Latest News

Webinar with the Green Party this Thursday 14th January
Join us to explore putting community, relationships and democracy back as the principles that define how we care for each other in post-Covid Britain

International Association for Community Development - LivesthroughFriends IACD article


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Individual Service Funds - Routemap

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Whorlton Hall Tragedy - How many more avoidable tales of terror?

No doubt many of us have seen the Panorama expose? For years we've been asking Joe Plomin, the producer of both this and the previous Winterbourne View programmes, to follow up with an investigation into the system that gives rise to these horrors. We wrote again to him this morning... Perhaps you'd like to ask Joe too? At

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Taking the Wrong Turning

For how much longer will our policy makers fail to recognise the crucial importance of community work - both as a key strand of social work and as a focus for meaningful participatory democracy - in pursuit of a Good Society? See Bob's analysis in this article penned for The Common Platform and Deeper Democracy

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Have your say and help us radically change the direction of community and social services policy throughout the UK.
We would welcome your insights.

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Register for Strengths-Based Practice Study Group - November 8th

To register go to

View the Programme here:

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Save the Date - Strengths-Based Practice Study Group

Our next Study Group Event will be hosted by Gwent Archives in Ebbw Vale on Wednesday 8th November - 0945 - 1530.
There's still time to add your story/issue to an exciting agenda including social prescribing, work with 14 - 25 year olds with additional needs, and community development in a Carers' context. Registration will be launched in September. As always this is co-produced and free!

SCIE seems to think that Co-production is all about services - Bob Disagrees

We think that co-production is just essential good practice - a recognition that institutions and professionals are there to support and advise but, only in extremis ever take over someone else's life...

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Grassroots Community Work - a Parish Council responds to the impact consumerism, and austerity

See Bob's blog - he'll be following the progress of this initiative every couple of months for the coming year.

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See LivesthroughFriends' analysis and proposed solutions at Is Brexit an Opportunity to Sort Out Social Care? | Publications by A-Z | Library | The Centre for
Welfare Reform

Pre-Election Analysis re 'Care'

The Alliance for Camphill asked Bob to write something for their blog. You can view it at

Bob's Vancouver Presentation

Bob's Vancouver Presentation

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Some Challenging Advice!

A Joint Commissioner asked me for some advice in respect of a Values and Principles Statement to be included in a Challenging Behaviour Services Strategy. I thought long and hard and concluded that you might be interested in my conclusions?

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On Eggheads promoting Best Buddies

An Update (April 2015) - We've been very busy!

I'm afraid that we've let real life get in the way of updating our website over recent months - but I guess that this is really positive because we've been upto our necks in helping professionals engage in strengths-based practice, in helping people gain or regain both control and responsibility for their own lives, and in assisting them to recognise their gifts and competences and to move from dependence on commodified services towards a reciprocal interdependence with others where services serve their proper purpose.
To pick out some "headlines":
* we've continued to work closely with Monmouthshire County Council as this inspirational local authority works doggedly and joyfully towards a real and lasting 'partnership' with its fortunate citizens. Inter-alia we've worked on Transitions, 'My Life My Day' development and implementation, introducing strengths-based practice with social work teams, and begun a review of self-advocacy arrangements in harness with Hijinx Theatre Company.
*We're working closely with The Partnership Board and Joint Commissioners in Gloucestershire, utilising the LivesthroughFriends Practice Framework, to demonstrate better and more sustainable ways to reverse the "Winterbourne View" narrative that sticks to so many folk who acquire very challenging reputations,
* We've worked with long-term professional friends and associates to get Best Buddies UK off the ground and even appeared on Eggheads to publicise the cause. 'Best Butties' is ready to roll in the Forest of Dean!
*And our international work continues with Bob and Colin traveling to Athens in May to work with family led organisations once again - this time re. building sustained relationship networks tailored to Greek life.
So that's just a taste. We'll try to be more attentive in future!

Chilling NCIA Report on the plight of the marketized voluntary sector

NCIA's independent report on the decline and fall of true voluntarism in profit-obsessed Britain makes depressing reading. Get the full report from or click here

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Ground breaking Report from Vanguard and Locality - read it!

"Saving Money by Doing the Right Thing - Why 'local by default' must replace 'diseconomies of scale' in our public services", gives all the evidence that any one could possibly need to justify ending the scarcity and deficits approach of scaling and centralisation that has progressively eaten away both the capability and humanity of OUR communities over the last decades. It demonstrates how scale and standardisation have been proved to be no solution to helping citizens and families and exposes the immense societal and financial costs that result from failure to respond to what people really need. This should be a game-changing report - if only those with power have the intelligence and humility to reflect and act on it without face-saving compromise.
Go to or for more

Friendship - Developing Best Buddies in the UK

Everybody who knows anything about LivesthroughFriends is aware that we are almost obsessively committed to the principle that no-one should be alone and the most powerful thing that we can do for each other is to ensure that we all have the belonging that comes from loving, caring and social capital rich relationships. So we're really excited about the opportunity to work with Best Buddies International to make this outcome real and fulfilling for lots more disabled folk in the UK. Do you want to be part of this initiative to develop a vibrant development force for friendship? Could you be part of establishing a high profile national development group? We'd love to hear from you!
To know more about Best Buddies go to

Regulation - The Unintentional Destruction of Intentional Communities

In this important discussion paper the authors examine the case of the Camphill Village Trust (CVT) - an intentional community which seeks to bring disabled and non-disabled people together in a community of equals. They argue that the regulatory system has effectively ignored the culture and values of this community and instead asserted a set of values which assume that care can be commodified, bought and sold, and controlled like a manufactured product.
Read the report at or click below

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Enabling Good Lives Newsletter

See how our New Zealand friends are working to empower citizens and catch up with what Bob has been doing "down under" - click on this link:

Thornbury Time Bank

LivesthroughFriends are leading on the development of a Time Bank in Thornbury. We are currently seeking to engage a local Time Bank Broker to help further this development alongside a group of people with learning disabilities.
Contact for more details

Strengths-based Monmouthshire

In our day to day experience there aren't too many places left in the UK where the priorities of public bodies continue to be getting it right for their citizens rather than complying with imposed targets. Misguided and anti-democratic, austerity justified attacks on fundamental public services make the lives of local authorities frustrating and far too demanding everywhere, but counties like Monmouthshire demonstrate that by working to strengthen and empower families and communities the resources available for public benefit are significantly enhanced.

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THE GREEN BOOK - Caring for Each Other Sustainably

Written by Bob Rhodes, with emotive contributions from Colin Campbell and Ken Davies, it explores the crisis in care in the UK through the media of stories, questions, opinions, poems, rhymes and songs. It strives to get beyond reason - to make you laugh and cry. Describing the book, Richard Davis writes: We are at many crossroads, we need above all to change the way we think. As Ackoff said, we won’t make progress by doing the wrong things righter. This book is a challenge to current thinking but neither is it a prescription for the warm and woolly. The consequences would be a better society and a cheaper one. Do you want to be strong and different or weak and similar?

To purchase a copy simply CLICK HERE TO Buy Now using PayPal

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The burgeoning Study Group of 11 Welsh and 2 English Local Authorities met at the Dylan Thomas Centre as pampered guests of Swansea Council last Thursday and wrestled with the challenges of generalising, promoting and properly implementing strengths-based thinking, policy and practice. Discussions were stimulated by presentations from Simon Pickthall, Ken Davies, Ruth Dineen and Chris Ashman - to see their powerpoints drop us an email

Imagine Better\'s More to Life than Services Conference programme published

Bob will be travelling Auckland in November to contribute to this 3 day event which has been framed around the questions and challenges raised in Much More to Life than Services. See the programme

The Green Book - Caring for Each Other Sustainably is out!

If you want your copy now it\\\'s available from lots of on-line and in-store bookshops or directly from the publisher at Catch up with Bob personally and you can have a signed copy at a bargain price!

If you wait a little longer you\\\'ll be able to get it from lots of retailers, download the ebook, or, best of all, directly from us!

It\\\'s jammed with stuff to make you think, laugh and, if you are of a sensitive nature, blub. We hope you enjoy it!

Challenging folk to DARE TO WANT A LIFE!

Recently Bob was asked to contribute a Keynote and Workshops to PEP\\\'s (Hampshire Personalisation Expert Panel) \\\"Breathing New Life into Personalisation \\\" Event in Winchester. Afterwards the organisers asked him to reflect on the outcomes of his sessions. Here are his initial thoughts...

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Much More to Life than Services is available in ebook format - from all the usual on-line sources.

You could download it now at

Much More To Life Than Services

Inspiring Day with Hants Personalisation Expert Panel

On April 20th Bob travelled to Winchester to share the day with 70 disabled people and family members who are day by day experts in the rigours of social care services. The organiser, Esi Hardy, wrote the next day to say, \\\"The feedback that we have had from your workshop and presentation is very positive and will definitely help to shape the way to work with service users in the future.\\\"
During the day Bob had run workshops enabling folk to tell themselves about the potential richness of their relationships and associations in comparison with the limitations imposed by needs-focused services.

Little Loner - a father's love

Ken Davies - an LtF Board member - reflects in this lovely sonnet on autism, parenthood and the power of love.

Little Loner

Child, how I pondered on your gaze of stone,
your mute rejection of my rash embrace,
the iron will with which you stayed alone,
the puzzlement that froze your angel face.
Your loveless ordering and dumb control
willed me to dredge that hidden quality
from deep dark fathoms unknown to my soul
that piece by piece would build the better me.
And then one day you graced me with your smile
and warmly sought the comfort of my hand
as if to bid me stay and share awhile
your secret fears about the future and
how we two could take on all that life sends
if we walked on together as good friends.

A Different Paradigm for Social Care Regulation?

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Another story

Following on from TQ Twenty-One's exciting Conference, Bob wrote a piece for their house journal. Here's a support brokerage oriented version:

Bob to present International Initiative on Disability Leadership Webinar

Bob will be presenting an IIDL webinar at 7pm (UK time) on Thursday 6th December. If you want to join you\'ll need to sign up at
The webinar is entitled, \"Much More to Life than Services\" and will draw on the key key themes in Bob\'s 2010 book and LivesthroughFriends\' subsequent reflections and learning.

And one of Bob's verses, from our soon to be published book

It’s the Toughest of Commissions – A song with many tunes (Welsh hymn tunes work best)

There’s a hoarding at the station
That in 12 by 8 proclaims
The joy of urban living
Is that little life remains

Chorus (between each verse and to end)
It’s the toughest of commissions
To reverse such powerful trends
Fighting the persuasive grooming
On which commerce still depends

Work Shop Play is its prescription
For contentment in this day
We’re habitual consumers
For as long as we can pay

It is a clear reflection
Mirrors that we have lost touch
With the essences of living
Now we don’t amount to much

If teachers raise our children
To plans laid down by number ten
And we warehouse our dear grannies
Safeguarded they say by them

If we mustn’t trust our neighbours
As professionals know best
We’re all wage slaves and we know it
At the money men’s behest

The real joy in urban living
Comes when citizens relate
Organise around what matters
Redirect the winds of fate

Rediscover in their trials
Civilisation will renew
When the efforts of the people
Reward all not just a few

When we’ve love for those who’ve raised us
Time to be the hands of care
Made a village for our children
Parishes that all can share

So don’t succumb to entertainment
Punditry celebrity
Active in association’s
Much more satisfactory

Ready for the revolution
That will come unstoppably
When the dispossessed redundant
Exceed those who think they’re free

When we’re back in nature’s kilter
Back in touch with you and me
We will sustain one another
Work Shop Play’s dark history

It’s the toughest of commissions
To reverse such powerful trends
Fighting the persuasive grooming
On which commerce still depends

©Bob Rhodes 2012

LtF's close friend, Bernard Pearson, was moved by our inspirational Greek friends

He wrote this poem:

It’s said that when we die, we fly
Aware for the first time of the air
Below our feet and behind our wings,
Feeling more intensely the heat of the sun
And in this death we see our life as if a dream.
Frantic, not knowing what will come next
Like a child’s nonsense rhyme.
But what if we fly now, lightened into nothing
Brightening for a moment like the embers of some meteorite
Glowing in the knowledge we love and are loved
And as we glide these thermals ride then tumble for a while
Knowing not whether we have travelled through eternity
Or taken our first step along some long forgotten country mile.

© Bernard Pearson

And finally (for now) Bob's attempt to "Take the Bones Out" of what we were learning

Then Colin on how we need to be good at "Rocket Science"...

And Joe Powell's stirring story...

More from the TQ Twenty-one Conference

Presentations and workshops from the event were recorded, in print and DVD/Audio so that the hundreds who weren't able to be with us on the day would have access to the debate. Some examples are appended - first Bob's introduction...

LivesthroughFriends evidence to the Cross Party Group on Disability in the Welsh Assembly

Place much more emphasis on INTERDEPENDENCE and Social Capital is LtF\'s message to policy makers in Wales...

TQ Twenty-One Conference - 4th October 2012

Bob helped organise and then facilitated TQ Twenty-One's Annual Conference - No More "Yes, Buts..." - with the theme of developing support for self-direction and contributing citizenship in this inspirationally led organisation. See his three key brief presentations (merged into one doc.) here

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What goes around...

See Bob's 'meditation' - Simon Duffy's description - following Fellows' Day at The Centre for Welfare Reform at What Goes Around... | Browse by Type | Library | The Centre for Welfare Reform
or, less attractively, at the link below

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Breaking News - Much More to Life in New Zealand and now Japan!

In addition to travelling to New Zealand in 2013 in association with Imagine Better, Bob will be visiting Japan where he will collaborate with the University of Waseda and the City of Saitama, exploring the possible applications of the Much More to Life than Services approach as a sustainable alternative to further marketization of 'care'.

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Severn & Marches Local Area Coordination Study Group

Click here for details of the Learning & Development Group and the exciting programme for its first meeting on April 19th at Llanishen, Monmouthshire.

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Stimulating debate with Welsh Assembly Members

LtF convened an eminent platform of parent activists, user-led organisations and community builders to debate the proposal that policy should place greater emphasis upon nurturing strong and interdependent communities - see the introductory presentation by clicking here

Welsh Assembly Seminar Programme - 8th February 2012

Contributors include Ken & Gareth Davies, Steve Harris, Ralph Broad, Luke Conlon, Rick Wilson - organised and facilitated by Bob Rhodes

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Welsh Assembly Members' Seminar rescheduled

Reforming Social Care - Putting Citizens and their Communities back at the centre of how we care for each other in Wales will now take place at 6pm on Tuesday 7th February 2012.

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Not all crisis in Greece! Let's learn from Petagma!

Over more than the last decade Bob's been working with families, NGO's and government agencies in Greece with a view to developing sustainable personalised and community based support arrangements for and with people with intellectual disabilities and their families. One of these - Petagma, an inspirational family led organisation that provides supported living, innovative short breaks, and extensive peer support and stimulus - celebrated its 10th anniversary with a very successful conference at the national parliament on October 18th. Bob and his guest, Luke Conlon (Director of Community Choice and Inclusion) gave the keynote seminar and workshop on the theme of "sustaining a high quality approach - making your insstitution a catalyst for care".

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Thornbury ABCD consultation

Colin Campbell, Co-Director of LivesthroughFriends, has been working with a number of families in Thornbury who have a close relative who require ongoing care & support due to their disability. Recently, Colin, alongside Sheila and Andrew Forsythe (local residents) undertook a community consultation day to gather views from local people about their community and to gain information about how to include more people in the community by helping each other. Asset Based Community Development & Participatory approaches were used to engage with local people. See attached report for a summary of what people told us.


Bob Rhodes and Ralph Broad argue that social work and social care should return to the thinking set out in the Barclay report and renew their commitment to community.
Read the Discussion Paper at

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Local Area Coordination, Strengths based Approaches and Time Banking

See Ralph Broad and Lawrence Hughes' presentations here

Denis Rowley on relationships

and Equal Futures

Bob Rhodes opens the debate

Jim Diers' on fire at

A Conversation about Care

read his presentation here



How can we put relationships and associations back at the centre of how we care for each other?

Wednesday 6th July, 0915 – 1645, at ‘The Conference Centre’, Gloucester Rugby, Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester, GL1 3AX.

£75 + vat (includes lunch and refreshments)

1. KEYNOTE: Jim Diers, Participatory Democracy expert from Seattle

2. Bob Rhodes, author of “Much More to Life than Services” and leader in strengths-based inclusive practice
3. Richard Davies, Organisational Psychologist and Consultant at Vanguard, interested in the design of public services
4. Martin Simon, author of “Your Money or Your Life – Time for Both”, Martin brought Time Banking to the UK
5. Ralph Broad, expert on Local Area Coordination in the UK and social care reform
6. Denis Rowley animates Equal Futures, a Scottish parent-led organisation

Despite the wealth of inputs, this is one of those events where the word ‘conference’ is not the best fit, it will be more about conversation and a little less about presentation, more about participation and less about consuming information. This is a genuine invitation to a conversation that really matters, to discuss questions that do not have predefined answers, and to work with around 100 leaders, thinkers and practitioners from across the UK to identify possibilities for actionable change towards a more caring society.

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LivesthroughFriends in partnership with Vanguard are hosting the crucial conversation -"How can we put relationships and associations back at the centre of how we care for each other?"
With Jim Diers, Martin Simon, Bob Rhodes, Denis Rowley, Ralph Broad and Richard Davis and100 key UK innovators, thinkers and practitioners on Wednesday 6th July at Gloucester Rugby Conference Centre. See Latest News for full details
For Booking Form

Bob to speak at Vanguard Care Conference - May 10th

"Other work being undertaken challenges the fundamentals of what we as individuals want out of life and, in particular, if we become dependent upon the support of others. The work of Bob Rhodes challenges the commonly held misconception that institutions and services can or should be seen as a comprehensive solution..." (From the Conference invitation)
Bob's presentation - "Unintended Consequences" is available for Download

Your Money or Your Life - Time for Both

Martin Simon's moving and optimistic analysis of Timebanking is an invitation to change your life and to be a joyful part of a movement where the giving and receiving of care and and hospitality is actively regenerating communities. It is available from or Waterstones and other online book retailers at £12.50

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big/our society? We need to be bilingual!

The language of government and it's institutions - statutory, voluntary and private is the language of control, of business, of CONTRACTS.
The language of communities is different, based upon consensus, trust, free association, of RELATIONSHIPS.

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No One Alone

On the 10th November a large group of people attended the "No One Alone" learning event. Dave, from Neighbours International, produced this graphic depicting a "Good Life".

Newcastle ABCD Event

Download Jim Diers presentation from Newcastle event

Gloucestershire Community Development Workshop

On the 7th Oct Cormack Russell conducted an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) event in Churchdown.
Download Jim Diers presentation from the day.


Download the notes and programme here for Boston College's, 'by invitation only', 'new thinking' event in Dublin on November 15th...

See Simon Duffy's insightful review of "Much More to Life than Services" by Bob Rhodes

A momentous week (and a bit...) for Community Building and real and sustainable Inclusion

All the feedback - and subsequent explosion in grassroots activity - indicates that our week focused upon community building with Cormac Russell and Jim Diers has proved to be inspirational and empowering for a very large percentage of the folk who joined our conversations in Newcastle, Gloucester, The Forest of Dean, and (with Bob and Cormac) in Dublin. There's no point, as Cormac put it, in "not taking advantage of a good crisis" and there's little doubt that the strengths and gifts focused message of ABCD offers the prospect of hope and sustainability that is lacking from a bureaucratic analysis of the current crisis in the economic system.

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Cormac Russell explains the strength based approach

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A Great Introduction to the Big Society from Jim Diers

Jim prepared this in Australia but it strikes a very loud chord here!
Recommended reading!

Organisations,self-direction & personalisation

Over recent years we've been keeping an eye on lots of different social care organisations as they have sought to come terms with and/or embrace the challenges associated with supporting people to both take control of their lives and achieve good, relationship-rich, and contributing lifestyles.

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LivesthroughFriends will be running another NBN accredited Support Brokerage course in the South West beginning in March 2011. The course will be delivered by Bob Rhodes & Colin Campbell.

email for an outline of the course:

LivesthroughFriends on Twitter

You can follow our occasional musings and insights on twitter.

Have you read Much More to Life than Services?

by Bob Rhodes, LivesthroughFriends Co-Director, Much More to Life than Services was published in 2010:

Much More to Life than Services...asks our social care professionals to use their skills, resources and knowledge to help people to come together and "visualise, plan and implement their own support". The book is a means to an end, a brilliant and sharp reminder to bring about a culture change for the better.
Martin Simon (Chief Executive - Time Banking UK).

You can purchase a copy of Much More To Life Than Services through PayPal using the BUY NOW button below.

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