Mutual aid and self-help:Coping strategies for excluded communities

Danny Burns and Marilyn Taylor

The concepts of mutual aid and self help are being promoted as a means of addressing problems of poverty and social exclusion.

A range of informal structures, including credit unions, economic exchange systems and shared childcare, offer solutions to the problems of budget constraints, as well as confronting the breakdown in social cohesion and providing a cushion against the impact of poverty. This report explores the potential and limits of self help and mutual aid and looks at how these informal networks contribute to the mainstream. The authors make recommendations for policies to safeguard and enhance their role.

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