John Baker

Academic career - economics, sociology and social policy studies. Scholarly writing included family policy. Now retired and working part-time.

Mainly Voluntary Organisation activist. Took a ‘Council of Voluntary Service’ from first worker desk hunting to a £1.5m outfit, 400 member organisations. Member of Social Services and other local government committees, involved in grant applications of maybe £20m, NCVO tutor, etc etc.

Interest in FNF for the usual reason. Non-coping mother given control. Children returned when old enough to decide and stayed until adults.

Initially branch activist. Became trustee responsible for policy and communications. Helped change perception of us from ‘an organisation that must never be given respectability’ (Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour) to being in the top division of voices about family policy. Became Chair when we had 1.6 FTE staff and a budget of £35k. On resigning, 16 staff and £360k. Changes in Statute Law (e.g the award of PR to signatories of the birth certificate, others), many in administration and policy. (Mostly now lost). Half a million acts of help p.a. Did most things initially. Grant applications, speaking at meetings, policy papers, media appearances, evidence to Parliamentary committees….). Personal work was not the key. That was knowing how to tackle problems and developing teams.

Recent work in London branch, eg Parental Alienation and Accusations of Abuse workshops.

Committed to making us more welcoming, transparent and energetic. FNF current work - if seen by looking at the office alone - is impressive, but not compared with what is needed and achievable.

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