Senscot Bulletin: 30-06-2006

Dear members and friends,

Nostalgic game of golf in Spain last week with old friends on my favourite golf course.  But the competitive edge has gone from me – find myself distracted by the wildlife and sniffing flowers – ‘Smell this pink one.’  By their looks, my friends think I’m going senile.  Lots of familiar faces in the bar – some I’ve known over thirty years of sharing golf and poker and restaurants and night clubs.  Used to be pally with Jeff – hospitalised twice for pancreatitis, but back on the drink.  ‘I couldn’t stand it,’ he said ‘for two sober years I felt apart from the human race; depressed, bored and boring.  If I stick to vodka and soda I don’t get ill.’  Looking round at ‘the boys’ – all in our sixties with florid faces – it seems obvious that there’s a self destructive aspect to the drinking.  But sitting there with my pot of camomile tea I felt no smugness – more wistfulness for the camaraderie of the way it was. The brotherhood of the grape.
 One thing about alcohol – it works.  It may cost you your job or your marriage or your health – but it works.  In the short term it’s more effective than therapy or religion or the love of your partner, which all take time and effort.  But the drink is always ready to go to work at once – more reliable than any friend.  Ten minutes and the little formless fears are gone, or made harmless.  But they come back.  Oh yes, and they bring reinforcements.

I follow closely, wave after wave of ministerial announcements in England about the importance of the Third Sector – social enterprise and the ‘new community agenda’ to engage with citizens at neighbourhood level.  We look out for any sign that this message is being picked up in Scotland – but my sense is that we’re falling further behind.  The Scottish Executive’s recent Regeneration statement was a particularly dreadful document – depicting regeneration as a matter solely for the public and private sectors – nothing to do with local people.  Nor was it a surprise to learn from last week’s Audit Scotland report that Community Planning Partnerships are struggling with community engagement – that it needs to become more ‘sustained, systematic, consistent and effective.’  If I was a politician seeking re-election I’d be concerned that citizens in Scotland feel so remote from the state.

At the ‘Three Sectors Summit’ in London on 22 June, four ministers and the prime minister enthused about how important the Third sector is to their vision of the future for Britain. Of the five, I think Ed Miliband’s speech carried most conviction:

What a great resource the Joseph Rowntree foundation is for our work – the focus and quality of its research, its independence from government. Its last two papers caught my attention – both concerned with people outside formal paid employment. The first (No. 346) concludes that benefit claimants who work for ‘cash in hand’ do so out of need, not greed – that is, in response to poverty – and that punitive measures would have limited success: The second (No. 356) introduces the term ‘co-producers’ to describe the reciprocal relationship between the users of services and the organisations which deliver them. It looks at how we can better recognise the contribution made to their neighbourhoods by people outside paid work and how the government’s full-employment policies would ‘strip-mine’ communities of this resource.

It is a characteristic of entrepreneurs that they see opportunities where others don’t. For instance if you had access to a large number of whisky barrels for the cost of collection – what would you do with them? Must be of social/community benefit. Brainwaves to Pat at the exchange:, 0131 220 4104.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs ( or events ( and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 33 vacancies, incl. posts with: Community Central Hall, Triodos Bank, Fablevision, Forth Sector, Moray Waste Busters, Community Enterprise in Strathclyde, Turning Point Scotland, The OneCity Trust, The Scottish Community Foundation, SACRO

EVENTS: Kilsyth International Carnival, August 13;  CRNS ‘Carpet Recycling Roll Out’ event, Dundee, 23 Aug; Creating Connections – Strategic Campaigning Training, 11-12 Sept, Edinburgh. 

Urgent appeal – Recycle Fife need short term volunteers

DEADLINES: Deadline for this year’s Enterprising Solutions awards is next Friday, July 7. Kibble and Cope both won last year.  There’s a new prize this year for start-ups (running 3 years or less):

learndirect scotland is seeking nominations for champion learners. A shortlist will be invited to the annual Celebration of Learning in September. Details:

Futurebuilders Scotland Learning Fund closes to new applicants on 31 August 2006. To date the Fund has awarded £617,659 to 127 organisations for staff development:

A network member asks: ‘Does anyone have experience of selling information (e.g. handbooks, directories) effectively? While we want to get information out there free to our client group we are also aware of the need to income generate from other sources. Our experience is that selling in publications yields only a small margin and is costly to administer.’ Feedback file:

A new training DVD on developing, managing and working within social enterprises showcases the experiences of successful organisations from across Scotland, and includes practical information plus  advice from support bodies within the social economy sector. For a free copy, contact ` Meanwhile a guide to ‘social added value’, and how measuring this can help organisations seeking further investment, was launched at last week’s ‘Gathering’:

Social entrepreneurs are active all across Scottish public life. Bruce Malone, the head of St Andrew’s Secondary School, Carntyne, has worked a miracle transformation of his school: Su Grierson, President of the Scottish Artists Union, has told the government to think again about its elitist proposals for a Scottish Cultural Academy:

This week’s bulletin profiles Eday Community Enterprises Ltd, in Orkney, which runs the shop on the island. Bought over from a private owner in 1982, the shop provides an extensive range of groceries and also sells items like petrol, diesel and animal feed. It is almost entirely self-sufficient – sales are now more than £250,000 per year, with around 60% of the 127 islanders shareholders in the company.

‘A ship in harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.  The real testament to Columbus is not that he discovered America but that he set off in search of it.  Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature, nor do we humans, as a whole, experience it.  Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure or nothing…’ Helen Keller.

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

Best wishes,


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