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Women change-maker festival in GM: what’s it all about?

At Happen Together we have teamed up with Flourish CIC and amity HCD to co-design and create a festival to showcase the talents, innovation and heritage of women change-makers who increase social and economic independence of communities of Greater Manchester whilst creating positive social change.

You can continue to vote for us to be in with a chance for some seed funding at Aviva Community Fund until 22nd November.

But we don’t just want your votes - we want to get you involved and part of our project. Only by collaborating can we together harness the talents, ideas, products, innovation and heritage of women change-makers across Greater Manchester to accelerate the impact of our work, your work and the work of many others to realise this vision.

So, we thought it would be helpful to reflect some more on what brought us to this idea and where our thinking is on the project, and hopefully encourage you to come on board with us!

From a personal perspective, working as a freelance coach, facilitator and change-maker of many other descriptions, being involved with this project is about seeking solutions, through the strength of our peers. Finding our way(s) to address a frequent conversation I have with other women working for ‘social good’ and having an identifiable impact on making their communities better places to be. And not waiting for permission from those who may consider they have it to give or ready-formed answers from the institutions ‘in control’. That conversation is essentially about the ‘value’ of our work - to ourselves, to our communities and to society as a whole. Often it’s a really hard conversation about valuing ourselves, ultimately it's often about, "how can I continue to make the contribution that I know, and others know is important if it's not financially valued".

We may in 2018 commence the centenary of women starting to get the vote but 100 years later there remains significant inequalities between the lives of women and men in the UK; the major shift we now require in progress to gender equality is the equal value and recognition of the work- both paid and unpaid - of women, the contribution we make to our communities.

Women play an essential role in identifying the kind of changes needed to improve the lives and experiences of our communities, and understanding what needs to happen to get there. History is full of stories of women seeing, thinking and getting on and doing something about - too often stories we don’t know enough about (which is why our festival has an important heritage angle).

But still when it comes to making that change happen effectively, and in a way that is sustainable for both those women and those who would benefit women continue to face barriers. We, and our contributions, are less likely to be visible, we see and celebrate fewer women role models in public life, our access to political, institutional and civic power continues to be restricted, we are both less likely to approach and have less access anyway to funding and resources to support and scale-up our work. All of this can be evidenced. Perhaps less evidential, but just as important, is the emotional and too often physical exhaustion that comes for many women who have used their energy endlessly to create change but without recognition - financially, publicly, through bigger systems accepting that change; worn down by the internal and external struggle of achieving the changes we know will have an impact on us all.

Our 'festival(s)' is only one initiative, part of a much bigger network to bring women change makers and those that support them together to collaborate to find solutions, share good practice and build a belief from the inside out to change our culture as a society. Other work will emerge, and we hope it will join up with other similar visions outside of Greater Manchester.

We want to be women-led, women-powered, co-producing and developing the idea with women who are making and want to make a difference, promoting greater resilience, success and scaling up the impact of women making change by:

  • increasing skills, capacity, sustainability and social impact of women change-makers or those who aspire to be, by continuing to learn from what works and to experiment and adapt

  • building upon a legacy of collaborative working to develop culture of inclusion and diverse collaboration across the women’s sector and wider movement

  • increasing visibility of our current women change-makers and awareness of and connection to our women change-makers of the past

  • making progress towards equal value and equal pay of all women’s work to support financial independence of women in Greater Manchester by helping broker new relationships between women change-makers and potential funders, investors, influencers and customers

  • growing the network of women change-makers across Greater Manchester by building cross-sector connectivity and learning between women change-makers, piloting activities to deliver greatest impact and sustainability.

We want to build a resilient future and equip current and future women change-makers with the beliefs, tools and assets needed to make towns and cities thriving places where women are involved strategically and practically in creating positive social change in their area. We hope you want to join us!

You can VOTE here for our Aviva Community Fund until 22nd November. You can contact us to be involved at

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Happen Together CIC

For you, for your work, for social change

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