Nottingham's Family First

“It takes courage and determination to set up any organisation. It takes even more courage and determination to set one up that goes against the status quo. Ruth I Johns had both in abundance,” said Janet Butler, Chair of Family First (2005).

Founded in 1965, Family First Trust, Nottingham, helped families and individuals at a time of crisis in their lives through self-help opportunities to prevent long-term intractable problems. It pioneered practical housing/community projects for ‘categories’ of people often regarded as problematic. Family First attracted talented, reliable volunteers: and a staff capable of thinking ‘outside the box’.

“Your project is a revolutionary idea,” stated the Home Office. Family First filled “a gaping hole in services” said social workers.

Initially, Family First obtained funds from charitable trusts, gifts and fundraising to purchase two adjoining houses on a large site at The Croft, Alexandra Park, Nottingham, where later a family centre with a day nursery and fourteen maisonettes were built.

Ruth looks back with incredulity how successful local initiatives, including Family First, inherently so common sense; able to adapt to specific needs; efficient: and participative have often been unpicked through expensive politically driven bureaucracy, read more.

The Gulbenkian Foundation asked Ruth, as resident voluntary family living at The Croft and Family First’s director for over ten years, to write the story of Family First’s initial decade, published as Life Goes On by Ruth I Johns [ISBN 9780907895008].

Family First’s board asked Ruth to research and write the history of Family First at forty: Nottingham’s Family First 1965-2005 by Ruth I Johns [ISBN 9780955094804].

Both books available direct from or bookshops.

View Archive Data