I have been taken to task, quite rightly, by someone who got to know Nancy in the late 60s, and who she worked with on projects for young offenders, and who points out that this part of Nancy’s life is skimped in the book. This is partly because the main part of the book ends in 1947, and partly because I didn’t have the information. She never had an official position, though she was loosely connected with NACRO (the National Council for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders) The project that really caught her imagination was the concept of New Careers – which comes around every fifteen years or so, in some guise, to be rediscovered by a new generation of workers. At its heart lies the sensible idea that the people best equipped to deal with young offenders etc – or parents who are failing to cope, or troubled families, or whoever – are those who have walked that road themselves, and come through. (It’s much more complicated than that really, and worth exploring) Anyway, here is what one person who worked with her then has written:
“Nancy instigated a series of prison visits, many of which we did together, to talk to prisoners hoping to inspire them to work with other ex offenders when they left prison, in their turn to inspire young people not to offend, going into schools and youth clubs, and to work with them if they did offend. Nancy was wonderful – completely unphased by roomfuls of frustrated, depressed, edgy young men into which we were flung. She was brilliant at engaging them, inspirational and often very funny. They loved her. And she and I had a lot of fun.
“Nancy was inspirational too in helping me set up and run the Hammersmith Teenage Project – always there to give advice and encouragement.
“Her writings and talks on New Careers, and on many other aspects of the criminal justice system were invaluable to many of us working in that world. Her influence has never been adequately acknowledged .”