We are deeply saddened to announce the recent untimely passing of Helen Jones OBE, the first Chair of the Social Pedagogy Professional Association (SPPA). Helen was relentless in her search for better education, care and support of our country’s children in and on the edges of care and was a major force behind the development of U.K. social pedagogy. Without Helen social pedagogy here in the UK & Ireland could well have been a ‘passing fad’.
As a senior civil servant with the Department for Health (and its later iterations), she urged the government to fund TCRU research into social pedagogy in the 1990s. From agitating behind the scenes, securing funding and speaking out in public Helen grew a community of academics, social care leaders, educators and practitioners, planting social pedagogy seeds across our five nations and beyond, seeds that have grown into more thoughtful, critically-informed and compassionate services. She used her anger at injustices meted upon people who have a right to better support, protection and care to extraordinary effect, challenging policymakers, writing better policies and collaborating with a wide ranging set of leaders in many fields. In addition, Helen secured funding for a considerable number of other projects at TCRU and in child welfare, and latterly she was instrumental in setting standards for foster care across eastern European countries. These are but a few of her very many achievements – her influence on us as individuals and collectively cannot be understated.
Perhaps Helen’s most precious legacy in terms of social pedagogy is SPPA. She, along with Prof Pat Petrie, Prof Claire Cameron and others, established the charity which was no mean feat! Helen was also a great supporter of the Social Pedagogy Development Network from our first event in 2008, keen to listen to how UK & Irish social pedagogy was developing and engaging in great conversations, asking searching questions, and making unique contributions to the field. Helen encouraged anyone with even a vague interest in social pedagogy to explore further, her enthusiasm was infectious and her encouragement always joyful.
Helen’s death is a great loss to both social work and social pedagogy in the UK and so we will ensure her legacy thrives, especially in these challenging times.
Her funeral will take place Friday 27 January (12 noon) at Clandonwood – Natural Burial Ground. There will be a live webcast at https://youtu.be/0U2GKxUM6mg
Anyone who wishes to make a donation in Helen’s memory can do so via the following Just Giving pages for Médecins Sans Frontières and the Trussell Trust:
Rest in peace Helen
Robyn Kemp (SPPA Chair), Claire Cameron (SPPA Patron) & Gabriel Eichsteller (SPDN co-ordinator)