In June 2022 we brought together a diverse group of people playing different roles within and around systems of care and repair across the UK. Over two days together we explored how we might reimagine care – for ourselves, each other, our places and planet.
“If we are to make a transition to the restorative green economy that will ensure humanity’s future and is longed for by many, then the work of care and of maintenance – of each other and the wider webs of life of which we are part – will be a core and respected activity. We have to design this role in such a way that thousands can embrace the work, not because they have to but because they want to: because it provides a good income and time for a good life, because it is honoured”
This was an experimental partnership with acclaimed author, innovator and change-maker Hilary Cottam, to build on the radical new vision for social care she launched with The Health Foundation in November 2021.
Over a two-day residential retreat in June 2022, we brought together a diverse crew of people working on many different frontiers of care and repair across the UK, including people with responsibility for existing systems of care (eg. within government departments and local authorities), people with lived experience of care systems and/or of caring for others, people looking at the larger systems of the economy and the environment, people exploring what it takes to hospice old systems and those creating new spaces and places rooted in ideas and cultures of care and repair.
“I loved the feeling of being cared for but also of being pushed to think about things in a different way. It was mysterious and magical.”
Participant, Reimagining Care
In contrast to our journey process, this was a shorter enquiry, exploring the need for both care and repair, imagining care and repair as crafts and core infrastructure to invest in rather than costs to bear, and asking how we could re-common care. We were also blessed with sessions run by members of the crew, including Farzana Khan’s somatic practice, helping us explore care as allyship, and Lee Robb helping us engage in acts of repair.
“For me the process demonstrated the complexity of this issue but also showed me how many different people, many of whom were part of the process, are already doing amazing things to challenge the way things work. It helped me to understand that it’s not one thing that is going to create the change we need, it’s lots of things in lots of different spaces.”
Participant, Reimagining Care
We are grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund and The Health Foundation for making this project possible, and the wonderful group who joined us, which included:
Alexis Chappell: Head of Social Care, Sheffield City Council; Beatrix Butnicu: NHS worker; Ben Myers: community worker, Boys’ Development Project Coordinator at Future Men; Cassie Robinson: designer and innovator, leading a project around care and climate; Dami Makinde: Co-founder of We Belong; Elizabeth Kingston Harrison: Congregations Connection Lead, Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; Farzana Khan: Director of Healing Justice London; Krishna Ramamurthy: carer, Trustee at Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood; Lee Robb: Co-founder of the Repair Cafe Belfast and Positive Carrickfergus; Lisa Smith: Strategic Service Manager at NSPCC; Lyn Romeo: Chief Social Worker for Adults, England; Maxwell Ayamba: journalist, academic, founder of the Sheffield Environmental Movement; Rabab Ghazoul: founder, Gentle/Radical, artist; Sophy Banks: grief tender, psychotherapist, co-founder of the Transition movement; Sue Himmelweit: Emeritus Professor of Economics; Tom Bailey: climate change researcher, Co-Founder The Jump; Yuan Yang: Co-Founder, Rethinking Economics, FT Bureau Chief and writer.