9 June 2018

[Book] Radical Help – by Hilary Cottam

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Radical Help – How we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionise the welfare state
By Hilary Cottam
Virago Publishing
June 2018, 320 pages
> Book talk at the RSA

How should we live: how should we care for one another; grow our capabilities to work, to learn, to love and fully realise our potential? This exciting and ambitious book shows how we can re-design the welfare state for this century.

The welfare state was revolutionary: it lifted thousands out of poverty, provided decent homes, good education and security. But it is out of kilter now: an elaborate and expensive system of managing needs and risks. Today we face new challenges. Our resources have changed.

Hilary Cottam takes us through five ‘Experiments’ to show us a new design. We start on a Swindon housing estate where families who have spent years revolving within our current welfare systems are supported to design their own way out. We spend time with young people who are helped to make new connections – with radical results. We turn to the question of good health care and then to the world of work and see what happens when people are given different tools to make change. Then we see those over sixty design a new and affordable system of support.

At the heart of this way of working is human connection. Upending the current crisis of managing scarcity, we see instead that our capacities for the relationships that can make the changes are abundant.

We must work with individuals, families and communities to grow the core capabilities we all need to flourish. Radical Help describes the principles behind the approach, the design process that makes the work possible and the challenges of transition. It is bold – and above all, practical. It is not a book of dreams. It is about concrete new ways of organising that already have been developing across Britain. Radical Help creates a new vision and a radically different approach that can take care of us once more, from cradle to grave.

Hilary Cottam is an internationally acclaimed British social entrepreneur, recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and named UK Designer of the Year in 2005. In 2006 Hilary founded Participle to design working exemplars of a new welfare state. Before her UK work she spent twelve years in Africa and Latin America, latterly as an urban poverty specialist at the World Bank in Washington DC. Her TED Talk: Social Services are Broken: How Can We Fix Them has had over half a million views. She lives in London.

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