Senscot Bulletin: 30.08.13

Dear members and friends,

I was an impressionable child – given a thorough grounding in guilt and shame – from a Catholic church fixated on sin and fear (the consequences of its institutional denial of sex are still unravelling).  The emancipation of the 1960s enabled me to explore my own values – to re-examine right and wrong; but the overarching predisposition of shame – of being unworthy – has never really left me.  As a result, I’m resistant to all manner of moralists – the peddlers of guilt.
The Scots writer William McIlvanney takes the opposite view – that we need to experience more, not less guilt.  In any society, bad things don’t happen in isolation, he says, everything connects; scapegoats are an illusion – no one is innocent.  Our guilt is an expression of our humanity; to disengage from each other is to lose ourselves.  The American writer Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) was certainly no moralist – served time for drugs – but he also respected conscience: “There are shames we can never reason away – though we look back and pile reasons over them, forty dozen deep.  And maybe those are the shames we should never reason away.”
He seems to be saying that guilt is an essential part of the human condition – that only its absence is shameful.  While my mind understands this – there’s a deeper part of me which doesn’t; when shame visits, I still struggle to distinguish between the healthy version – part of humanness – and the morbid obsession – the shame that eats souls.

We still have copies of ‘Kindness’ – Laurence’s latest selection of bulletin intros (2007-12). If you’d like a copy, see

A few years ago I got interested in Compass; originally a Labour party pressure group – it opened its doors to all-comers on the democratic left – to ask what the ‘good society’ of the future would look like.  I went to a few London gatherings – thought about investing energy in a Scottish branch – but decided I’d rather wait for the emergence of a progressive left platform from within Scotland.  The Jimmy Reid Foundation’s (JRF) Commonweal campaign is looking more and more likely to fit the bill.  I notice this week that Compass Scotland has formed a relationship with JRF to help develop the Commonweal agenda and that a growing number of Scottish ‘kent faces’ are adding their momentum; me too.  Neal Lawson – chair of Compass – writes that he envies Scotland’s opportunity to be a beacon for the future.  See,

I can’t think of anything that might dissuade me from voting ‘yes’ next September; the prize of self-determination dwarfs all other considerations; in moving us towards independence, the SNP has done a major service to this country.  But in the parallel task – of transferring power from the centre to our communities – they are far less convincing.  On their watch, the following services have passed from local to central control: Police, Fire, Children’s Panel, Social Work Inspection, Economic Development, Tourism, Criminal Justice, and Strategic Planning. 

During the 13 month period following its ‘Peoples’ Assembly’ – the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) held a series of round tables to ‘get into the meat’ of the proposals which came forward to improve our system of democracy.  They called this the Democracy Max Enquiry.  This week, ERS brought all this work together in their ‘Vision of a Good Scottish Democracy’ report.  Check out the key recommendations here.  See,

Those of us who labour in the community sector are well aware how remote our world is from the mainstream; when explaining what we do, we can sense the gulf.  The Scottish mainstream recognises Lesley Riddoch as a journalist and social campaigner at the top of her game; yet she also understands our world.  It’s difficult to overstate how helpful this is for our cred.  Riddoch has a new book, ‘Blossom: what Scotland needs to flourish’.  Reading it makes me feel proud to be part of the spirit of ‘some of the most stubborn, talented, and resilient people on the planet’.  Here’s Lesley’s own blurb – I’ll offer my comment when I’ve read it properly. See,   To attend book’s launch – this Wednesday – 6pm – the Jam House, Edinburgh, free tickets at . Senscot is one of the 18 networks which comprise the Scottish Community Alliance (SCA); its website this week features a new page which ‘shines a light on the rich diversity of community action in Scotland’. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Glasgow YWCA, miEnterprise Scotland, FEAT Trading CIC Ltd, Senscot, Penicuik YMCA, Scottish Council on Deafness, The National Deaf Children’s Society, ReUseIt,
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Flea Market, 31 Aug; Social Capital World Forum 13, 4 Sep; The Ultimate LoCOLL Cookery Course, 8 Sep; An Introduction to Selling, 18 Sep; Summer Sea, Winter Sea, 19 Sep;
TENDERS:  Single Point of Contact (Website) – Opportunities Fife and Framework Agreement for the Provision of General Builders Work and Sundry Services – North Glasgow Housing Association. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Senscot attended an Enterprise Ready Fund workshop in Glasgow this week.  The Fund, administered by Foundation Scotland, in partnership with CEiS, Social Value Lab and DSL, will  open for applications in mid-September – with 3 main categories. Two things to note: “Priority will be given to activities that contribute towards Scottish Government’s Prevention and  Welfare Reform Agendas” and “ applicants must demonstrate clear and robust links with a business support provider (Just Enterprise, HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Business Gateway, or from an independent source)”. Further workshops are planned for Inverness (10th Sept) and Edinburgh (12th Sept).  See, . For more Networks News, see

The BIG Lottery (Scotland) has also announced the launch of its new Accelerator Fund – a partnership with Social Investment Scotland (SIS) – that will offer a combination of grant and investment to ‘early start social enterprises’. See details,   The management of the Fund is now out to tender – closing date of 7th Oct. This is the first of three new initiatives – the others being a new community shares support service and a social investment readiness pilot. For more, see,

Senscot is looking to recruit an Administrator (Maternity cover) for our office in Edinburgh (Manor Place) – post will be available from November ’13 – Sept ‘14. Duties include general office admin; book- keeping; events’ co-ordination. For job description and application form, contact or see, Closing date is 5pm on Friday, 6th Sept.

Significant coup for Dundee SEN this week with news that it has secured £200K funding from the John Sharp Benevolent Trust to invest in new and existing social enterprise businesses in the city. Congratulations to all involved. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a Borders SEN member, Grow to Work, which provides young adults with work experience and training opportunities, catered to individuals’ talents and capabilities. Based on six acres of land at Thornylee (Galashiels), Grow to Work’s programme employs a buddy system, partnering young people with learning disabilities with those from mainstream education for mutual benefit. Grow to Work has a number of new initiatives that it planning to develop that include a community café; ground care and maintenance and woodcrafts. For more, see

With the passing years, my sense of wonder at the natural world has intensified; but my sense of the unique dignity of every single human being has diminished; I can’t decide if this is a shift in me, or our culture.  The Scots writer Ian Crighton Smith touched on this:

                “Sometimes when I walk the streets of Glasgow I see an old woman passing by, bowed down with shopping bags, and I ask myself; ‘What force made this woman what she is?  What is her history?’  It is the holiness of the person we have lost, the holiness of life itself, the inexplicable mystery and wonder of it, its strangeness, its tenderness.”

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210