The Mandela family at South Africa House, London August 15th 2018

Mandela family reading the book image
The children reading to the audience…

On August 15th, the SmithMartin Partnership team were invited to a book launch and family event at South Africa House, Trafalgar Square London.

There were sandwiches and cakes, balloons and celebrations as the Mandela family led us in storytelling and reflection about Nelson Mandela’s life and hardships, eventually securing the end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994.

Zindzi Mandela, who is currently serving as her country’s ambassador to Denmark is  the youngest daughter of Nelson and Winnie. She wanted to write a book so children could understand on their own terms about her father Nelson Mandela.

Grandad Mandela - cover image and web link
Buy this book here…free delivery

Grandad Mandela is written by Zindzi and two of her grandchildren, Zazi and Ziwelene, illustrated by Sean Qualls and published by Lincoln Children’s Books.

Zindzi had grown up in Soweto and when she was 18 months old her father, Nelson was sent to prison, and her mother, Winnie, was banished to the Free State, taking Zindzi with her. There was no schooling and she only had chance to finish her education when she was sent to Swaziland. In 1985 she gained a BA in Law at the University of Cape Town, In February 1985, she had read out Nelson’s refusal for a conditional release from prison by P.W.Botha.

Buy this book - button image and web link
…with free delivery

Zindzi also accompanied her father at his inauguration as President and was First Lady following Winnie and Nelson’s divorce.

An incredible woman, she has a special place in history during those turbulent and impossible times in South Africa. Unbelievable now, that apartheid could have ever happened, working in a multi-cultural city like London…there is so much we take for granted.

Zindzi spoke about the need to write this book so children can discover on their own terms about apartheid and the struggle to overcome it. She said children should get answers to the questions they have. The work of Nelson Mandela in ending apartheid is now legendary and his strength and stalwartness in the pursuit of peace and forgiveness should be shared across the world.

“For many years as black South Africans we were not allowed to have a voice, but now we have a voice. And we won’t stop talking! And we won’t stop writing!”

The video below gives some of the words from Zindzi.

Thembi Tambo, the High Commissioner for South Africa in London, welcomed the family and explained that Zindzi had gone through a difficult childhood when Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years.

Thembi Tambo explained also about the life experiences of Zindzi and how she has must have hidden away any anger and fears, remaining strong in her belief and in continuing her work. She said it was difficult to imagine a better way in which to allow children to access the information than through this book. “There are many stories but some are just too hard to share”.

The Mandela Legacy organisation helped in the promotion of the book, and in organising this event, to support those who wish to have a voice and create a platform for sustainable development.

The children helped to read Grandad Mandela and were also asked some questions about human rights. One of the answers was, “You can’t judge children by how we look and feel. We are all fine just as we are”.

A stunning answer from an eight year old. The book Grandad Mandela, the work of Nelson Mandela and now his family shows what can happen to make changes for the better and the enormous courage and work needed to make it happen.

Sue Martin,  FRSA

Continuing to reflect on happiness and social capital

The Office for National Statistics have this month (May 2017) just published another edition of the research generated by The Social Capital Project.

Read more here…

The ONS research key indicators of social capital to measure our societal constructs, begin by defining social capital as ‘…the connections and collective attitudes between people that result in a well-functioning and close-knit society‘.

Social captal, the ONS argues, is a useful indicator of ‘…positively functioning well-being, economic growth and sustainability‘.

(We like the framing concept. A better composite measure of human well-being, despite its overt press for economic growth. Better still than measures of ‘human capital’. Prof. Peter Fleming of the Cass Business School has, ahead of his new book The Death of Homo Economicus, written a comdemnatory article of this latter movement in the US journal aeon. Explore it further here…).

Social Capital in the UK 2017 - image and web link
View, print or download the full ONS Report here…

This new ONS Social Capital report builds upon a 2016 version, ‘Measuring national well-being: An analysis of social capital in the UK‘ .

The original twenty five key indicators have been modified slightly in this new edition, although the report intent and key analysis remains the same.

See the full ONS report here (.pdf).

The main findings:

1. The most recent data show a largely positive picture of social capital in the UK over the longer-term with over half of the indicators showing improvement over a period of 3 years; a majority of indicators showed improvement or no overall change over the shorter-term 1 year assessment.

2. Most adults in the UK have at least one close friend, rising from 95% in 2011 to 2012 to 97% in 2014 to 2015. However, there has been a fall in the proportion of people saying they have someone to rely on a lot in case of a serious problem; this figure fell from 86% in 2010 to 2011 to 84% in 2013 to 2014.

3. Over two-thirds of UK adults (68%) report stopping and talking to their neighbours in 2014 to 2015.

4. More people are engaging in unpaid volunteering; in 2010 to 2011 the figure was 17% compared with 19% in 2014 to 2015.

What we find interesting in a time where the surface layer of community would, taking a ‘tabloidest’ view perhaps, be comprised of dissent, emnity and huge inequality – there appears to be, in the human interactions referenced, a solidarity and an acceptance of the ‘the other’ that media headlines would deny.

The data presented indicates that this local solidarity is not shaded interpretation or government spin.

The broadly rising ‘close friendship’ indicator may be that in times of community erosion or flex, then people will talk to each other more, seeking a compassionate connection in the face of adverse societal perceptions.

That we now have less people to rely on in emergencies or difficulty may be an indicator as to the qualitative depth of those interactions. We are less likely, perhaps, to seek aid and succour from those whose political opinions, or economic empowerment, we now know radically differs from our own.

The indicator on neighbourliness, whilst good in itself, is a pointer to a shallower qualitative social encounter perhaps? (Not least further affected by the ‘Brexit’ referendum perhaps?

Working in the Third Sector, as we do, the most telling headline for us is the rise in volunteering. This can be a reflection of, for example, more food banks need more people to staff them. More likely, in times of fractious community or political change, the Third Sector and an engagement with it, sees the power of voluntary group activity continuing to manifest itself.

To create your community enterprise or social support service with volunteers provides balm to a troubled community, no doubt, but also increases self confidence, active participation and engagement in communities which hugely benefit the skill set and self-esteem of the person volunteering too, we would argue.

It is heartening that this indicator, in the report, shows a consistent rise from 2010 onwards.

Section Eight of the full report contains the Trust and Co-operative Norms data, drawn from a variety of sources. Whilst 70% of survey respondents say that ‘…most people in their immediate area can be trusted’, only 35% have trust in central Government, and only 35% of respondents indicated that ‘most people can be trusted’ on an aggregate view of their nation, or beyond their local neighbourhood.

In our small way, we work creating community projects across the UK, and work to engage a wide variety of families, children and young people and Third Sector organisations. Those communities, for us, are conditioned by their similarity, not their difference.

The old maxim, that cities are in fact a collection of villages, holds true, we think. From within, all our neighbourhoods, in our experience, are populated by individuals striving for their contentment and happiness, to add to their community’s social capital, if you will.

The measure of our own social capital, and happiness, from the reading of this ONS report is perhaps to step up the fight on inequality and to resist ‘tabloidism’ and the ‘three word headline’ when thinking in community or humanitarian modes.

You can read more about the ONS Social Capital Project on-line here.


Coda: The psychologist Robert Waldinger, in a TedTalk of 2015, discussed the findings of the Harvard Adult Development Study. Continuously tracking the lives of 724 adult U.S. males over a sustained period of 75+ years to now..

What can be drawn from the research is the immense importance of relationships and community, in the emergence of healthy, active and content lives. Clearly the pursuit of wealth, fame and other ‘commonsense’ consumerist goals for achievement fall away in terms of objective true value.

(See more at Security of attachment to spouses in late life: Concurrent and prospective links with cognitive and emotional wellbeing – Robert J. Waldinger et al – Accessed May 2017)

It is interesting that the ONS study above should be focused on human capital as a driver for economic growth. Whereas, in the Waldinger thesis, the very opposite is true of long-lived, happy humans.

Oh that government should directly invest in equal measure, then, in the voluntary sector, with all its diversity, complexity and community affinity, as it does in trying to achieve economic micro and macro permanent ‘market’ growth?

Now that would make us happy!

International Day of Happiness

A Happy School, image
Image: Yonjeee Lee – 12 years old, Rep. of Korea ‘A happy school is not only education, but also friendship…’

Pursuit of happiness is on the global development agenda, but not enough is being done to address learner well-being. UNESCO’s ‘Happy Schools’ framework (pdf) addresses the disparity.

The Global Partnership for Education has a wonderful blog referring to the UNESCO’s Happy Schools framework, whch was originally launched on March 20th 2012.

We hear so much about achievement and attainment levels and the need for testing and assessment so it was with real joy that I read the article and found that there are others who know that happiness is key to learning.

If a child is not happy they do not find it easy to learn!

Some of the source comments are quoted below. They makes inspiring reading and a great encouragement for education principles which believe in the word ‘educatio‘ meaning ‘leading out‘, rather than levels and testing assesments.

”Happiness has captivated great minds since ancient times, with thinkers as varied as Socrates, Aristotle, the Buddha, Confucius, John Locke and Johann Pestalozzi expounding on its nature and the importance of well-being in our lives. And today messages about the importance of well-being, mindfulness, positive thinking and how to live a more meaningful life seem ubiquitous.”

”Happiness has also become a dominant policy concern for the global community. The United Nations designated today, March 20, the International Day of Happiness in 2012 and identified the pursuit of happiness as “a fundamental human goal” the previous year, while the concept of well-being features across many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Just last month, the World Government Summit held in Dubai included a high-level Global Dialogue for Happiness, which examined the issue of happiness from a policy perspective. Speaking at the event, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said:

“Paying more attention to happiness should be a component of our efforts to achieve human and sustainable development.”

“But what role does and should happiness play in education?”

Sue Martin: SmithMartin Partnership and Books Go Walkabout

An Equal Start in Life – Finland’s Baby Box

Finnish Baby Boxes
Finnish Baby Boxes

One of the most beautiful things we have seen is the Baby Box for all newborns in Finland.

‘I started life in a box, we all did!’ said a colleague, who was proud of the equality given to all babies in Finland since 1938. An equal start, and an equality in society that is mirrored throughout life.

Every Finnish mother receives a maternity grant when baby is born.

We started to get really interested in the concept of the box. At our meeting in the Finnish Embassy, which was actually not to do with provision for babies, we were shown the most beautiful boxes. The box has a mattress and sleeping oufits so the baby can sleep in the box for several months of their life.

The contents of the box include all that you would need for a new baby, and in excellent quality. The clothes, including very warm snuggly ‘all in ones’ are in colours that are gender neutral, and really beautiful. Who would not to have one of these?

An equal start in life it really is. And an equality that pervades the whole of the Finnish culture.

The baby box has been available since 1938 and is provided as the maternity grant. Mothers can choose between cash and the box. Of the 60,000 grants distributed annually by Kela, Social Insurance Institution in Finland, two thirds are taken as maternity packages as the baby boxes with contents.

In the 1960’s sleeping bags first appeared in the boxes instead of quilts. By the 1980’s and 90’s families had become better off, but since the package remained as popular as ever it was decided to continue.

In the 2000’s the boxes continue and the contents are reviewed annually by a social insurance committee following a competitive tendering process, in which quality and affordability are equally important.
The boxes are available to purchase for anyone living outside Finland, who is not covered by the Finnish social security system, and can range from a Summer Basket to a Cold Winter Basket.

Our partnership is very socially minded and this idea has a huge appeal, so simple, so beautiful and yet so practical. It provides an equal start in life and a pride of life in a box shared by all citizens in Finland.

Kela Maternity Box

Sue Martin FRSA
SmithMartin Partnership

 

 

 

 

A Kellet thank you…

Following our recent delivery of Book Fest celebrations at The Kellet School in Hong Kong, the school have just published a short film thanking contributors to the Annual Fund activities across the academic year.

We were delighted that our team of authors were able to make such a great contribution to the learning and understanding of the writers craft. (Our delivery is featured at 2 mins 30 secs.)

The Kellet School children produced a vast amount of very high quality work from the BgW week, as you can see from the film.

We were delighted to be able to contribute and know that our authors would be happy to return to Hong Kong any time. Thank you to everyone who took part in Book Fest from us too!

The Team at SmithMartin LLP – Books go Walkabout

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Awards for Social Enterprise

socialenterpriseawardsLogoIf you are a social enterprise active for two years or more, and can meet the published criteria, you can now apply to the Social Enterprise Awards 2016.

The application process is now open and you will find the criteria and award categories on this page of socialenterprise.org.uk

The full application process is similarly available on-line from the same site. See more here.

Award categories available this year include…

  • One to Watch Award
  • Social Impact Award
  • Buy Social – the market builder award
  • Social Investment Deal of the Year
  • Health & Social Care Social Enterprise
  • Consumer Facing Social Enterprise
  • Education, Training and Jobs Social enterprise of the Year
  • Environmentla Social Enterprise of the Year
  • Inspiring Youth Enterprise Award
  • Social Enterprise Women’s Champion
  • International Impact

There is plenty to go for. Plenty of awards to reflect the diversity, ambition and range of economic activity with a social heart across our regions.

If you do apply, the very best of luck.

Please note: Closing date for applications is Friday, 8th July 2016

(Source: http://socialenterprise.org.uk/about/social-enterprise-awards/2016-awards-catergories (Accessed: 10.06.2016)

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Helping enterprise grow…

Books for a school in the Philippines

Books for Philippines
Packing for the Philippines…

Books Go Walkabout have recently sent parcels of books to the Philippines with parents from Kellett Care, delivering social projects for Kellett School, Hong Kong.

Committee members and parents are travelling to the Philippines to meet directly with the teachers and children, and delivering the books as part of their work with Kellett Care. They are also taking goods that have been bought with funds from parents and these packages include essential items for the school, such as pencils, paper and stationary.

The books from Books Go Walkabout are picture books and will be used by the school to enable further work on reading and writing. We hope that this will bring some stories of faraway places to their shores and also to help and encourage them in learning to read and to write.

We are hoping to continue our work with the school in the future and help in other ways to support reading, writing and communication. We want to share aour love of reading and sharing stories and books across the world.

Books Go Walkabout is a global project, based in Cambridge, UK and is a part of SmithMartin Partnership LLPVisit Books go Walkabout on-line...

Sue Martin & Tim Smith

BooksGoWalkabout.com

Inequality in Education,
Turning the Tide

IETT 12 Oct 2‘The Future of Education in England’ an event at Royal Society for the Arts, London, was held on October 5th 2015 by the Inequality in Education Team.

Inequality in Education…turning the tide (IETT) is a movement to alter the balance of educational opportunity in the UK. In England inequality is a key social and political issue. Education has a vital role to play in abolishing inequality in society. Young people’s destiny is still determined largely by their social position at birth.

Presenting arguments demonstrating the inequality in our current education system were; Dianne Reay, Professor of Education, at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography of the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Oxford, UK.

(SmithMartin Partnership is pleased to support the IETT in delivery of their website and engagement with partners. Education is key to our work and every day we see the effects of inequality in education in communities across the country.)

This is both unfair to children and their future lives but also a waste of opportunity and economically disadvantageous to our society as a whole.
Those societies who truly value children and education will thrive in the future.

Professor Diane Reay led with questions;
What needs to change to achieve greater equality in schooling?
What needs to change for the key indicators below to improve?’

Key indicators are;
” The degree of difference in educational attainment levels across different classes and ethnic groups.
” The levels of well-being and happiness of school students
” The difference in spending per pupil across different types of schools
” The levels of segregation and polarisation between schools and within them
” The degree to which all children have access to a broad and balanced curriculum
” Teachers levels of professional satisfaction and autonomy

IETT 12 OctProfessor Danny Dorling, who studies the social implications of educational under achievement from a geographical position posed four interesting questions.
” Is a more expensive education really a more privileged one?
” Have you learnt a great deal if you are awarded many A*stars?
” Do we value memorising above problem solving and experimentation?

” Can we imagine a schooling system without so much testing of children?

There was considerable discussion and examples of an educational system that is built on test results and ‘cut throat’ competition, with major funding discrepancies.

Inequality in Education, Turning the Tide (IETT), is developing across the UK and will continue to create a body of opinion with educational practitioners and academic research leading the way to unravel the current inequalities, present a reasoned argument and hold to account those who implement policy and direction of education in the UK.

We believe that education is a fundamental right as quoted in Unesco – The Right to Education, and that the UK should be delivering a free, equal and fair education to all its children.

Sue Martin – Educational Consultant SmithMartin Partnership LLP

Kate Grenville at the Australia and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts

Kate Grenville, One Life, a new book from Cannongate...
See more here…

Kate Grenville was in conversation at the Australia and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts in London on Saturday 30th May, 2015.

The great pleasure in being a bookseller and publisher is the opportunity to hear, and develop a wider understanding of, great authors and their work.

Kate’s new book One Life, has just been published with Canongate Books. It is the story about her mother Nance, born in 1912 in New South Wales.

A remarkable story, not because Nance became famous or wealthy, but because the story is about a woman growing up in a harsh family in Australia in the 1920’s and onwards.

After training as a pharmacist, she went to work in a local chemist and learnt much more about life than dispensing drugs.

Kate Grenville has a remarkable way of telling a story and after a few minutes of conversations and readings from One Life, it felt that we knew this woman Nance, her character of directness and ambition, striving to do all she could to make the most of life. As a young girl this was not easy at that time, but her determination was unstoppable!

It was a schoolteacher who changed her life and Mr Crisp, left her with a love of literature. Nance instilled in Kate a love of words, Nance had poetry in her mind and was able to deliver apposite quotes just when needed.

This was an amazing chance to listen to Kate Grenville and also hear about the very special book, The Secret River. The Secret River, by Kate Grenville

So now to read the book, One Life, from the opening pages it will be a book that will be hard to put down.

Check out the website for further conversations and adventures at the Aus and NZ Fest with lots of exciting authors.

Sue Martin