UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


IIPP hosts community lecture in Peckham, London

27 April 2023

Around 100 people attended the event on work and the welfare state, led by Dr Hilary Cottam and Nai Kalema.

Nai Kalema and Hilary Cottam teaching

UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) hosted its second successful community public lecture, led by IIPP Honorary Professor Dr Hilary Cottam, entitled Radical Help: Rethinking the Welfare State, and Work, which was followed by a methods workshop.  

For the second year running, the event was hosted by Peckham Levels, a community hub in Peckham, London - one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse areas. 100 people attended on 24 March 2023, with public servants, IIPP MPA students, and Peckham community members exploring what matters when it comes to designing new models of welfare state and work.  

The event opened with a public lecture by author and social activist Dr Cottam on why it is vital to rethink our welfare systems, in the face of a changing world (for example the need for care systems, family support, new approaches to good work) , inspiring participants to think deeply about the relevance, design and future of welfare systems and sharing practical experience in the use of design methods to reimagine what a modern welfare system could look like for our communities.  

IIPP PhD candidate Nai Lee Kalema brought her expertise in social justice and global public innovation through her presentation. She explored the mainstream arguments which utilise racialised, sexist, and anti-immigration narratives to promote anti-welfare politics, largely with bipartisan support, and outlined how such arguments are becoming common in emergent digital welfare states.  

Following the lecture, Dr Cottam and Ms Kalema facilitated a participative discussion and a hands-on workshop. Taking the challenge of designing good work, participants were asked to first, individually, consider their own journey, identifying key events that they’ve experienced. This was an exercise for the participants to reflect on their journey and how it connects with their current ways of working. Following in a dynamic group exercise, participants were tasked to design, as a group, a 21st-century welfare institution that could enable an imagined good working life. This hands-on workshop provided a space to experiment with of the methods that inform Hilary’s work and social activism.  

Participants sitting around tables at the workshop at Peckham Levels

"To enable new systems, we need to work in new ways: ideas and practice cannot be separated. It was wonderful to combine some new ideas with the rich experience and ideas participants brought to the day – there was so much talent in the room," says Dr Cottam.
IIPP Deputy Director Rainer Kattel said: "Hilary Cottam’s work is pathbreaking in trying to figure out how to radically think our welfare systems. Her teach-outs are one of the highlights for our students — they come away inspired and energised. I am already looking forward to next year's workshop."

This teach-out was supported Peckham Levels and by members of IIPP faculty and the IIPP Policy Studio.