“Useful for anyone in the welfare services and indispensable for the uninitiated.” Women of Europe magazine about Life Goes On

1995 - 2013
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BOOKS BY RUTH I. JOHNS STILL IN PRINT and now available from Plowright Press 

Life Goes On was published under the Unknown Publisher imprint after two major publishers wanted Ruth I. Johns to amend her text to a high-selling blueprint for running a self-help organisation. Believing that such blueprints are damaging to community self-sustainability, she refused. In defiance, in 1982 she published under the imprint of the Unknown Publisher! Her book received twenty-five excellent reviews.

Life Goes On [1982] outlines the philosophy and practice of the first ten years of Family First Trust, a pioneer Nottingham housing association and community organisation which the author started in 1965. It still flourishes. Family First set out to provide independent housing for disadvantaged groups. For example, it housed lone unsupported parents for whom adoption or placing children in care were then often the only ‘solution’. From the start, Family First worked in appropriate local ways, including the provision of a day nursery, furniture service and day workshop ‘in the community’ for patients of Mapperley Hospital. It pioneered work which sparked off projects run by groups in other parts of the UK and abroad, including Australia and Trinidad.
192 pp. Laminated
cover. PB. ISBN-10:  090789500X   ISBN-13: 978-0907895008.   £10.00

Some Press comments: “This is an important book. It helps to restore the importance of the individual, which is too often ignored in social thinking, encourage self-help, and above all correct the fashionable but unproven assumption that human destiny is wholly the result of impersonal social and economic factors beyond the control of the individual.” Quarterly Journal of Community Education. “This book gives an insight into the current problems of violence and looks at the meaning of family.” The Friend. “The book needs to be read through and not just dipped into.” Nursing Times. “Useful for anyone in the welfare service and indispensable for the uninitiated.” Women of Europe. It is not easy to describe in a few sentences, but Ruth Johns is preoccupied by the need to recognise and meet human needs interdependently and without undue reliance on the ‘professional’ helped who may be stifling self-help.” National Council for Voluntary Organisations Information Service. “Her experiences have helped form the ideas of communities helping themselves which have been tagged ‘revolutionary’ by the Home Office.” Coventry Telegraph. “No book could ever claim to be a blueprint for the alternative to the nuclear family but Life Goes On does help to open up this whole wide area of debate in timely and realistic fashion.” Methodist Recorder. “It is iconoclastic. It is worth reading by anyone in the field of guidance who is tempted to think of themselves as providing a service.” Manpower Services Commission.

  • In the late 1960s, The Home Office described Family First as a ‘revolutionary idea.’ Nearly 40 years on, it is still fulfilling its mission based on its founding ideas and vision but always adapting to changing situations.

  • Although designed in what now looks to be a dense text, Life Goes On is still a favourite of people who first read it some twenty years ago. It is still gaining new readers. Sometimes they use it for social housing or community self-help research.


The Job Makers [1984] is a case study of a Nottingham working community of small firms. Twenty-six of the thirty-seven firms studied, during a period of four and a half years, were new ones. The study records what can be done through private small-scale investment, but seldom is. In his foreword, Professor Jack Willock says: “This book offers a wealth of case information to lead into debate about the relationship between wealth creation - in terms of people being able to provide not only their own employment but to give or create work for others - and short term maximisation of direct profits.”
146 pp. Laminated
cover. PB. ISBN-10:  0907895026   ISBN-13: 978-0907895022.   £8.00

Some Press comments. “If you want a warts’n’all view of  the problems of funding and running a workspace management scheme, you won’t find a more practical source than The Job Makers.” Property Confidential. “The facts presented merit careful consideration by finance houses and central and local government.” Nottingham Evening Post. “This book can be recommended for all who are interested in the current debate on the future of work.” The Friend. “Reflections on the difficulties and the rewards of starting small.” Working Woman. “In a study of the experiences and lessons learned from the first four years of Sharespace – a non-subsidised community of small firms – Ruth Johns has produced a book that will serve both as a guide to others and also raises questions about the commercial and social viability of such enterprises. Many of the 37 firms under review were started by young people. By 1984, they were employing a total of 90 people as well as providing for a number of outworkers, other small firms and contractors . . . Local knowledge and commitment of the founders were seen as playing a vital part in this success, and the books finds no evidence to suggest that a national consortium financing local start-up firms in a similar way would have a similar degree of success.” Employment Gazette.


Company Community Involvement in the UK [1991].
87 pp. Ring-bi
nding. ISBN-10:  0951696009   ISBN-13: 978-0951696002.  £15 companies and statutory bodies.  £5 community organisations and individuals

Some Press comments. “A thought provoking and distinctly different look at the role of business in the wider community.” Employment Gazette. “This study shows there can be no ‘quick fix’ and argues that too much UK company ‘socially responsible’ activity is taken up with imposing central government ideas”. Accountancy Age. “The author sees it as a source for concern that companies have been seduced by government who ‘saw the potential for a substantial and free resource and companies followed the herd, abdicating their own tentative steps toward understanding the community. Business is now encouraged, by Government, to be involved (as donor of ideas as well as material help) in education, the NHS, arts and sports sponsorship, voluntary organisations, employment initiatives, inner-city regeneration’ . .  .” National Council for Voluntary Organisations Newsletter to Corporate Affiliates. “The author makes some useful suggestions of practices for involving the community as an equal partner in discourses between the sectors.” Resurgence.


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