Schools of Citizenship

By Frank Prochaska.
ISBN 1903 386 19 5

Frank Prochaska’s lively, thought-provoking and immensely
readable book reminds us of the necessity of having a vigorous and
independent voluntary sector if we are to have thriving

Exploring the philanthropic movement from the 19th century to
today, he observes how groups excluded from key aspects of
mainstream life used and continue to use voluntary organisations as
a platform to voice their concerns and aspirations. This is as true
for when women had no vote as it is for ethnic minorities

The view that there is little room for voluntary organisations in
the collective ideal is now changing. Although, perhaps, voluntary
organisations can never take over the role of the state, especially
on key basic needs, they are still essential, not least in their
key roles of caring for those groups that broad-based state
provision cannot reach and of being a voice critical of

Labour likes to project itself as the friend of voluntary
organisations. But the service-giving section in particular, if it
takes the government shilling, is subjected to ever more stringent
conditions, while those voicing criticism may well find they are
being spun against.

Jim Richards is director, Catholic Children’s Society

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