Stacey, Nick (Part 3 of 5). Pioneers in Charity and Social Welfare

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  • Subjects

    Athletics: Track

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Faversham

  • Interviewees

    Stacey, Nicholas, 1927- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Brodie, Louise (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 3: Mervyn Stockwood was a charismatic figure who tried to start a revival of the church while at Cambridge. It was an honour for NS to be chosen by him to go to Woolwich. They were given a nice clergy house there [4:15] NS's first job was to build up a talented team. Paul Bibby, Bob Hughes, Brian Cooper, Richard Garrard, and Jeffrey Rowthorn joined him. Details. [9:29] Then attention turned to the church building. Leaving 350 seats in the centre, they sealed off the galleries, using them for a coffee bar and meeting room, and found offices for the local voluntary social services. Raising money was hard and NS had to use his own capital to guarantee building work. Then they did lots of house visiting, and made a big celebration with baptisms. Story of the yellow Rolls-royce. They had coffee evenings and other events. The congregation increased only a little. The book, Honest to God by John Robinson got a lot of publicity and a journalist came to tackle the parish council about this. [19:09] They opened up the crypt with a good disco and started bingo in the church school hall, both very popular. NS would go along to this at the end of the evening to say hello. NS was writing articles for the Daily Herald and the London Evening News. 1200 words of comment had to be written in two hours and would earn enough to pay a curate's salary for a month. [26:58] They knew they were touching lives in the parish, maybe 1500, but the congregation had only gone up to about 100, which they considered miniscule, in spite of all the team's hard work. They were approached by the Observer for an in depth article, and assigned a photographer for a week. NS wrote the article, titled "A Mission's Failure" and it touched a nerve in the church establishment. Hundreds of people, and clergy, wrote in, and the two archbishops commented unfavourably. MS, his bishop, was shattered and never once spoke to him, until forced to do so at a television discussion a year later. [36:30] In the meantime the local Presbyterian church decided to close their church and come to St Mary's, to share expenses and work together. The Archbishop of Canterbury said they could not do it, owing to a sixteenth century law, but agreed to try to get the law changed. They came anyway on this promise, which took five years to effect. Later a Methodist and a Roman Catholic priest joined them. [41:44] They set up the Quadrant Housing Association to ease the chronic housing shortage, by buying up old terrace houses and dividing and refurbishing them, first with local builders and then with Wates. NS ran this personally and found it very exciting [46:09] They had a branch of the Samaritans housed in the church and ran a family planning clinic in which NS's wife Anne helped. Story. The four questions which NS was usually asked were - Where can I get an abortion? Can you recommend a money lender who is not a crook? Can you find me somewhere to live? Can you bless my football coupons for a win? [50:05] NS was elected by the 60 or 70 clergy in the area to be Dean of Greenwich, which really pleased him. As they had no financial help from the diocese, it was agreed that the clergy at St Mary's should all take secular jobs, mostly teaching. He firmly believes that these strong centres are the way forward and that the church today is in a tragic condition because it has not adopted this system. [55:41] NS's children went to nursery school in Woolwich. Caroline grew up to work for the Independent and now works as a freelance journalist. David was a film producer and now runs Anne's family estate in Shropshire. Mary was a partner in Thompsons the solicitors, and is now running the employment tribunal board. As children they went to school in Blackheath. [1:05:27] NS decided that he could do no more in Woolwich after 8 years, but was not offered another job in the church. By chance, or hand of God, he saw an advertisement for a job as deputy director of Oxfam andd applied. Meanwhile he was committed to go on a mission to speak to prisoners in Canada. He thought he could help them, he is humbler now, but it was an amazing experience. They were really tough places and he heard tragic stories, but feels he got through to them. After this he went for a holiday to stay with his godfather in Montego Bay, a complete contrast [1:16:10] Oxfam had been going for 25 years when NS joined them and it needed a new look. NS remembers the civil war in Biafra. He personally flew in with tins of food and distributed it through the Roman Catholic church. The media saw farmers with Oxfam sacks going to market and talked of corruption, but it was merely the sacks being reused. They were exciting years. NS was asked to head the new Disasters Emergency Fund involving Oxfam, Save the Children Fund and War on Want. Each charity had different helpers and ethos. [1:25:00] NS was promoting the Oxfam shops and educating people, he is a good communicator, but overall saw that the terms of trade between governments was more important than charity work. Ghana doubled its production of coffee and then the world price halved and NS wanted the public to understand this sort of problem. The Oxfam council were paternalistic, with undoubted integrity. NS suspected a groundswell of opinion against him and he was airbrushed out of their history when he left. In the UK he trailed round the country, encouraged the Third World First group in universities, organised events like the Walk to Wembley. [1:34:39] He left Oxfam in 1970 and nobody offered him a job. He did some lecturing and television work and then wrote his autobiography Who Cares? They were living in Begbroke [1:37:34] The Seebohm report pinpointed the fact that the three most vulnerable groups in society, the children, the elderly and the mentally ill, had connected problems. This was a time when social service departments were expanding. NS feels that the holy spirit moved him towards the job directing social services for the borough of Ealing. The chief executive there had had his first choice for this post turned down by Keith Joseph [KJ] . NS knew KJ through the Bovis charitable foundation and was confirmed in the post. [1:42:06] NS left Oxfam as he felt it was a fringe organisation. His faith remained strong. He believes that Jesus Christ loves us, that man has a free choice but has messed up God's world; that life is unfair and that we should try to do something about it and help people here, and that there is something beyond. Church dogma does not matter, he is in despair about the church establishment at the moment. [1:48:45] Ealing had a Labour Council. Stories of his first encounters. NS brought in Andrew Henderson, who was a social worker and knew what to do, to help him. This was 1971 (NS left Ealing in 1974). NS made sure that the local press knew all the things that they were doing. Ealing had a large Asian community in Southall, the white BBC group in Ealing itself and the West Indians in Acton. NS brought in bright people and won battles. They made the new ideas work and dealt with the problems in a connected way. [1:58:48] NS came in fresh and provided leadership. He got rid of dead wood by offering early retirement packages and moving people around. The Asians controlled their family problems well in the main, the west Indians were less good with children. In 1974 NS got Kent, the biggest social service department in the country, and in his time it changed from being the worst to the best. [2:08:52] Social services are a key organisation and provide value for money. NS was well paid, earning as much as a deputy permanent secretary but few people of calibre go into local government. [2:13:30] NS's first task in Kent was to raise morale and he toured every one of the district offices and all voluntary bodies who were their partners. He visited old people's homes (and always kissed the cook!) Bullshit is part of leadership. Lots of people had moved out from Woolwich to the Medway towns in Kent. Publicity was given to community care. [2:18:43] When NS arrived, there were 2500 children in care which was creating a self fulfilling problem. They wanted to support the parents to keep the children at home. At this time foster parents might be used for younger children, but post puberty they went into institutions. NS supported Nancy Hazell in setting up a system of professional foster parents. They raised money with Hugh de Quetteville from the Sainsbury Trust, doubled by the Kent social services, and started recruiting and training. The project was monitored by Goldsmiths College and was proved to be successful. [2:28:00] Approved schools were run like mini public schools, difficult children lumped together, a concept which was flawed, very expensive, and a springboard to Borstal. Closing them released money, a trend which was expanded throughout the country and is now national policy. It was an exciting breakthrough. NS decided they should hold a ball for social workers [2:36:29] NS's friend, Christopher Gibbs the art dealer, produced Marianne Faithfull to judge the tramps costumes they were to wear. Stories of a chaotic evening, which however succeeded in raising morale. Social work is critically important.

  • Description

    Interview with social activist Rev. Nicolas Stacey; in this interview Nick discusses competing in the 1952 Olympic Games

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