The system of social services structured in its modern way over the past two centuries
entered a new era with the “austerity” measures adopted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. They have resulted in both massive cuts to the provision of welfare and social care and profound restructuring of how the most vulnerable members of society are treated.
Of particular concern for this Working Group are the dispersion of care into complex relations between local agencies (e.g. community mental health care; interagency work in children’s services) and the ways in which this reconfiguration risks a relative erasure of memory and the capacity for lived experiences of care to be retained and commemorated.
Experience with institutions of the welfare state are ubiquitous, but the ways in which they are remembered must be resurfaced and newly understood. This theme seeks to inform current practices and attitudes towards social care via a reconnection to past experiences.
Engagement with and collaborations between users and care leavers (past, present and future) across the various areas to be studied will help inform a new approach that takes into account new economic realities whilst at the same time ensuring that best practice is not a forgotten element of this increasingly important and pressing issue. Service users will be central to the work of WG2, which will use slow memory concepts within a co-production
model to articulate the lived experience of welfare transitions.
A particular concern will be to overcome the division between academic knowledge and expertise through experience developing a dialogic practice through which knowledge
is developed and transmitted through service user networks and organisations can be mobilised and made central to debates around slow memory.
Stakeholders involved in this WG will include mental health providers, care institutions
and networks, and specialised memorial museums devoted to the history of welfare, child services, and poverty.