“To change the conversation, we have to change who is part of it”

A vision for success

A businesswoman whose career has been dedicated to supporting people find employment, is spearheading a social movement to help shape Northern Powerhouse dialogue and plans.

Tracy Fishwick, Managing Director of Transform Lives based on Hope Street, Liverpool, is part of the team behind the ‘People's Powerhouse’, a movement that aims to start a dialogue about inclusive and good growth and its potential to transform communities and lives across the North of England.

The People's Powerhouse aims to involve people, organisations, charities and networks from across the North of England. Its aim is to help shape the Northern Powerhouse debate, moving it forward to create a North which works for everybody.

The idea for the People's Powerhouse was sparked in February following the Northern Powerhouse Conference in Manchester which was criticised for its lack of female speakers. Explains Tracy: “I saw the tweets about the Northern Powerhouse conference and immediately spotted that there were no women on the panel. But it wasn't just who was there, it was what they were talking about as well as what wasn’t being discussed. The agenda was all about buildings, trains, economic growth - nowhere did it mention anything about people. Our aim is to change that.”


Tracy worked at leading the employment and skills agenda in Liverpool city region for 16 years including setting up Knowsley Works, which was and still is at the forefront of helping unemployed people get jobs. She later become director of the Future Jobs Fund in Greater Manchester, securing £52 million in funding which went on to help more than 8,000 young people finds jobs. Four years ago she up Transform Lives in Liverpool, a social enterprise working to create work experience opportunities and deliver training to help people gain the skills to get into work.

Says Tracy: “I knew from the work I’d done for years that even when there is huge economic investment in an area, the wealth doesn’t always trickle down to local communities. it’s about ‘who’ benefits from economic growth, not just growth itself.  Any investment as a result of the Northern Powerhouse must put people first and that narrative appears to be missing, which is why what we started saying on twitter really hit a nerve. People are concerned about how growth relates to social justice, inclusion and poverty. We’ve been inundated with encouragement and support from across the spectrum including think tanks, businesses, charities and local people."


Tracy hopes that the People's Powerhouse events will help shift the debate and deliver a Northern Powerhouse around which a wider coalition of organisations, voices and backgrounds from across the North shape an agenda which works for everyone.

“Our hope is that the People's Powerhouse brings about a step change in the debate; putting people and communities at the heart of Powerhouse plans, not at the periphery. We’re here to support the Powerhouse discussions by talking about people regeneration as well as place regeneration. We definitely need both - they’re not mutually exclusive – but when you do one without the other, it’s a missed opportunity,” says Tracy.

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* These blogs are a collection of thoughts and opinions from people living or working in the North. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the People's Powerhouse.




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2 Federation Street
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