Our Mission
The Public Realm: Reimagined. Redelivered.

We believe there needs to be a new settlement between individuals, communities and government - new ways for people to get involved in determining their lives in a meaningful way, new approaches that mean some people do not get stuck at the bottom of the heap for generations and new bonds that mean people can flourish and bring their dreams alive. 

We also think that what matters is not just ideas, but real change on the ground, in our communities. 

On an everyday level this means public service reform - this is where the opportunities lie, to build something different. 

Participle’s vision is radical: public services which offer all citizens a fair chance to realise their potential. For citizens to have this chance, it is not enough for society to present them merely with opportunities. There must be a shared commitment to developing citizens’ capabilities, so that all can acquire the skills necessary to seize and shape opportunities.

At Participle, we do two things: Firstly, we design large-scale social innovation projects, and then bring those solutions to life as exemplars of what a future welfare state could look like. Secondly, we campaign on the importance of taking a relational approach to services, sharing ideas and gathering evidence about the people making Relational Welfare happen.

Our Inheritance

In 1942 William Beveridge, produced a report that became the cornerstone of the UK’s modern welfare state, its legacy still underpins the architecture of our public services, how they are funded, and how they are governed.

The report was guided by 3 principles; a determination to be radical; an attack on the five giants of ‘want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness’; and a commitment to co-operation between the state and the individual. 

These commitments have transformed life in the UK.  However, it is not surprising that structures designed in another era, are not best equipped to tackle a set of new long term, growing social problems such as chronic disease, entrenched unemployment, social isolation, and climate change, nor can they tackle some of the entrenched inequalities that appear resistant to the original approach. 

Changes in society, demographics, lifestyle and availability of resources, have left us with services that are out of step with modern Britain.  We need to stop patching and mending institutions and services designed for another era, the time has come to create something new.  A radical new vision for our public services is required. 
We call our vision Beveridge 4.0.

The Future

Beveridge 4.0 is not about re-defining the giants (illness, ignorance, disease and so on).  It’s about a new lens to look at the issues.  If we were to distil our approach to developing new types of public services down to two principles we would say firstly it is about motivating deep participation, and secondly about encouraging social connections and contributions.

Participation and contribution depend on a bigger narrative, one that all of us can relate to: a story about dreams, capabilities and aspirations, not problems and needs; a story that starts with our own lives and encompasses others.

Our vision knits together the economic, social and emotional dimensions of life. Of course any vision is meaningless without the ability of all of us to participate in it.  The freedom to live a better life will be reflected in a person’s capabilities and this is the starting point of the five shifts we propose:

  • Moving from a system focused on needs to one more concerned with capabilities;
  • Moving from services that are targeted to ones that are open to all;
  • Moving away from a financially focused system to one focused on resources;
  • Avoiding centralised institutions in favour of more effective distributed networks;
  • Relaxing the absolute focus on the individual including more of a focus on social networks;

Each of these takes as a starting point a major principle in Beveridge’s original report and re-evaluates it for the specific demands of our time.  You can click here to download our Mission Statement, which discusses these shifts in more detail and illustrates what they mean in practice.

Of course a new settlement for our times, would not be drawn up and published by a gentleman in Whitehall, or by our small team in our South London studio.  It would need to be rooted in a wider experience and participation.  Our ideas have developed through our collaborative work across the country. We don’t have all the answers at Participle, but we are eager to discuss our thinking, drawing on our project work and to learn with you and from you.  We hope you will read our mission document, Beveridge 4.0 and share your experiences or feedback with us on our Relational Welfare blog or via @weareparticiple on Twitter.

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