Radical Help

The British welfare state transformed our lives.  The model was emulated globally, framing practice and ideas about social change across the world.  But this once brilliant innovation can no longer help us face the challenges of today.

Radical Help argues that our 20th century system is beyond reform and suggests a new model for this century: ways of supporting the young and the old, those who are unwell and those who seek good work   At the heart of this new way of working are new systems and services that foster our capabilities and human connections.  These new ways of working start with people and their desires and knowledge,  liberate professionals, cost less and support long-lasting change and flourishing in every place where they have been tried.

Radical Help was hailed as ‘mind-shifting’ in the New York Times and described in the Guardian as ‘the most important book you will read this year’. In Britain Radical Help has sold over 30,000 copies. UK readers can support independent bookshops by purchasing a copy directly or order on line here. US readers can order here.  Radical Help is also available in international translations.

An Introduction to Radical Help

For a brief introduction to some of the ideas in Radical Help you can watch me in conversation with Gary Younge at the book’s launch in London here.

I have also written about the book in the Huffington Post, the Guardian and the Financial Times.

Acclaim for Radical Help

In The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland called Radical Help ‘the most important book you [will] read this year; ‘the idea that could transform Britain’.

In the New York Times, David Brooks called Radical Help ‘mind-shifting‘ writing that Cottam is showing the way to a welfare system of the future.

In 2020 Fast Company nominated me as one of their ‘most creative people’ based on ‘the impact Radical Help has had world wide

Nicholas Timmins, the biographer of the welfare state, wrote ‘Humane and beautifully written… there are powerful ideas here.  This book should be required reading for every politician, professional and manager who seeks to make the UK a better place.’ Prospect

Melissa Benn wrote ‘Cottam’s ideas could transform the way we all live.  She is onto something exciting in her insistence on the potential of both relationships and new technology to sustain long-term human prospering’.  New Statesman

Anne-Marie Slaughter hailed Radical Help as ‘the most important book I have read in the last decade.  A must-read for everyone who believes that we can make a measurable and lasting difference in the lives of our fellow human beings, even those who may seem hardest to help’.  The former Director of Policy and Planning for the US State Department and CEO of New America wrote further on the importance of the participatory methods used in Radical Help in The Stanford Social Innovation Review.

In Le Monde Nicolas Colin wrote ‘In the great tradition of British social innovation – from Robert Owen to William Morris – Cottam’s optimistic vision shows how we could reinvent the welfare state.  Not a utopia but a promise‘.

Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics wrote ‘One of my very top reads.  If you care about the future of the welfare state and the role of human relationships, I deeply recommend it.  Set in the UK, relevant everywhere’.

Frederic Laloux, author of Reinventing Organisations wrote ‘One of the rare books capable of making an impact on society.  It’s the most exciting thing I’ve read in years.’

Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator at MOMA wrote, ‘One of the principles behind great design is to be radical.  In this indispensable volume Cottam explains the approach she has pioneered – Social Design‘.