21 October 2015

Octavia residents celebrate at A Life more Noble book launch

Octavia    Book Launch 62OCT 201015 154

Celebrities, social housing residents, service users and supporters helped to launch a new book this month, which pulls together reflections on the relevance of our founder’s ambitions.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the year that Octavia Hill acquired her first property to rent at affordable rates to the London poor, the views and experiences of 150 contributors have been gathered together in a new book A Life More Noble, which was launched on 20 October at an event in central London.

The book brings together pieces from well-known names including Deborah Meaden, Alan Johnson MP, Tamsin Greig and Sandi Toksvig as well as the experiences of current Octavia residents and service users to reflect on the contemporary relevance of Octavia Hill’s ambition – to “make individual life noble, homes happy and family life good”.

A life more noble

Octavia Hill is not only regarded as a social housing pioneer, but her approach of visiting tenants in their homes means she is also widely considered the 'grandmother' of social work. She rejected charity in favour of helping people help themselves. A number of the book's contributors reflect on the nobility in social work, from Octavia's own care home managers to former hostage negotiator for the Metropolitan Police, Richard Mullender, who discusses the importance of listening to establishing good relationships.

The launch event was attended by many of the contributors including Ian Hislop, Tamzin Greig and Grayson Perry, who joined Octavia residents and supporters to celebrate the achievements and legacy of our favourite Victorian philanthropist. In a live panel at the event, chaired by Isabel Hardman, assistant editor of The Spectator, panellist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown commented:

There will always be a need for social housing. It is incredibly important that we remember the legacy of complicated women of history like Octavia Hill”

She went on to comment on the current political agenda on housing to say: “I think it’s a very sad thing to see the changes happening now.”

A life more nobleThe panel also included Big Issue Founder John Bird, journalist Sir Simon Jenkins and Octavia Board member, Debbie Sorkin who discussed the enduring importance of the work of Octavia Hill – in the areas of social care, the right to open spaces and her holistic approach to housing and housing management.

Octavia Hill was about social mobility as much as anything – an ethos that Octavia Housing, the Octavia Foundation and other philanthropic housing associations continue today

(Debbie Sorkin)

Grahame Hindes, Chief Executive of Octavia said:

The enthusiasm and support of such a wide variety of people who contributed to this book is in itself, is a strong indicator that the work of Octavia Hill and the work that has continued from her legacy is as vital now as ever. It’s great to see so many residents and high profile guests together to celebrate what we think is a very valid and current ambition.”


A life more nobleA Life More Noble is available to buy online at Amazon.co.uk and all profits made will be donated to help fund a creative club for young people in North Kensington, which will offer a safe place for local young people with adult role models and activities aimed at developing their potential.

To find out more about A Life More Noble, visit http://lifemorenoble.co.uk/

A special thanks also goes to the Richard Reid Foundation, who kindly sponsored the launch event.