This TED talk from an entrepreneurial front-line social worker in the UK gives a very considered and honest discussion of how the modern welfare state was created (in 1940s Britain) and how it simply isn’t a model for today.
Rather than just bash the system, as we all love to do, Hilary Cottam has come up with a radical new approach to social services in which resources are spent directly on helping people rather than on a system which manages said people. In fact, by spending far less, she’s been able to make significant positive changes in the lives of many people in South London who are all now helping one another.
Her approach of building real, tangible relationships has fostered a community spirit that was previously obliterated by the current approach to social welfare. There’s power in numbers and by building networks of people, those most in need now have someone to talk to, someone to do odd jobs around the house and people to help identify job opportunities in their local communities.
It seems to me that Hilary’s approach is doing wonders and is well worth taking further by central government.