Niall Cooper: What makes a good society?
What it means to be a “good society” is a fundamental question for all of us. What values underpin a good society? And what can we do as individuals, churches and wider communities to put it into practice locally?
Over the past two years, the Good Society project has asked a range of communities: “What does a good society mean for you?” In Cornwall, Belfast, Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and Swansea, its researchers have listened to ordinary folk telling their own stories, in their own words. What has emerged has been informative and enlightening.
There are many great – and often unheralded – pieces of work going on that illustrate solid community building and a deep sense of care for the whole community. Take Newlyn, in Cornwall. Whilst still the biggest fishing port in the southwest, it is now becoming more dependent on the tourist industry, and young people are leaving the area for a lack of jobs. For Ruth, a member of the Women’s Network in Newlyn: “A good society is a place of worthwhile work, a place where children grow up with a sense of community and other people value them and they value the support and guidance given. A place where the church still plays a part in the life of the community.”
Or, take Lee, a regular customer of STAK (St Austell Community Kitchen) since 1986. He is there six days a week (STAK is closed on Sundays) and on the seventh day, he sits in his room. He said: “I haven’t got a family; this is my family. It’s like a family affair, a nice, warm, safe place to be. It’s run by good people. If it closed, it would be a great loss – some people would not know what to do at all.”…
This is an extract from the May 2014 edition of Reform.