – with simultaneous meetings around the UK. Already over 100 speakers have confirmed (better bring sandwiches). The Scottish event will be hosted by NO2ID and Strathclyde Yooni. I’ll be there. See details and full list of speakers

New Start magazine has discontinued its weekly format – which I think is a sad loss. They’re concentrating on their website with new blogs. Interesting piece this week from Mike Finlayson (Director of Forth Sector) on how the recession could actually be an opportunity for growth. See Mike’s blog,

Senscot has been doing weekly project profiles since 2002. We are aware that many of these need updated and, already, a number of organisations have been sending in refreshed profiles. If you’d like to do likewise, contact  See all profiles

This week’s bulletin profiles a community-run venue in Glasgow that provides a range of facilities for the communities of Easterhouse, Barlanark, Wellhouse and Kildermorie. The Glenburn Centre’s services include a community café, catering for family events such as christenings, birthdays etc as well as for corporate clients. The Centre also has various function rooms available for hire.  See more,

Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture, which I enjoyed so much, has won this year’s Costa Book of the Year Award. The Costa chair, Matthew Parris, revealed that the judges felt the book has flaws – and no-one likes the ending – “But in Roseanne McNulty a narrator has been created of such transcendence that that redeemed all the other structural weaknesses.”
Here’s another snippet from Roseanne: “My memories and my imaginings are lying deeply in the same place. One on top of the other like layers of shells and sand in a piece of limestone, so that they have both become the same element and I cannot distinguish one from the other.”

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

Best wishes,

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