Raymond Williams Foundation (RWF)
Newsletter Number 9
1. It is exactly a year ago when, anticipating closure of Wedgwood Memorial College (WMC), plans were first drafted to present a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) proposal for an independent Trust to run the College in Barlaston. WMC has been, of course, the residential centre for RWF and so time, energy and resources have been devoted over the past year to the www.savewmc.org Campaign. The College was closed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 1st April 2012, but the Campaign has continued with plans to re-open the College.
2. These plans now include the launch of a WMC Community Benefit Society – a Co-operative which will run a ‘virtual’ College, with trustees from RWF, the WEA and other educational charities. Residential courses and Day Schools on selected social, political, philosophical and cultural themes will be promoted on the new WMC web-site and through RWF linked networks. The new WMC Co-operative will be able to incorporate the College in Barlaston, if the campaign to re-open the site, run by an independent educational trust, is successful.
3. Meanwhile, the RWF AGM was held in May during the Wortley Hall mid-week residential – which continued the annual RW weekend Barlaston tradition, successfully recruiting forty residential participants. The very positive feed-back on this small-group, big-issues, pub-discussion methodology can be read on our RWF web-site. Any readers of this Newsletter without computers are recommended to access information on this, and other RWF developments, at a local library - or printed copy summary/ies can be posted, on request. Phone 01538 370067.
4. The AGM was well attended and approved the appointment of Karen (Kaz) Carlin as RWF Administrative Assistant. The work-load for RWF, and especially its Administrator, has increased. The reason for this being not just activity within the above campaign, but more positively – expansion through residential courses linked to the growing network of informal pub* discussions on ‘big questions and issues’. The National Co-ordinator, Paul Doran, of Philosophy in Pubs (PiPs), the largest of these networks, is an RWF Trustee. (*‘Pub’ can also include café, bar, church-hall and other venues).
5. The RWF Residential Library Reading Retreat Scheme, launched last autumn has been an interesting experiment. Only small numbers of individuals have applied for grants and only a minority of the residential centres within the scheme have therefore been involved. Even so, ‘readers’ and ’researchers’ did book, supported by RWF grants, for short residential retreats at Knuston Hall; the Gladstone Library; Hawkwood College; Holy Rood House (also a small-group supported here) and Luther King House. Feed-back from individuals at these centres was positive. However, the most dramatic success, using funding dedicated to this scheme came with the two RWF residential seminars at Wortley Hall, benefitting at least fifty adults. The evaluations on these stressed the exceptional value for ‘reading, research and discussion’. This, we feel, is the future for this project - supporting, through subsidy – group bookings focused on these aims, developing networks, courses and links as in 5. above. Hence, a shift in RWF funding from individual and ‘external’ group applications to more RWF and partner initiated work? Discussion on this will continue through to the next AGM.
Thanks for your continued support.
Derek Tatton, RWF Administrator www.raymondwilliamsfoundtion.org.uk
Extracts from Newsletter Number 8
e-mailed and posted to members early July 2011
We continue to receive, and approve (within our obviously limited budget) new applications and in the last month a project – soundly based – in Southern India, assisting women and families with desperate economic and educational needs, has been given support. Currently two more applications are under consideration - a working class oral history scheme in East London and a project in Central Africa similar to those in Nepal and Southern India already supported. Trustees will be discussing the ‘balance’ of our grants given that a pattern of applications is evolving - local, regional, national and international, with different emphases across broad educational provision.
Wortley Hall (WH), near Sheffield, has been really helpful, accepting in storage approx. 12,000 books (most of the library from Wedgwood Memorial College (WMC), and also the Jack Taylor WEA bequest of political philosophy books). Arrangements are on-going for sifting and placing these books on shelves, as appropriate at WHall and, later, other venues. This within the Residential Library – Reading Retreat scheme which will operate as a ‘pilot’ for one year… WH will be the venue for two RWF residentials in the autumn this year.
RWF is now formally represented on the WMC ‘Steering Committee’ - a report on the 6th July meeting of that committee will be posted on the web-site.
Discussion Circles of one kind and another continue to grow and develop. PiPs which began on Merseyside over ten years ago is now national and held its first residential weekend at The Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool from 10-12th June this year. Several RWF Trustees and members were present and I was one of three guest speakers but most of the weekend was devoted to discussion on various themes. The flexibility of PiPs, and other Discussion Circles - as in North Staffs, or café philosophique, and Sci-bars – enables haphazard growth.
The relatively new Free University of Slawit (Slaithwaite, West Yorks) meets in the Commercial Pub and a recent newsletter acknowledges that this success ‘is inspired by the pub discussion groups promoted by RWF (giving the web-site address)’. The aim is to enable progression (with additional funding for subsidy) from these informal meetings to professionally taught day, weekly and residential courses. Up-dates on this will be posted on our web-site.
Summary from Newsletter Number 7 April 2011
The Agenda and Trustee voting papers for the forthcoming AGM were sent out by our Membership Secretary on 12th April. The AGM takes place, as always, within the annual RW wend residential and The Spirit Level theme this year has filled the College (up to 50). We are again organizing an informal preliminary to AGM discussion meeting for all members, 4.00pm for tea and cake, Fri 6th May, followed by the meeting. Comment by e-mail on issues and developments summarized here and elsewhere on these web-pages are also welcome from non-members anytime.
As reported in earlier Newsletters, RWF does not have a large membership but with a good (steadily increasing) number of Life Members we are viable and able to focus on our aims, funding appropriate projects whilst extending our network of partners and contacts.
This web-site has crept up the ‘google ladder’. Contact within the last month from Sydney, Australia (exchanges on pub/café meeting philosophy notes) ; from South America and Nepal (clinching RWF funding for a women’s education project) demonstrates work-in-progress.
These are tough times for charities, as for everyone. There are predictions that up to a third of charities will close down in the next few years and most, if not all, survivors will experience a fall in support and income. Our informal network - using web, e-mail and phone for development and even decision-making (no costly infrastructure) - should enable continued work collaboratively and in partnership with other charities and organisations.
Positive signs of this include a recent initiative by our Vice-Chair, John Kay, opening potential for partnership with Wortley Hall, near Sheffield on day and residential courses. More than that, Wortley Hall will join, accommodating specialist books, for the residential library project. The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere and Luther King House are now participating too taking the number of centres nationally involved to twelve . Full report and then approval for developments will be sought at the AGM. See special web-page on this project.
Derek Tatton, RWF Administrator.
Summary of Newsletter Number 6 January 2011
1. Projects for which support has been given during 2011 includeanNhAN : SEA Conference at WMC on Key Educational Issues for 2011 – Surveying the Landscape. Sat 26 February;
Railway Workers’ Culture Day School, with the WEA, Darlington Sat 9th April; subsidy for recently unemployed member to attend Literature tutorial at Barlaston; Issues in Politics WEA course; Rural Women’s Network for Education (RUWON) in Nepal; the annual RW W/end at WMC, 6-8th May on The Spirit Level; individual students for an annual Keele Summer School. Projects likely to gain support include an RW Society Day School on People of the Black Mountains at WMC and a Geology Day in Berwick-upon-Tweed.
2. Interesting to note thatRaymond Williams’ reputation is global - visitors to this web site are registered from the USA, Brazil, China, India, Australia and so on. It was through the web that contact was made - and now a partnership developing - with RUWON, Nepal. In coming months arrangements will be made on how best partnership funding from RWF will be able to assist education for some of the most desperately poor on the planet.
3. Plans are on-going for a residential library project as reported under head-line on this site
4. Work for projects and developments, above, is done mainly by e-mail and phone contact with a small group of RWF officers and activists (six) assisting and guiding the RWF Administrator. RWF has twenty trustees nationally, all of whom are involved with decision making on key issues. The network involving other charities, organizations and volunteers is wide and growing especially through the informal pub, café and bar discussion groups. However, gaining active and younger volunteers remains a priority for us, as for other charities.
5. Support for RWF increases steadily. A recent substantial bequest commitment and a donation of £500 indicates that our aims and achievements are seen to be worthy of generous financial backing. Membership renewals (January) with new subscriptions and donations, however modest, welcome anytime. AGM: preliminary discussion and planning 6 May, decisions 7 May
With thanks to all members, and best wishes for 2011.
Derek Tatton, RWF Administrator: email@example.com ; 01538 370067
1. Funding agreed for autumn this year includes:
Chad Goodwin’s The Promise of Socialism… at WMC, Barlaston.
The RWF subsidy for this has really worked: 19 booked by 26 August for this
late September week-end and we know that these numbers are high
because of the reduced-fee offer.
We can be confident that RWF funding has contributed to viability of these autumn
WB Yeats w/end at WMC in September
Big Questions… mid-week at Burton Manor in September
Arnold Bennett w/end at WMC in October
2. The proposed theme for our RW w/end in 2011 will be:
Why Equality is Better for Everyone. This is the sub-title of the
widely acclaimed book The Spirit Level (Penguin 2010)
Venue confirmation and date for this has been delayed because of the review on the
future of the WMC, Barlaston. As soon as details are available they will be posted
on this web-site.
3. These are hard times for charities, as for everyone. The Charity Commission’s latest
up-date on Collaborative Working and Mergers has a Foreword which offers this new
‘… exploring opportunities for collaborative working and mergers are part and parcel of trusteeship in the present climate… an effective charity explores collaboration or partnership with other organisations.’
Almost all our 25 funded projects within the last two years have involved partnership
or collaboration with other charities.
RWF trustees are exploring further opportunities - and the more donations
and bequests the more potential!
1. Our first 10 projects, starting from February 2009, were listed in Newsletter 3 in
December 09. Since January this year, the following have received some RWF funding
xi) Socrates w/end at Burton Manor College*
xii) Drondo - Esperanto (Diskut-rondo) discussion circle residential on big
themes at Wedgwood Memorial College (WMC), Barlaston.
xiii) Disadvantaged music student – support for study at Conservatoire
xiv) Pub, Café and Bar Discussion Circles residential experience-sharing at WMC*
xv) Dillington House, Somerset residential based on discussion circle themes*
xvi) Issues in Politics, WEA weekly course in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
xvii) Democracy Day School, Berwick-upon-Tweed*
xviii) Geology Day School, Berwick-upon-Tweed.
* Funded from the RWF Learning Revolution – Transformation Fund
Future Funding agreed for:
xix) Annual RW w/end in May 2010 - filling the College with 40 participants...
xx) Assisting researcher at the RW Archive at Swansea University
xxi) Thomas Paine W/end at WMC, Barlaston
xxii) Arnold Bennett W/end at WMC, Barlaston
xxiii) W.B. Yeats W/end at WMC, Barlaston
‘Ball-park’ figure for those benefitting directly from RWF grants so far: 330.
Estimate of the number of voluntary activists working to facilitate projects so far, including the RWF trustees approving the funding: 55.
Reports continue to indicate that our relatively modest grants (roughly £300 for Day Schools, £500 for residentials) have made a significant contribution to viability and success.
2. The nearly £10k from the Government’s Learning Revolution – Transformation Fund
(LR – TF) helped consolidate RWF work. Crucially, the Socrates w/end above involved two philosophers who had participated in Melvyn Bragg’s In our Time radio programme on the same theme. 35 attended including good representation from pubs on Merseyside and in North Staffs (and 4 RWF Officers). A month later, in February, 40 joined the second residential above - also funded by LR –TF with participants from the informal network with the WEA, U3A and RWF (and 4 RWF Officers!) engaging in workshops, experience-sharing and training taking the project forward.
3. We have demonstrated that this growing informal network of pub, café and bar discussion
circles (visit www.oddc.org.uk which lists a whole range of these) can link with, and progress to, professionally taught Day and Residential Schools in association with RWF, the WEA, adult residential colleges and other institutions.
4. Our web-site, www.raymondwilliamsfoundation.org.uk averages 40 new visitors each
week, and is kept up-to-date by web-master Bob Foster. It gives detailed information on all
developments mentioned here.
5. Against a background where adult education struggles to survive and anticipated public expenditure cuts will reduce further the range and number of courses especially within social, political and philosophical spheres, we believe that our project has proved to be a practical, cost-effective, way forward.
21 Jan 2010
Socrates weekend, 15-17th Jan, at Burton Manor College, Wirral, attended by 36 adults including 8 from the Blue Mugge pub, Leek; 2 from The Lazy Trout, Meerbrook, North Staffs and at least 12 from Philosophy in Pubs (PiPs) in Liverpool.
The Key-note Lecture on Socrates and Darwin was given by David Sedley, Professor of Ancient Philosophy, Cambridge who engaged with the central arguments from Socrates onwards about Creationism. Darwin’s crucial role and impact on these arguments was stressed. Fellow member of Melvyn Bragg’s In our Time team, Angie Hobbs – now Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy - followed through with two dazzling, inspirational, sessions on big public philosophical contemporary issues.
Discussion groups led by PiPs facilitators and a Sat. evening TV film session ensured that every session continued engagement with Socrates – the method and the arguments.. This successful weekend was organised by Derek Tatton, supported by RWF – TF financially, and tutors were David Bates, Paul Doran but primarily Rob Lewis who provided extensive notes for participants.
The strengths of this residential will be built upon, leading to other similar (WEA, maybe) Days and Residentials.
Concurrently, a weekend course at the Wedgwood Memorial College, Barlaston, recruited recruited 17 Esperantists to discuss, in Esperanto, big themes based on notes from the Mugge and Trout pubs such as Citizenship, Buddhism, Confidence, and Thatcherism.
This was the 5th Drondo (Esperanto for Diskut-rondo, or discussion circle), led this time by Tim Owen, and it was subsidized by RWF – TF to widen participation, which it did.
Rave reviews have been received demonstrating that the pub notes > residential and beyond can work and offer a model for future development.
Raymond Williams Foundation
1. Our first year, operating as the enlarged RWF, ends with 10 projects which we have supported financially:
- Farm2Grow (taster day, launching activities and courses involving socially and educationally disadvantaged)
- Annual WEA Raymond Williams W/end on Key Words at Barlaston
- BRASS (helping asylum seekers and refugees in Bolton)
- Art theory and practice WEA residential at WMC, Barlaston
- Cuba Day in Berwick-upon-Tweed – lecture and discussion sessions
- Esperanto Drondo (discussion circle on big themes) w/end at Barlaston
- NORSACA (Afro-Caribbean Association) Day at Barlaston
- Cambridge Womens’ Resource Centre, for educational courses
- Issues in Politics, WEA course in Stoke-on-Trent – keeping fees low.
- Oldham Refugees educational support.
‘Ball-park’ estimate of number of students/learners benefitting directly from RWF grants for the above: 210.
Estimate of the number of voluntary activists working to facilitate the above, including the RWF trustees approving the projects: 38.
Report back indicates that our relatively modest grants (£hundreds but not £thousands, for each project) have made a significant contribution to success.
We have had warmly appreciative e-mails and letters including a Christmas card from the Cambridge Womens’ Resource Centre.
This is encouraging because it has all been achieved well within our annual budget (spending only from our investment income) so we may be able to do more, and even better, in 2010.
Trustees have approved support for several other projects, in principle.
2. Membership has grown steadily through the year. We have done better than expected in gaining Life Members. Annual membership is renewable in January each year but, of course, we welcome new members throughout the year.
Many known to be sympathetic to RWF and strongly to Raymond’s Long Revolution have not yet joined. We can, maybe, work on that in the coming year but no pressure is needed because we’re doing well with a viable and growing membership.
3. Our web-site continues to expand and improve, kept up-to-date at least monthly by web-master Bob Foster. The links and number of visitors have increased, especially in recent months.
4. The programme leaflet for the 2010 week-end at Barlaston had been produced by late November this year, earlier than in recent times. The programme can be seen on our web-site and all who enrolled for this annual week-end in recent years should have received copy by e-mail or post. If you would like copy/ies please contact me. We are on course again to fill the College.
5. Our successful application for funding from the Government’s Learning Revolution –Transformation Fund (LR –TF) has given a dramatic boost to the Foundation, raising our profile nationally. The detail on this can be found on the RWF web-site. The aim has been ambitious, linking pub circles in North Staffs and Liverpool to other informal groups (café philosophique, sci-bars, U3A philosophy and politics courses) to professionally taught, RWF funded WEA courses, day and residential schools at adult residential colleges.
A striking success to date has been the Socrates residential week-end next January 2010, for which the lecturers and tutors include two of the country’ most distinguished academic philosophers (both discussed Socrates with Melvyn Bragg in the BBC ‘In our Time’ series). The w/end was fully booked just three weeks after the promotion date, including good numbers from the pub circles (20 or so).
The planned experience-sharing and training week-end at Barlaston in February
will bring together a good range of participants from ‘informal learning’ circles and groups. That will help boost the project generally, given the WEA’s recently announced aim ‘to create models of informal adult learning which are defined and controlled by adult learners themselves…’. We are in the vanguard in this sphere and will seek to consolidate the work, as above, in partnership with the WEA.
6. The latest news on the future of the Wedgwood Memorial College is that the review conducted by the City of Stoke-on-Trent will be presented with recommendation – based on plans and costs for total refurbishment, but also including the option of closure – for consultation in March. Carol Smith, the temporary Principal, is taking early retirement from the end of March. Meanwhile, RWF has made positive proposals to Carol offering further financial support for residential and day courses in 2010.
7. Partnerships are crucial for RWF and over the last twelve months direct links and co-operative work has been achieved with over 14 organisations.
8. The successes summarised in this Newsletter offer eloquent testimony that Dudley Pretty’s intentions embodied through his exceptional bequest are being honoured. Further fund-raising to strengthen voluntary networks will be on the agenda in coming months. An RWF legacy form is still being drafted - it is clear that legacies (more modest maybe than Dudley’s) could, for the foreseeable future, be a most helpful way to underpin the Foundation and its work.
With best wishes for the Yuletide season and for 2010,
firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 01538 370067