Radical Help

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* Book: Radical Help: How We Can Remake the Relationships Between Us and Revolutionise the Welfare State . By Hillary Cottam. Virago, 2018

URL = http://www.hilarycottam.com/radical-help/

Description

"Radical Help is about new ways of organising living and growing that have been developed with communities across Britain.

The British welfare state transformed our lives. The model was emulated globally, setting the template for the ways we think about social change across the world. But this once brilliant innovation can no longer help us face the challenges of today.

Radical Help argues that our 20th century system is beyond reform and suggests a new model for this century: ways of supporting the young and the old, those who are unwell and those who seek good work At the heart of this new way of working is human connection. When people feel supported by strong human relationships change happens. And when we design new systems that make this sort of collaboration feel simple and easy people want to join in.

The vision is big but Radical Help is a practical book. It shows how we can make change and how we can make a transition now towards a new system that can take care of everyone."

Review

Nicholas Timmins:

"problems, argues that it’s imperative that we help people who in one form or another have come to rely on the welfare state’s myriad services—or who get lost within them—to take back control of their own lives. It’s vital that we help them build on their own capabilities, create their own connections and fulfil their own desires.

In humane and beautifully written terms, Radical Help details a series of experiments around the country that have done just that—dealing with “chaotic families,” the unemployed, benefit claimants and the lonely elderly living with chronic medical conditions. The solution is renewal through relationships, which will require harnessing some very old as well as newer technologies.

It is a tale of successes and failures, and sometimes of success followed by failure. Existing services struggle to adapt to new approaches, but given the right support can do well. When the money gets tight, though, these ideas can be abandoned: they feel too “soft,” in more than one sense of the word.

The biggest challenge, which Cottam acknowledges, is not so much how to “scale up” (because the whole point here is that the system should be very local and individual) but how to make such ideas more mainstream. One is left with a nagging query about how much success depends on the exceptional individuals that Cottam seems able to recruit to her cause. But even so there are powerful ideas here. This book should be required reading for every politician, professional and manager who seeks to make the UK a better place. They should ask themselves: how much of this could we do?" (https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/how-to-fix-the-welfare-state)