Chopwell Regeneration Group wins the Janette Kirton-Darling Memorial Prize
by Barry Knight
At a ceremony held at the Cathedral in Newcastle upon Tyne on 30 November 2022, the first prize of the Janette Kirton-Darling Memorial Prize was awarded to Chopwell Regeneration Group for their efforts to regenerate a former mining village in rural west Gateshead.
A video describing its work is here:
The first of two runners up was People and Communities Together for their work on ‘Mumspace’:
The second runner-up was Racial Justice in Education Team for their work on institutional racism in schools:
The judges of the prize said that all shortlisted applicants were excellent, and it had been hard to decide between them because all were so good.
A video featuring Janette and a brief overview of all seven of the shortlisted applicants is here:
All shortlisted applicants show how initiatives run by local people for local people can address difficult issues such as support for parents, environmental degradation, mental health, institutional racism, welcome for migrants and asylum seekers, and low pay. Two applicants are regenerating their communities – one in a mining village and the other in part of Newcastle
Across all applicants there are common threads that carry vital messages for the future organisation of social policy and practice in our society.
As local people themselves, they all spend time listening to other local people. They work with local people as equals. They encourage people to have power. They are trying to get their messages across to power holders in society. They see themselves finding a new pathway to hope.
The initiatives are a counter to of the failures of the welfare state, namely that from the beginning it was based on state bureaucracies with the premise that ‘the gentleman in Whitehall knows best’. This attitude often results in unsympathetic treatment from cold bureaucracies defined by a rulebook that doesn’t understand the real needs of people.
If any of you have been following the news over the last year, one thing that is clear is that the gentleman in Whitehall does not know best.
The applicants to the Janette Kirton-Darling prize show that people in our communities can be magnificent. All of them are winners. Their work is very powerful for the future of our society.
Janette would be proud of them.
Written by Barry Knight.
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