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News from Pat Conaty

pat conaty 3Pat pointed out in the Guardian recently that hardly a month goes by without another scare story about aspects of our health and care services. The prosecutions at Winterbourne View, and the collapse and public sector rescue of Southern Cross are seen by many as evidence of a care service system in crisis. He asks – rhetorically – if there is a democratically accountable ownership model for health and care services that could make a difference, pointing out that in a growing number of countries, from Europe to Canada and Japan, diverse co-operative models of social care are expanding.

social coops cover pat conatyLike many other co-operators, Pat believes these approaches can be further developed in the UK and that they would benefit the lives of vulnerable people by empowering them directly in decisions that affect their care.

Co-operative social & health care is being developed in the Sunderland, Shropshire, Leicester and Wales (see Social Co-operatives: A New Model of Social Care in Wales). For examples see a worker co-ops directory.

In July Pat’s UK and Wales co-operatives research report Social Co-operatives, a Democratic Co-Production Agenda for Care Services in the UK was published.


Steve Walker of ART reports, in a Finance for Enterprise blog, that Pat, one of the founders of the Community Development Finance movement in the UK and Aston Reinvestment Trust (ART) in particular, received the UK CITI Foundation CDFI Hero Award this year. Steve referred to Pat’s ‘unstinted efforts’ over 20 years of working in research and development in the CDFI sector and other areas of social need:

“Pat was the original developer of the ART model of finance, designed to fill gaps left by the banks, after a lengthy period of research in the US and working cooperatively with others in the UK . . . He has championed the role of social enterprise and the need for increased social investment. He pioneered the voluntary-sector-led ESCO which explored, with the Energy Savings Trust, the potential to ‘green up’ and save energy as well as cost for small businesses, the voluntary sector and housing – way ahead of its time. Pat has established new financial housing-related support for improvements to properties through a number of CDFIs”.

Pat’s advice in his acceptance speech:

“Big organisations are so successful because they collaborate, and it’s a mug’s game to compete. Having a spirit of mutuality is my message. If you do that there’s nothing you can’t do and you will advance quicker. For decades in the third sector I have seen organisations competing with each other, even more so than in the private sector, and I think that is particularly tragic.

“It is counter-productive not to collaborate”.


News from Zerbanoo Gifford: the Asha Centre and the case of the Chagos islanders

ashaAs many readers will know, a few years ago, Zerbanoo founded the Asha Centre, a UK charity working for the empowerment of young people, sustainable development and peace & reconciliation worldwide.

It is a hub of intercultural activities, hosting a range of educational, performing arts and environment-based programmes throughout the year.

Gloucestershire’s Dean Academy asked if they might name one of their three colleges after Zerbanoo, so there is now a Gifford college.

She writes that Adrian, Mark and Sandy went to Brussels in May 13, to collect a European award for Asha’s 2011 Youth Exchange ‘Acting it Out’. This project involved orphans and young disadvantaged people from Armenia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and the UK. It was chosen by the British Council as the UK’s most outstanding project in the past seven years of the EU’s Youth in Action programme.

The death of Nelson Mandela brought back memories for Zerbanoo who remembers speaking alongside Neil Kinnock at a rally at Trafalgar Square, in June 1985, calling for sanctions on apartheid South Africa and presenting a petition to No 10, with Trevor Huddleston.

ASHA now works with the Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre in Johannesburg. Together, they have created an exchange programme, through which young South Africans from the townships have visited ASHA and devised theatre productions which have toured the UK as well as being performed in South Africa.

Continuing their Chagos story

Background: for many years, since meeting exiled Chagos islanders when she and her husband Richard were on holiday in Mauritius, Richard has given his services as a solicitor in the long struggle to enable those who wish to do so to return to Diego Garcia.

In December 2012, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the islanders bid to return was inadmissible, William Hague announced a review of UK policy towards resettlement of the islands. In June 2013, the High Court dismissed Olivier Bancoult’s challenge to the marine protected area and did this by ruling the Wikileaks cables – which revealed the intention to exclude Chagossians from their homeland – inadmissible. During that case, access to the file on the infamous 2002 feasibility study, which had been deployed to abolish the right of abode in Chagos, was obtained.

However in July the British government announced a new feasibility study into resettling the islanders. So now the issue is to secure a truly objective study and make a decision before 2015. In October, Richard and Zerbanoo flew to Mauritius to attend the 30th anniversary of the Chagos Refugees Group.

Richard’s address described how the attacks of 11th September 2001 set FCO policy back several years and led to the disreputable feasibility study, in parallel with the dodgy dossier on WMD and the discredited advice from the Attorney General on the legality of the war in Iraq. These all appeared within weeks of each other, no doubt influenced by FCO’s perceptions of the value of the US base at Diego Garcia as a military asset.

But while the Government is willing to contemplate resettlement, nothing has been decided and legal moves cannot be dropped; The Court of Appeal rejected the challenge to the ruling on the Marine Protected Area in March 2014. Richard is even working on a plan to set aside the House of Lords’ decision of 2008, which was procured by chicanery (involving ‘lost’ documents), now revealed by FCO papers recently obtained. More from the New Zealand press here.

A practical guide for peace education

The Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Programme: This manual is the outcome of a two-year Learning Partnership with the Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission – implemented jointly by civil society organisations from Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and United Kingdom – ASHA Centre. The manual aims to provide a practical guide for peace education.

Ongoing event: Discovering Interfaith Dialogue: Eastern Religions 26th August – 3rd September 2014: participating Countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, United Kingdom: the ASHA Centre’s first ERASMUS+ Training Course will bring together 32 youth leaders and youth workers from the EU.


Fordhall Farm wants a part-time Senior Administrator

fordhall header

As many on this and other mailing lists give moral and/or financial support to the Fordhall project, this message is being forwarded.

Jane Edwards, the Fordhall project’s senior administrator will be leaving at the end of this month to move on to pastures new. She will be taking a job a little closer to her home at the Three Tons Brewery.

Ultimately that means there is a position available at Fordhall for a part-time Senior Administrator. All relevant information can be found on the website.

If you or a friend has the experience and are passionate about Fordhall then please get in touch.


Network news from Caroline Whyte, continuing Richard Douthwaite’s work in FEASTA

feasta logoThe Fourth International Conference on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity will take place in Leipzig from September 2-6, 2014.

Feasta co-ordination member Willi Kiefel will be presenting a paper on the late Richard Douthwaite‘s contribution towards a material degrowth society in Ireland in a session which will focus on Richard’s work in Ireland towards a material degrowth society, especially his work within Feasta and his activities in “seed projects “ coming from civic society or grass roots level. There will also be a presentation by Hans Diefenbacher on Richard’s scientific work.

feasta degrowth eventThe focus of the 2014 conference is on concrete steps towards a society beyond the imperative of growth. The conference will give room for scientific debates, exchange between activists and economic pioneers as well as artistic approaches to the subject. Both scientific insights and concrete projects and policies will be presented, experimented with and discussed. It is part of an international cycle of events: so far, there have been conferences on degrowth in Paris 2008, in Barcelona 2010 and in Venice and Montreal 2012.

Many analyses from various scientific disciplines imply that a growth-based economic and social system cannot have a future: Despite a growing number of technological solutions for “Green Growth”, inequality and the destruction of nature are significantly on the rise. It is high time to develop economic and social models that are independent of growth and can provide for a good life for everybody.

The final registration date is August 11, so it’s a good idea to book quickly. Free childcare will be provided. Contact: Tel: +49-(0)341-39281686 – E-Mail:

STOP PRESS: all places now filled but people can participate by ‘livestream’ and/or check for cancellations.


Network news from Eirwen Harbottle

eirwen harbottleEirwen sends news of Peace Child activities. Her daughter Rosey and son-in-law David Woolcombe founded this organisation which works to “empower young people to be the change they want to see in the world”.

Many good people are working for a more peaceful world , yet we see an escalation of killing. However, I think this work, paralleled by Zerbanoo and the Asha Centre, is the most hopeful approach. The FT reports that a new opinion poll on Friday by Gallup demonstrated a big generational gap in views about Israel. Among Americans aged 65 and over, 55% said they supported Israel’s actions in the current conflict.

Encouragingly, among the 18-29 group 51% said Israel’s behaviour was unjustified and only 23% supported Israel’s actions.

In September last year Eirwen attended a new production of the original “Peace Child'” musical at UN HQ in Geneva. Green Cross international had asked Peace Child to do this as part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of its creation by Mikhail Gorbachev. Eirwen relates:

“The story begins with the catastrophic explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear plant which financially beggared the old Soviet Union. The cost of seeking advice from world experts on how to render it safe had left a huge hole in the Soviet military budget.   National – and global – security had suddenly assumed a new environmental priority.   It proved the political undoing of Gorbachev. Sacked, he was left to ponder where the essence of global security actually lay. Green Cross International was the result.

peacechildlogo“The show was called “2050 – The Future We Want”. Whereas back in 1981, the story of ” Peace Child” had focused on how young people had made friends with the young of Soviet Russia, supporting disarmament as the road to world peace, 32 years on the spotlight was now on environmental security.

“It was not hard to edit the words of the original songs.   “The Military Industrial Complex” easily became “The Petroleum Industrial Complex”. There were additional songs from Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) who was delighted to be there with his wife.   The Geneva City community choir were joined by singers from 3 former Soviet satellites – Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus – and 19 other countries. Brilliant dancers were trained by a UK choreographer; 11 younger children from families in Geneva gathered round Rosey, playing the Story Teller, (and looking absolutely beautiful!). A few of the cast below – all may be seen here:

eir cast world we want 2050“On screen a poignant film about Chernobyl’s demise showed the stricken countryside where nothing can now thrive, as though people had just left in a hurry, leaving food on the tables, children’s toys and shoes strewn around and an eerie silence everywhere. Much individual rehearsing had naturally already been going on in various locations but this jigsaw of a production had now to be assembled by David, lighting and sound technicians, others responsible for scene setup, changing props &c – and all within a bare fortnight!”

(Please see for instructions on viewing the show)

Peace Child then hosted the first international “Jobs Creation Summit” at a Westminster location provided by the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills:

“The keynote speaker was Andries Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development, followed by Lord Young, Prime Minister Cameron’s Enterprise Adviser.   Half the 165 delegates were young people, the remainder being representatives of NGOs, business, academics and a single MP – Jeremy Lefroy (Con)- who organised a later follow-up meeting in the House of Commons. Basically all this was the culmination of a series of 6 smaller meetings over the past year within a EU network that seeks to identify best innovative practices already running for 18-20 year olds. Peace Child’s partners have been Multiple Learning Solutions and InspirEngage International.

“One particular individual stood out for me from the array of innovative leadership on the platform that day – Larry Sullivan, the Australian Founder/CEO of Look him up, if you will, and see how many start-up enterprises he has created.

“The new Youth Training Programme of EU Partnership for Enterprise has a challenging task ahead, does it not? But I have confidence that they will make their mark!”

New Era news was read by people from these countries last week