The Woodcraft Folk’s 90th anniversary exhibition is currently on display at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, before moving on to the People’s History Museum in Manchester. Woodcraft Folk general secretary Jon Nott looks at what the next 90 years might hold.
For Woodcraft Folk, 2015 was a year of looking backwards and forwards. Our Heritage Lottery funded 90th anniversary project “Our Past, Our Future” provided an opportunity to reflect on nine decades of grassroots co-operative education – looking at how things have changed and, importantly, at the things that have stayed constant.
Reflecting on the values that Woodcraft Folk was founded with in 1925, we have been reminded how radical it was in the early 20th century to create an organisation run by and with young people not just run for young people by adults. Our founding principles of living in harmony with nature and living in harmony with other people – put into practice alongside internationalism, co-operation and being open to boys and girls of all religions and none – are still the basis of our work today and provide a strong foundation for the next 90 years.
Running in parallel with our 90th anniversary celebrations was our New Groups Project, funded by the Cabinet Office through Youth United. This enabled us to grow by over 10% during the year, opening over 40 new groups and providing opportunities for over 800 children and young people in communities across the UK.
These are challenging times for voluntary organisations, but the co-operative values of self-help and mutual aid mean we are able to face challenges together, as a UK-wide movement, building sustainable local districts run by thousands of volunteers and supported by a small central staff team. In addition to these two major grants, Woodcraft Folk has seen a significant increase in support from parents of children taking part in our groups, from people who were in Woodcraft Folk when they were younger, from trade unions and from the co-operative movement.
We are grateful to all those who support Woodcraft Folk, whether financially or as volunteers and as we head for our one hundredth anniversary, we are confident that we can continue to grow, strengthening our links with communities up and down the country and helping to raise new generations of co-operators.
We are already starting to plan our Centenary Camp in 2025, when we will invite our sister organisations from around the world and friends from the co-operative movement in the UK to join us in living our values in a co-operative community built by and with children and young people, living together in harmony with nature and spanning the world with friendship.
If you would like to find out more about Woodcraft Folk please visit www.woodcraft.org.uk