Knitting Civil Society?

Yarn and knitting needles_1

It was like the bad old days in the 1980s in the months when the cuddly [hardly ‘Marxists’ which is what one Tory MInister called them!] Anglican Bishops brought our their ‘Faith in the City’ report – Keep out of ‘politics’ and stick to ‘saving souls’ we were told. And then New Labour and the Tories discovered that faith groups could ‘deliver’ community cohesion and a ‘big society’ [in the days before the Coalition cuts bit and the David Cameron’s ‘big society’ network threw away pots of public money and the ‘big society’ died]….

And now the new ‘Civil Society’ government Minister [Brooks Newmark] tells charities to ‘stick to knitting’ and to keep out of ‘politics’ – Try to rewind the clock if you want Mr Newmark but the civil society genie is out of the bottle – Religion and politics do mix – they have to if people of faith are motivated by a vision of a better more equal society where the outsiders and left out come first. I’ve written about this relationship in my 2013 book ‘A Theology of Community Organizing’

Al Barrett is an Anglican Minister on a large housing estate in the city of Birmingham in the UK. Read what he has to say about ‘knitting’ and politics by clicking on ‘This Estate We’re In’…..


Social Exclusion and Urban Youth Spiritualities

Here is a brief interview I gave just over a year ago about my two year ethnographic project working alongside unemployed young men on a large Birmingham housing estate – graffiti arts meets and challenges social exclusion and provides a new mode of theological discourse for young men who have no time at all for organised religion.