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Friday, 4 August 2017

Phil Evens and The Barton Project

Teresa Smith, Kate Coxon and George Smith have written a comprehensive report on The Barton Project which was set up by my father, Phil Evens, in 1974. The Barton Neighbourhood Community Project: Barton, Oxford City and Oxfordshire is published by Oxford Social Research Ltd and the introduction to the report outlines its scope:

'The Barton Neighbourhood Community Project was first established on the Barton estate, Oxford in 1974. The initiative for the project came from a lecturer, Phil Evens, in the University of Oxford’s Department of Social and Administrative Studies (known as ‘Barnett House’) which had a long history of local research and local involvement, and was in the late 1960s and early 1970s closely involved in major national government programmes targeted at disadvantaged areas in the UK. Evens persuaded his Department that they should also support a local initiative and selected the Barton estate as an area that had been neglected (A ‘Forgotten Community’ was the title of his 1976 book). Barton is a small social housing estate on the eastern edge of Oxford city, outside the main city ring road, that cut it off from the rest of the city.

It can be argued that in one form or other the Barton Project has existed ever since, though the University passed on the direct link in the 1990s to Ruskin College when the project’s community work student training unit was transferred; the project’s welfare rights work, Oxfordshire Welfare Rights, is now funded and managed by a local community work agency.

While this report focuses on the community work on Barton now and the current social and economic conditions on the Barton estate, the study also covers some of the changes and developments that have occurred both in the area and in the way community work has operated in disadvantaged areas like the Barton estate.

In the opening section we cover some of the wider background to the development of neighbourhood community work in the UK and analyse the social and economic conditions in the Barton area in comparison to Oxford, Oxfordshire and England as a whole. The second section focuses on the Barton Neighbourhood Project in terms of its development over time and its current programme of work. Further case studies of particular schemes are also covered. Finally we ask whether the Barton Estate is any longer a ‘forgotten community’, and draw out lessons and conclusions that may be relevant to other areas in the UK and elsewhere.'

Dad's experiences and other contributions to the development of community work were published in Community Work: Theory and practice (1974) and The Barton Project (1976). Both books applied his Christian faith to his work, and called for the active involvement of Christians in community work and other public services. My other posts about Dad and his work can be found by clicking here.

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