More money will not fix our broken welfare state. We need to reinvent it

“Strong relationships are the key to creating new services that can support us and unlock our potential”

The welfare state has relevance to the subject of mental health because the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is a major part of the wider welfare system.

And the ideas of Hilary Cottam – author of Radical Help, concerning the reinvention of the welfare state – are also relevant to the subject of mental health because human relationships and human-scale communities are key elements in the creation of a wellbeing society.

Writing in The Guardian newspaper, she says:

“Our once brilliant welfare state is out of kilter with modern troubles, modern lives and much of modern public opinion. A set of institutions and services designed for a different era now looks threadbare and beyond repair. They can sometimes help us in an emergency, but in many cases, from our health, to work, to care in our old age, they cannot support us to flourish. In recent years, our public services have been devastated by cuts. Invest more money, argue those on the left. Better management, counter those on the right. The truth, I have learned in my work with communities across Britain as a social entrepreneur, is that our troubles run deeper.

I don’t think we can fix these systems, but I think we can reinvent them, with human connection at their heart. When people feel supported by strong relationships, change happens. And when we make collaboration and connection feel simple and easy, people want to join in. Yet our welfare state does not try to connect us to one another, despite the abundant potential of our relationships. Most of our services – for young and old people alike – are aimed at managing risk and getting by …”

Read more here.

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