Bob Holman, group employee – obituary

bob-holman,-group-employee –-obituary

Bob Holman, who has died aged 79 from motor neurone illness, left a professorship at Tub College in 1976 to change into a group employee on town’s impoverished Southdown property; what gave him prominence was not solely his work but additionally the way in which during which he lived the Christian values that he had concluded had been incompatible with the snug life he had loved as an educational.

“You change into a Christian,” he mentioned, “and then you definately start to work out what it means.” Along with his spouse Annette and their two kids, he moved from the middle-class space the place they lived to a home subsequent to the property. It grew to become an workplace and an open home the place native kids and others may convey their issues. What grew to become the Southdown Challenge started by Holman strolling the streets and popping into native outlets to speak to residents.

However he was not content material simply to work in Southdown. In letters to newspapers, articles, convention appearances and books (even a pseudonymously revealed novel)  he highlighted the poverty he discovered and the measures he proposed to resolve it.

In 1987 the household moved to Holman’s spouse’s native Glasgow, to dwell on the huge Easterhouse property, the place he based Household Motion in Rotherfield and Easterhouse (FARE). The organisation, run by single dad and mom, unemployed individuals and others, started within the Holmans’ entrance room and represented, to Holman, a channel for the person and collective spirit and skills of abnormal individuals.

It enabled neighbours to work with each other; kids to be saved out of the care and felony justice techniques; and folks to be given alternatives, aspiration and “some enjoyable, a spark of hope, for you want a spark of hope to outlive in a spot like this”.

Easterhouse property, Glasgow Credit score: Alamy

He strove to make the enterprise self-financing, following St Paul’s instance: “St Paul was a tent-maker, and all the time prided himself on not having to ask the Church for cash. I’m going to function on the tent-maker precept.”

 There have been golf equipment, sport and artwork actions, household assist teams, holidays, and grownup mentors for youngsters and younger individuals. Holman’s function was as “a resourceful pal”: “I’m not a social employee: I can’t have your kids taken into care. I’m not an abnormal pal: a pal can reject you. And I’ve obtained sure expertise.” He would assist to fill in profit varieties, converse on individuals’s behalf at tribunals, discover cash for a brand new washer, or accompany a teen to courtroom.

Many social employees, dissatisfied with the managerialism that contaminated their career, noticed Holman as a reminder of social work as a vocation – and his admirers ranged extra broadly. In 1994 a profile by Maureen Cleave in The Telegraph Journal below the heading “The Good Man of Glasgow” introduced £30,000 in donations to FARE from Telegraph readers.

The previous Conservative chief Iain Duncan Smith has recalled that it was a go to to Easterhouse and to Holman’s venture in 2002 that made him a “modified man” on account of all of the deprivation he noticed.

Bob Holman, he noticed in an article in The Sunday Telegraph in 2007, “summed it up when he mentioned that the internal metropolis wasn’t a spot; it was a mind-set – the mentality of entrapment, the place aspiration and hope are for different individuals, dwelling in one other place.”

Holman struck up what a lot of his buddies thought of an unlikely friendship with the Tory politician, though Duncan Smith’s function within the Coalition and Tory governments led Holman to change into disenchanted.

Robert Holman was born on November 8 1936 in Ilford, Essex, to Robert Bones (he later took a grandmother’s maiden identify), a removing man, and Lily (née Simms). Robert “grew into Christianity”, he recalled later, becoming a member of a boys’ Christian motion known as the Covenanters “largely as a result of I needed to play of their soccer group”.

Newly constructed non-public houses and old-style tenement blocks, Easterhouse, Glasgow, circa 2000 Credit score:   Christine Boyd 

His education was interrupted by evacuation to Suffolk (he revealed a historical past of evacuation in 1995). After grammar faculty and Nationwide Service within the RAF he learn Historical past and Economics at College School, London, after which took a Certificates in Social Administration on the London College of Economics.

From 1961 to 1966 Holman labored as a baby care officer in Hertfordshire, whereas additionally tutoring in youngster care. Lectureships in social work and social administration at Birmingham and Glasgow universities had been adopted by his appointment as a professor at Tub.

For Holman, tackling poverty and decreasing inequality had been two sides of the identical coin. He attacked not solely the wealthy enterprise chiefs and the Royal household, however the excessive salaries of the heads of the “welfare trade” – administrators of charities and social providers.

Two of his influences had been George Lansbury and Keir Hardie, and in his biographies, Good Previous George (1990) and Keir Hardie (2010), Holman confirmed how the 2 males mixed Christian and socialist values. Woodbine Willy, his lifetime of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, clergyman, pacifist and poet, appeared in 2012. However he refused to jot down an autobiography, explaining that “if I’ve achieved something, I hope it’s seen in different individuals, not me.”

He grew to become a robust advocate of Scottish independence, believing that it will cease the imposition of insurance policies dangerous to the poor in his adopted nation.

Bob Holman was tall and rangy, humble, unfailingly cheerful and drily humorous. He continued to jot down, converse at conferences, tackle voluntary neighbourhood work, and act as visiting professor at each the schools of Glasgow and Cardiff till his sickness took maintain.

He’s survived by his spouse Annette, a social employee, and by their son and daughter.

Bob Holman, born November 8 1936, died June 16 2016


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