The BBC is airing two programmes about Seebohm Rowntree on October 22 and 29.

The programmes, A Life Without Work, are based on Rowntree’s 1910 study of unemployment in York, a subject especially pertinent given the current economic situation.

Long-time residents of York will probably already be familiar with the philanthropic work of the Rowntrees, but knowledge of their legacy is not as widespread as it should be outside this city.

Seebohm Rowntree’s study of unemployment is one of the most well-known achievements of the Rowntree family and features on the national curriculum, so many thousands of teenagers will know his name.

As a GCSE student in Oxfordshire five years ago, I briefly studied Rowntree’s studies and their contribution to the drive for Liberal reforms at the beginning of the 20th century.

However, the curriculum does not cover his work in great detail and no link is made with the Rowntrees as a manufacturer of sweets and chocolate.

Hopefully A Life Without Work will bring about greater nationwide awareness of the Rowntrees’ achievements, and lead to further programmes covering other aspects of their work.

Katherine Hughes, Student volunteer, Rowntree Society.