‘The Good Society always starts with listening at the periphery – it is in the peripheries that you will meet the person of Christ most clearly’
Our launch yesterday was wonderful.
The community voices perfectly captured what a Good Society really means.
Kim Mathews, centre manager of St Austell’s Community Kitchen in Cornwall – a thriving café at the heart of the community, bursting at the seams, offering an extended family of friendship and support to those who would otherwise be isolated, said: “What makes for a Good Society? Respecting and caring for one another.”
Andi Smith, minister of Saltley Methodist Church, who responded to the realisation that women in their diverse community in Birmingham had nowhere to meet by helping to establish the ‘Remnants’ group, has enabled local women, Muslim, Christian and of no particular faith, to sew together, learn new skills, but above all, share and affirm each others’ stories.
“People from different backgrounds help us see what we can’t see in ourselves, but the truth is that the church has not learned enough from projects like Remnants.”
Paula Tabakin, member of All Souls Church, Belfast attended with her partner and young daughter – and described how the All Souls’ community is one in which she feels ‘beloved’, a church offering spiritual refuge to people who are hurt and excluded elsewhere.
Margaret Reynolds (seen below with Labour peer Maurice Glasman), longstanding Church Action on Poverty community activist from Meadowell, North Tyneside, recounted a forty year struggle – in the face of the failures of successive Governments – to bring hope to her extended family and community.
And now, in face of absent local politicians, she is standing in the council elections to represent the community she lives in.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols said the Good Society was made up of the ‘relational’ side of humanity – “Things that aren’t the objective of what we want to achieve, but they emerge in the whole process. And they are things like friendship, things like trust, they are things like generosity, and giftedness.’
A full transcript of his speech is available here.
Baron Maurice Glasman – ex-community organiser and living wage campaigner – told the assembled audience:
“If we are to forge the Common Good we need to learn to live with tensions and face up to the arguments in a relational way. We need to challenge elites and build a politics based on people who represent communities where they live.”
Faith traditions are well placed to take on this challenge, because we have a radically different notion of human value and the Good Society, according to Elizabeth Oldfield, director of the think tank Theos: “Unlike others who value people only in terms of wealth, work, or education, we believe that people are fundamentally of intrinsic worth.”
Echoing all that had gone before, Caroline Slocock of Civil Exchange, endorsed the call: “Our task is to fashion a new politics and language of the Common Good. The Good Society conversation has the potential to fill a void in politics and public services.”
The resources are here on our site.
So what are you waiting for?
It’s time to build the Good Society where you live – which periphery will you start with? And how will you bring the powerful in?