Social Reform: rich money, poor money: how we need to make rich money and poor money understand each other

(Featured image: St Ann’s Allotments Nottingham)

Money makes all the difference but it’s what we understand by money that will really make an impact. It’s all about people and what their aspirations are.

What we don’t admit is how we really want to make our money work, see it make a difference.

Below a collage of images created by Nottingham Black Archive, some of Nottingham’s great allotments and a 1930’s ad to promote Nottingham just before the second world war.

These are rich images full of history and mystery. Through them we can look back and forward seeking meaning and value.


How Nottingham saw itself in the thirties and how it sees itself now bridges the gaps between class, race and gender 

No-one wants to throw away our money, whether we’re rich or poor and we don’t want to feel our money is worth less because we come from a different part of the city.

But that’s what these images teach us: we do this all the time and we’re currently in an historic place where we are trying to change the way the professional tools of analysis and understanding have been used as weapons against difference. It’s being debated now in parliament in the post 2008 crash select committee



Swords into Ploughshares Arlie J Regier referenced on The View From this seat blog. You can also find interesting references in the work of Peter Kennard and John Heartfield

We’re now in a place where we don’t want to give up on the value of our lives or others lives.  We know that lottery money is given by the poorest and the professional classes, in the main, direct how the money is spent.

When we don’t value our labour or our place in the world we don’t give up. Even the most addled addict hasn’t given up. We see things in the wrong way when we send out well meaning sixth formers out on to the streets to ask addicts what they were doing when they were seventeen.

Intelligent and sensitive questions but they becomes a weapon against a vulnerable person when it comes without the essential understanding that the things these people need have vanished from the world for them. Addiction helps people accommodate floating in a space that’s controlled by others.

Addiction is the wrong way to deal with loss of place.

We’ll have suicides and addicts until we realise that we’re doing it to each other. We’re creating charities and work on mental health instead of looking at creating a raft of great permanent  part time jobs and real house building that would underpin rehabilitation.

Action, busyness and movement is what we need. We all need to move but our government  needs to understand that we all need a locus and a locality where we belong.

When David Cameron goes to Jamaica and says let’s give you money to build another prison, ignoring the irony and injustice of this,  Teresa May CAN still  come to Nottingham and say she wants to get a campaign for great permanent part time jobs and homes going, so that in 2017 charities can work to make themselves redundant, so that religious groups can assist in ways that we think they should in a civilised and wealthy society.


We should not need the Red Cross in our hospitals. The implicit social contract underlying all the volunteers and voluntarism in hospitals has been the privatisation of the immense human value in the NHS over seventy years.

We should be cultivating farms around our hospitals. Farms that could balance the chemicals that patients are treated with. 

Lets do things that make sense to more people more of the time.

At the moment we’re a place where we’re gambling  on the odds that there can be a transformation society using the tools of understanding as weapons against the most vulnerable.

Increasingly, there’s a feeling that professionals only explain and disclose to other professionals. Professionals over police each other and we have an empty, aggressive vacuum where the love is hollowed out of any vocation an individual once had.

And the rich and the poor both gamble: ironically wanting to believe in magic but there’s no hope. The system always wins.

Gambling and lottery is the most highly managed environment in the world. A place where when we believe that all we have to do is put the money in the slot we lose much more than money.

When we give up on the value of what we have we  gamble away our control over what happens,  casino or lotterying our aspirations. In that environment we’e socialised into futility. We know that what we need are other people but other people and connecting seems too daunting a prospect. They’re all much smarter, more clued up, already know the craic.

The day to day real way of making a living and value is about creating opportunities for ourselves and others that last.

We need a new kind of regeneration. A Regeneration that means that if there is an increasing professionalisation and automation for the youngest in our society that will ensure they thrive that there also needs to be a revolution in real part time jobs that are secure, contracted and pensioned for those who man the wider and creative parts of society and economy throughout their lives.

When we look at homelessness and mental health problems we’re looking at the reasons why we should have secure part time jobs and more new homes of all kinds.

People have been volunteering and working for little or nothing for their whole lifetimes. This unpaid for labour has ensured that the economy thrives and it’s time for a new kind of job creation that ensures every part of society connects to create a more civilised world.

Work can’t be done for free and it can’t be done by proxy organisations who say they are speaking for others. Campaign groups are great but they need to facilitate meaningful paid work throughout a lifetime for everyone.

On Monday 6th March 2017 Teresa May makes a follow up speech about the UK and Brexit.

Here I am before I go to work, listening to Donny McCaslin,  Jimi Hendrix and Lavinia Greenlaw on Radio 6 with Mary Ann Hobbs and I’m thinking about a project I ummed and awed about putting £1000 into three years ago: I had the money but I was scared to spend it.

Yet it was a project I really believed in, it was really something where my input, my £1,000 would have made a difference because I would have really got involved, I knew loads about the people, the project, the environment but I watched as it slipped away.

I understood the commitment, the work involved and the obstacles to real community engagement and I knew that putting money in meant putting myself in. And I was too busy I told myself, I was too involved, I was working six days a week I thought and on the seventh I’m a grandma. My situation was too precarious to invest really.

So I didn’t make my £1000 input. I didn’t buy shares.

Because I’d had enough of giving in isolation, because I knew I’d be trying to make the environment work as a business for ordinary people who were like me, full of aspiration, experience. 

Really put off because you get fed up after a while of being the only one who is doing it to feel connected, engaged, surprised by the project itself.

I say this as someone who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s where the ideas of communities of people on your doorstep made things happen (like Joan of Arc community theatre at Nottingham Playhouse, Mary Poppins is on the Lawn, The Seven Dwarves transferred to  St Saviour’s church and a campaign to create a park for local people!).

This kind of community connectedness has made a comeback in the UK and in Nottingham through the work of the Black Archives project, and the Nottingham News Centre publicised and developed by Primary and Ian Nesbitt,  the Journey to Justice project facilitated by the energy and distribution of resources from the University Centre for Race and Rights by Professor Sharon Monteith who is currently taking a well earned sabbatical to complete a book for the University of Georgia Press called ‘SNCC’s Stories: Narrative Culture and the Southern Freedom Struggle of the 1960s’ and writing ‘The Civil Rights Movement: A Literary History for CUP’.

Professor Sharon Monteith: Nottingham Centre for Race and Rights and scholar activist Lisa Robinson of social enterprise Bright Ideas

It is always the work to fund black history….



Panya Banyoko poet, founder of Nottm Black Archive: Image courtesy Nottingham University Media Centre (new writing workshop March 2017) 11th March 3-5 responding to the exhibition The Place is Here 

that lets us look again at ourselves the relations that made us who we are, who we were then….and who we are now....

It brings an awareness of what Teresa May’s Fair Deal At Home


could mean if it’s interpreted broadly and with generosity : it’s an opportunity to recognise the contribution ALL citizens make to the opportunities taken up by others in every generation: markets, such as the Victoria, Sneinton and other markets in Nottingham for example, as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation realise, contribute the social capital that creates the social catapult for all the great British brands and successes and are rarely acknowledged.

Marginalising  local markets is a bit like saying only certain people should be publicly seen in society, even though those people are just as engaged in their contribution to the world.

Invisibility means disenfranchisement by what seems to be an empty professionalisation of everything that has social meaning to keep non professionals at bay, at a remove from real, meaningful change.

Teresa May, as our PM, needs  to understand that we need healthy and dynamic connections between professionals and others in society in the same way our bodies need collagen.

Professionalisation needs to make sense so that it can  be safely challenged and criticised by everyone in society in a constructive and straightforward way. We need to look again at the way professionals and the rest of society relate, interact and understand each other.

Professionalisation should develop the tools for action and change but those tools have to be approved by the rest of society.

Professionals should feel that they sit alongside those tools so they’re as much sceptics and critics of them as the wider society. At the moment they’re so fearful of making errors, letting people down in an environment where they are policing each other that commitment and vision is very short term.

It’s as if we’re all hyper accelerated even if we’re not fully economically and socially engaged. Like Blade Runners we feel that there’s a lack of respect for the work, effort and contribution we make: it’s never enough and the irony is that this undermines our sense of authenticity and productivity. Hence suicide rates, hence me thinking that my financial investment in a community project couldn’t really make a difference.








One thought on “Social Reform: rich money, poor money: how we need to make rich money and poor money understand each other

  1. This is a very relevant post at the moment: a Sunday morning moment when you think all is well with the world, nothing could be more lovely and that you really can make a difference!


Comments are closed.