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Summary

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 redesign the welfare state for this century.

The welfare state was revolutionary: it lifted thousands out of poverty and 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 60 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.

©2019 Hilary Cottam (P)2019 W. F. Howes

Critic reviews

"Packed with moving vignettes...Cottam's ideas could help transform the way we all live." (New Statesman

What listeners say about Radical Help

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  • MJ
  • 24-02-21

Lovely Sentiments

Starts brilliantly like she was reading the writers on my soul. Then I thought, there's a thousands projects just like those. The conclusion is rubbish and there's something creepy about a rich educated voice, flogging yet another set of tools and rules, for poor people while barely mentioning poverty and inequality. Then right at the end gives everything away to Leadership, the antithesis of the initial sentiments. Nothing going to change - even if the tools and rules are a more participative and humanistic - while all the power and money is in the hands of a few people, who don't do the work and are overwhelmingly interested in maintaining the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. I'm just frustrated, as I love the sentiment and the humanity of the collaborative work described, as do almost every health and social care worker, who also know the right way to do things, but are as disenfranchised from their own institutions as the people they try to help. There's nothing radical about investing in people to live a good life.

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A game-changer worth everybody's time!

What an incredible book! A game-changer for anyone interested in growth and learning, leadership, and creating welfare support systems that actually work and help people thrive. Hilary Cottam's breadth of knowledge and experience and the scope of this book are extraordinary!
I cannot recommend this highly enough!

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Hats off to a courageous visionary

A truly inspiring vision of transformative change, tapping in to what is truly abundant in human nature - a desire to thrive, to have agency, to be embedded in a network of relationships. I would recommend this book to anyone, unreservedly.