Senscot Bulletin 30.07.2004



Dear members and friends,


If Tony Blair leads Labour into the next election – I’ll vote for someone else.  On February 15th last year I was one of 30 million people in 600 cities across the world, who walked for peace.  We were telling our elected leaders to find ways of resolving world conflicts without wars.  The British invasion of Iraq was not in my name – but I still feel the shame of it.  Now Blair must walk.

             Last week’s outburst about the culture of the 1960s was so obviously a distraction – but I can’t help reacting.  Do Blair and Blunkett really believe that the Hippie values of the ’60s had a worse effect on public morality than Thatcher’s promotion of greed?  Personally I was never a Hippie – but I wish I was.  At that time I held many of the traditional values which the ’60s challenged – enabled me to challenge – a kind of liberation.

  If any song conjures that period for me it’s Bob Dylan’s ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ – a displaced and ragged voice – ‘how does it feel to be on your own – with no direction home – like a complete unknown – like a rolling stone.’  But it’s an empowering voice, ‘when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose’ – and by implication you are free to find and follow your own bliss.  If Blair gets back I may become a Hippie yet.  Revisit the ’60s through Dylan’s lyrics. (



Did you see me on telly last Thursday – on Newsnight?  I recorded a brilliant statement earlier ‘on camera’ – about the delayed Action Plan – but it was ‘spiked’ – so my ‘grand appearance’ lasted 18 seconds – but I think that the main message got across – ‘stop dithering’.

            At the end of the piece there was mention of a new ‘Social Economy Unit’ which has us guessing.  At the moment there is a small Social Economy Team in the Executive and another in Communities Scotland – it would make sense to join them up.  A combined Unit could deliver the Action Plan – drive policy development – position Communities Scotland at the heart of things – even deliver the Scottish Futurebuilders Fund.

            Scottish Futurebuilders would have been better managed ‘further from government’ by a new consortium – drawn from the best of our social enterprise sector – but we don’t have another year to spare.  A combined Social Economy Unit in Communities Scotland makes sense – as long as it reports to a strong board of social economy practitioners – folk who have ‘done the business’ – who know what works.  Since the English Futurebuilders fund opened for business earlier this month it has received more than 60 applications with another 300 groups currently processing applications online.



Neville Mackay, who until recently headed up the Voluntary Issues Unit at the Scottish Executive has been replaced by Thea Teale who will take up her new post in September – good luck Thea.  Barbara Phillips who headed up the Social Enterprise Unit at the Department of Trade and Industry in London, has been replaced by Hilary Brown – small firms analyst with the Bank of England.  An interesting appointment!  Good luck Hilary.  A special welcome also to Pat Bowie who joins Senscot next week as Manager of our Exchange.  Pat joins us from Midlothian Council where she has been working as a Community Economic Development Officer.



Successful community regeneration is dependent on the willingness of local people to get involved – serving on committees – providing the ideas and the energy – the leadership – the commitment.  And yet most of these volunteers receive no remuneration whatsoever for their – often very skilled – work.  This is a complex issue but we need to ask whether such local generosity is in fact being exploited.  If this is an issue you think about you’ll want to read Steve Hartley’s views – he wants a minimum level of reward to be set.  (



Confirmation that Ernesto Sirolli has accepted our invitation to do a workshop in Edinburgh at the Quaker Meeting House on Friday 1st October from 1.00 – 5.00pm.    For more information click here

(  We have 40 places, if you want one e-mail



YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice you send. But please send in any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:


JOBS: 56 vacancies, incl: SFHA, Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, Glasgow Media Access Centre, Women onto Work, Midlothian Voluntary Action, West Lothian & Livingston Women’s Aid, Artlink Scotland.


EVENTS: ‘Introduction to the Scottish Parliament and to Lobbying’, Edinburgh, 6 Aug; Amnesty International, ‘Stand up for Freedom’ comedy benefit, Edinburgh, 18 Aug; ‘Exploring the Riches of Social Capitalism’ Edinburgh, 22 Aug; Development Trusts Association Scotland 1st Annual Conference, Inverness, 30 Aug; Strategic Campaigning course, Edinburgh, 12-13 Oct; Social Enterprise Development Training Events, REAP, Moray; What’s on in Ullapool?


For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’ at:   



Are you following the heated debate (in England) about the new Charities Bill – the big issue is whether posh schools provide public benefit or not – and who should decide.  Alan Milburn MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee doesn’t mince words.  ‘At the moment it’s a dog’s breakfast.  There is the Home Office on the one side and the Charity Commission on the other – taking entirely different positions.’  (



This week’s bulletin profiles The Glaisnock Trust in Cumnock, Ayrshire, set up in December 2002.  By the start of 2005 the Centre will provide residential courses in drama, music, visual arts, multimedia, creative writing and enterprise for young people from across Europe.  The Trust is also supporting the development of 10 new social enterprises, with the first, a landscaping business, already up and running.  Further info’: ‘Profiles’ at 



The latest government efficiency review (in England) instructs its Departments, contracting with charities, to ensure full cost recovery and introduce contracts that run for longer periods.  There is also to be a fairer balance of financial risk.  At the moment this applies to central government but they are looking at ways of extending it to local authorities and primary care trusts.  Will the Scottish Executive comply with these instructions?  (



‘In a few years every town, and most villages, will have their own community radio station.  There’ll be a shop front where anyone can walk in and tell about their missing dog or jumble sale.  It will be accessible and instant and a forum for people to meet and join up.  We’ve lost a lot of these forums and community radio can put them back into most communities.’  These are the words of Phil Korbel – head of Radio Regen.  (



A reader sent me the text of the 1995 Schumacher lecture by Karl-Henrik Robert called, ‘The Cycle of Nature’ – where he applies ‘systems thinking’ to how mankind can live sustainably on our wee planet.  This lecture has deepened my understanding of the need to reduce our consumption and to alter our behaviour.  Karl-Henrik Robert is the founder of The Natural Step environmental movement – their website is worth a look –

            ‘So there are three conditions placed on civilisation on Earth.  We cannot take more from the Earth’s crust than is re-deposited again – which is a minimal amount compared with what we are extracting today.  Secondly, we cannot emit more waste products than nature can process.  And, thirdly, we must preserve nature, at least because it is the only large scale net producer of quality.  How can we achieve this?  The bottom line, given these three conditions, is that there must be fair use of resources in order to meet human needs on Earth.  When one billion people are starving whilst another billion are overproducing disposable plastic bags, this cannot be perceived as efficiency or fairness.’  (


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

Best wishes,



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