Back in April we celebrated the suffrage centenary work with schools and young people in Manchester that Happen Together delivered in 2018 with The Pankhurst Trust, Rise Voice Vote. We gathered at Federation House with young people, women’s organisations, activists, campaigners, youth workers and democracy organisations. We had stirring performances from Certain Curtain Theatre Company of Edith Rigby in Woman on Fire! and the music of Emma Mould, including an audience participation rewrite and collaboration with event organiser Carol and her Zebra Partnership tribe of Children of the Revolution (coming hopefully to a download service on behalf of the Pankhurst soon!).
Amidst the wonderful creativity, colour and celebration we heard a clear message that the Rise Voice Vote project is not complete; an urgent call for organisations and young people to come together, to collaborate and deliver the political and citizenship education our young people both deserve and need to deliver the change they want for a better world of the future.
For the Pankhurst Trust continuing to raise awareness and create opportunities to learn from the women-led activism of the past and present to inspire political participation, activism and campaigning is critical. Gail Heath, CEO of The Pankhurst Trust and Women’s Aid spoke passionately about the Trust’s work in reaching out to young people as a critical part of,
"all the ways we want to make the world a safer and fairer place".
So we are delighted to be bringing the Rise Voice Vote toolkit, and a range of other ideas for good practice in gender-sensitive political and citizenship education to the Manchester City Art Gallery on 7th August. This British Council event aimed at 10 years and up is part of the programme of work to mark 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre and specifically focuses on the theme Women, Power Politics: Connect, Inspire & Learn.
This work could not be more timely. The publication of the Hansard Society’s annual Audit of Political Engagement only four days after our April event offered particularly stark and scary warnings. This recorded the lowest opinions of the governing system since the audit started; an increasing appetite for radical political changes, including authoritarianism, based in pessimism about the country’s problems and the possible solutions; and intensifying feelings of powerlessness and disengagement. Our call to action is to support young people to engage and find their power, to start earlier in life before feelings of powerlessness take hold.
“Rise Voice Vote seizes the opportunity presented by the 2018 centenary to build on suffragette legacy, and local activism of past and present, to accelerate young people’s political participation in Manchester. Set against a background of devolution and the campaign for votes at 16, this is a really exciting and timely initiative creating cross-generational connectins and collaboration between schools, citizen leaders and grass roots organisations.”
Eve Holt, Happen Together CIC
The Rise Voice Vote toolkit is one tool to support those working with young people to open this dialogue and learning, in a creative and fun way. It specifically draws on themes of women-led activism, the campaigns for sex equality and roots this within a strong sense of Manchester and Greater Manchester. We want every young person in Manchester to be using the toolkit and it will be sent to every secondary school.
Our ambition is for every young person to have visited the Pankhurst Centre to experience the space where the suffragette movement was formed as a platform to consider the change they want to see in the world and how they can be part of making that happen. As part of an ambition for Greater Manchester to offer its young people the best education in political and citizenship education in the UK.
You can support this ambition by:
Using the toolkit if you are a teacher, youth or community worker
Sharing the toolkit with a teacher or school that you have contact with
Share with us on social media the work young people do as a result of the toolkit
Talk to a young person about the history of women-led activism and why it matters
Contact us if you want to run a bigger project with the toolkit!
And you can book a place or a group to attend the 7th August event here.
Rise Voice Vote was funded as part of Manchester’s Centenary City programme. Led by Happen Together CIC on behalf of the Pankhurst Trust the toolkit results from collaboration with PIE (Pursuing Individual Excellence), The Sylvia Pankhurst Gender and Diversity Research Centre at MMU, The Proud Trust and The Politics Project amongst many other women-led organisations, activists and creatives.