Hilary Cottam’s Radical Help: possibilities and clues for social work

Marc is looking forward to the innovative Advocates and Allies Conference of the Irish Association of Social Workers which is bringing together Radical and Relationship-based Social Work Practices on 30th September in Dublin. He’s a speaker and will be talking about Hilary Cottam’s Radical Help: possibilities and  clues for social work?

In 2018, social activist Hilary Cottam published Radical Help, her account of several action research projects conducted around England over a decade seeking answers to the question of how the system can be helpful to people in the 21st century.

 Her findings are truly radical, and yet perhaps rather intuitive – even obvious: we humans need meaning and purpose, and a picture of how we’d like our life to be; we all, always, have strengths to draw upon in our efforts to get there – and building our capabilities further is essential too; we want human connection, so excellent relationships – with friends, neighbours, workers – is key; and we engage when we’re in control, setting our own agenda.

 Ms Cottam’s projects were tightly evaluated and demonstrated some very encouraging results. So what clues do these projects offer to statutory social work? The duties of the department and the social work role may currently constrain, but here’s an opportunity to see what possibilities we can tease out.