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This IS the north - ONLINE

A People’s Powerhouse Convention like no other…


So, how did our first ever online People’s Powerhouse Convention work in practice? 

We were anxious to get this right, we also knew that people wanted an outlet, an opportunity to engage, talk, share and come together in what has been an extraordinarily difficult year across Northern communities.  We also know that this year more than any, so much brilliant work was happening in communities across the North and we need to amplify this.

It is a privilege to provide the platform for all your amazing work, thoughts, ideas and inspiration.

38 events

“youth takeovers”

50% increase
in attendance

The digital format enabled us to do new things, bring more people together, to connect different geographics and communities which was fantastic.

Our opening Panel was invited to reflect on ‘Looking back, looking forward’ they each drew out the different ways in which so much has changed over 12 months. Yet, our focus and priorities hadn’t changed, albeit they have been put to the test.  

There was a unified view that the deep-rooted inequalities that affect so many of our Northern communities, the lack of transparency and opportunity in democracy and the unfairness around how the North is perceived and treated, all remain. The challenge is now bigger and more crucial. As we reflected on the last 12 months and the challenges that lie ahead, the shared sense of injustice as well as hope was tangible even whilst we were all zooming in from our own homes.

The Convention then moved on to its’ familiar format – where we provide the platform and you provide the content.  The online format presented no barrier to the variety, diversity and richness we always see. 

On lunch time on the first day of the Convention attendees had the opportunity to hear from Nazir Afzal OBE (former Chief Prosecutor for the North West) and Kim Leadbeater (Ambassador, Jo Cox Foundation) as they discussed the experiences of division in communities but ultimately the hope that there is more that unites us than that which divides us.

One advantage of the digital platform was to get each of the Mayors in listening mode, in our unique ‘Listening’ sessions. 15 organisations who do not usually get the opportunity to ‘be at the table’ had the undivided attention of the Mayors and audience.  Sally from Oldham said ‘My journey with Inspire has taken me along many paths and at moments like those we have had this year, a helping hand is so appreciated. Through the opportunity to speak with the Mayor, you enabled so many women to be heard today, thank you’.

  • Mutual aid provides new opportunities
  • Heart-breaking and unheard stories from COVID for justice families
  • 21st century governance in Sheffield
  • Community building in a crisis
  • Manifesto for a better normal

And many more…

“Each one teach one – it’s the Northern Way”

Professor Erinma Bell, Community Peace Actvitist and
1st ever woman sculpture in Manchester Town Hall

"It was an informative discussion on how we can all make a stand."

Gulwali Passarlay, Afgan Nomad, author, speaker

Should the North Take the Knee, asked Nazir on day two?  His stellar panel of people from pan-Northern, black and minority ethnic communities was an authentic, real, hard to hear, truth-hitting conversation. 

With their help, we’re looking forward to continuing the work we’ve started, working closely with ten people and organisations, launching a Northern Network for Racial Justice in early 2021.

Contact  to find out how to take part.

Bringing three Northern Metro Mayors, Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram and Jamie Driscoll, together with Professor Donna Hall CBE and Edna Robinson, Chair of Peoples’ Powerhouse, our final session brought us all back together, in conversation, about how we unite communities, how we use power to ensure that the North is heard.  The over-riding messages from people joining, was how do the voices of the ‘everyday’ person to be heard and listened to? 

We know that the next 12 months are going to be difficult for so many people and communities in the North. We have seen first-hand the unfairness and disproportionate effects of COVID and the economy on certain people and places. So, unsurprisingly this is what a lot of the discussion and sessions focused on over the two days.

Over the next 12 months we’ll be inviting you to work with us, to shine a light on your good work especially where it helps progress these key messages.

We will also challenge decisions and practices that go directly against the things that are important to us and that are detrimental to the North, its people and communities.

We look forward to seeing you again next year at our online series ‘people led recovery’ events.

5 themes over 2 days reflect our Peoples’ Powerhouse Charter

  1. Racial and social injustices have been laid bare by COVID

  2. Care, kindness, neighborliness & connectedness are Northern strong suits

  3. Fair, democratic & green is the ‘new normal’ economy we want. Build, Build, Build will not deliver that.

  4.  Voices of the North and its people have not been listened to

  5.  Accountability, transparency and accountability is essential to build more trust between those with power and people


To everyone that attended the Convention, thank you once again for making the two days so warm, lively, and diverse. Thank you to all the groups and people who took the time to come and share your work, ideas and learning, you truly are the powerhouse and you all played your part in making the Convention a great success.

Our address

The People's Powerhouse

Federation House
2 Federation Street
Manchester  M4 4BF

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