The Greater Manchester Democracy Hub: Helping people connect

Generic image of group of people holding up papers to cast votes.

We recently helped co-host a Greater Manchester Democracy Hub event with The Politics Project. These hubs were started by The Politics Project in London to break down silos and bring together people who are trying to improve democracy from a range of angles. We had a really interesting mix of people take part. You can hear more about what some of these people are working on through the short interviews below that we recorded during the event. Before going any further we’d also like to say a big thank you to The Federation for the use of their fantastic events space. There have now been a number of hubs run between both London and Manchester and so we’re taking the chance to review how well these are working for people. Details of how to share your views on this are below.

The Presentations

We started off the evening with a handful of presentations about projects happening in the local area. Helen Pidd gave a compelling presentation on her Walkride GM campaign which was started after a spate of muggings of cyclists along the Fallowfield Loop late last year. With a new transport infrastructure budget in the pipeline, her campaign is all the more important for making sure the voices of pedestrians and cyclists are heard alike.

We also had pitches by Katie Finney from Jam and Justice who is working with Demsoc currently on the Space in Common project which is concerned with planning in Greater Manchester. Moreover, Nicola Waterworth from Happen Together discussed their exciting projects for International Women’s Day. And we also heard from Hattie who discussed The Politics Project’s collaboration with the People’s History Museum for Peterloo commemorations in 2019.

Discussions on Collaboration

Group of participants around table discuss collaboration
One of the groups discussing collaboration.

Following this there was a chance for people to talk to each about the theme of ‘collaboration’ – including what they are looking for from collaborations, and what makes a good collaboration work. This sparked lively discussions about the benefits and challenges of collaboration. For example, one group emphasised the importance of a shared goal for harmonious collaboration but highlighted the drawback of competition for funding between organisations.

Interviews

During the event I interviewed four hub attendees on why they decided to come to the event, what projects they are working on, what has been successful so far, and lastly how their projects can be followed on social media which I’ve compiled into a short podcast.

During the event I interviewed:

  • Dr Andy Mycock from Huddersfield University about his ‘Voting Age Project’ research project which brings together past and present arguments for lowering the voting age to 16. Follow on Twitter @andymycock1
  • Eve Holt who is a Labour councillor and cofounder of Happen Together CIC which encompasses many campaigns addressing a range of issues including #DivaManc which focuses on encouraging gender balance in Greater Manchester leadership. Follow on Twitter @evefrancisholt.
  • Gary Hart who works for the Houses of Parliament as a Senior Education and Engagement Officer. Follow UK parliament on Twitter @YourUKParl  and get involved.
  • Alice Toomer McAlpine, a member of the Jam and Justice action research project which aims to bring new voices into decision-making in Greater Manchester; and the Meteor, an independent alternative media outlet in Manchester Follow on Twitter @JamandJustice and @mcrmeteor.

There have now been a number of hubs run between both London and Manchester and so along with The Politics Project we’re taking the chance to review how well these are working for people. Are these a good way of helping people connect up? Is there something else that would be more useful, like a shared events calendar, an online directory of local groups and individuals working on democracy, or a mailing list about local activities. If you have views about what would be most helpful for you, and what you’d like to get involved with, please get in touch via mat@demsoc.org

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