Seminar 2 – Present

21st century welfare: Understanding the present

25th September 2018

Blackburne House, Central Liverpool (Blackburne Place, L8 7PE)

In our second seminar in the series, we explored current issues in how 21st century welfare is represented and understood.  The seminar included presentations from a range of speakers (see below), a welfare walk (led by Paul Jones, University of Liverpool), and a zine-making session led by Jean McEwan from Wur Bradford.

You can listen again to all the presentations from the day, as well as opening comments and closing remarks from the series’ organisers below or on our Soundcloud page.

Ruth Patrick: Opening Remarks

Rachel Broady (National Union of Journalists), collaborator on the ‘Benefit to Society’ campaign and guide for journalists on fair reporting for social housing tenants

Rachel has many years experience as a journalist and is currently completing her PhD, on the reporting of poverty and protest during the cotton crisis, at Liverpool John Moores. As a National Union of Journalist activist she is leading two campaigns to tackle how poverty is reported and how social housing is reported. Rachel’s own experience of poverty and as a social housing tenant has informed the campaigns. The NUJ now has guidelines for its members on reporting poverty and a guide to reporting social housing. Rachel is also working with ATD and Oxford University as a co-researcher on an international project looking at ‘Poverty In All Its Forms’.

View Rachel’s presentation here.

Heather Mew (PhD student, Newcastle University) on ‘Local Resistance to Austerity: The case of Thrive

Heather is a PhD student at Newcastle University, researching working class resistance to austerity. Her research is based in the North East of England, and is being conducted in collaboration with Thrive.

Tracey Herrington, Thrive, a grassroots anti-poverty organisation in Stockton-on-Tees

Tracey has worked in the voluntary and community sector for over 15 years campaigning and taking action to challenge areas of social injustice. Tracey has been the manager of Thrive for the past 4 years, a grassroots organisation which builds the capacity of low income community members to build their capacity to enable them to affect change. She is currently working with a number of organisations in Stockton to assist the delivery of Stockton’s Poverty Truth Commission. She has worked alongside Durham University’s Centre for Social Justice and Church Action on Poverty facilitating the action research project, Debt on Teesside: Pathways to Financial Inclusion and provided local data for Durham University’s Human Right Department to contribute to the Benefit Sanctions in the North East of England, A parallel Report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for the examination of the United Kingdom’s 6th periodic report (April 2016).

Vickie Cooper & David Whyte (Liverpool University), authors of ‘The Violence of Austerity’

Vickie is a Lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology and Co-Director of Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC) at the Open University. Vickie’s research focuses on homelessness, the criminal justice system and housing inequality. Her previous research has explored the incarceration and policing of the homeless and the wide geographical dispersal of women who offend. Currently she is researching the relationship between welfare reforms and evictions in the post-crash climate and austerity as a violent political project.

David is Professor of Socio-legal Studies in the School of Law and Social Justice.  His research and teaching interests are focused on the connections between law and corporate power.  His latest book is The Violence of Austerity (Pluto, 2017 ed. with Vickie Cooper). 

Sara De Benedictis (Brunel University) 

Sara is a Lecturer in Media and Communications and Brunel University London. She is interested in exploring how gender and class inequalities come into being through representations, especially in relation to birth and menstruation. Prior to entering academia, Sara was a researcher in the women’s charity sector. Sara is currently researching reproductive politics in times of austerity. She has recently started a new project on period poverty.

Mo Stewart, independent disability studies researcher and author of ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’

Originally trained in the NHS before joining the (W)RAF medical branch, Mo worked as a medical technician specialising in neurophysiology and cardiac care prior to her medical discharge from service life in 1984.  Awarded a War Pension for life due to her health condition, Mo was confronted by a staff member from Atos Healthcare in December 2008, who conducted a work capability assessment (WCA) instead of a medical review of her War Pension. During the two years it took to successfully challenge the bogus WCA Mo came into contact with the disability support groups and continued the research on their behalf, which was shared with disability groups, significant academics and selected politicians.  Following seven years of research, Mo’s book ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ was published in September 2016 and has achieved critical acclaim.

View Mo’s presentation here.

Kerry Hudson, author

Kerry is an author and journalist. Her work focusses on the working class experience in the UK. Her forthcoming book, Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns, documents her return to the deprived communities she grew up in England and Scotland.  She is also a columnist for The Pool.

Mark McGowan (aka The Artist Taxi Driver), online activist

Mark McGowan is a British street artist, performance artist and prominent public protester who has gone by the artist name Chunky Mark and more recently The Artist Taxi Driver. McGowan is known internationally for his performance art including shock art, street art and installation art, and as a stuntman, internet personality, video blogger, social commentator, social critic, satirist, political activist, peace activist, and an anti-establishment, anti-war, anti-capitalist anti-monarchist and anti-power elite protester.

Kim Allen: Closing Remarks