Presented by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights organisation, the Ripples of Hope Festival took place over three days (17–19 September) at HOME Manchester.
I was only able to attend on one day, but it was packed with workshops and activities. The opening session “Dignity & Justice – Where are we now?” was introduced by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, one of the UK’s most distinguished human rights lawyers.
She talked about the trends defining our future and spoke about spoke what we must do not just locally, but nationally and internationally.
In another workshop, Amelia Gentleman, who has written unwaveringly about the harsh treatment of the Windrush generation, spoke about the power of policy and the intended and unintended consequences.
I attended workshops on “Equity & Equality” led by award-winning author and broadcaster Gary Younge and “Progress” with campaigner Peter Tatchell and poet and playwright Caroline Bird.
I also went to a workshop “Last Night I dreamed of … Manchester?” with Magdalen Bartlett, founder of Afrocats and Maria Houlihan, Social Worker at the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit. The subject was migration and the search for a new life. All the workshops included an element of poetry and Billy Bragg and others made some pre-recorded contributions.
I attended the Walk of Peace, exploring the radical history of Manchester during the lunch break and a Human Library – a space for an intimate conversation with a real person. I had a chat with Stef Benstead who started a PhD but had to leave due to chronic illness. This diverted her interest to the Social Security system and how it treats sick and disabled people.
We heard poems from Young Identity in the foyer. They are a local poetry collective expressing their reflections on the day.
In the evening, there was entertainment convened by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, who brought together thirty poets from around the world to create a new body of work unveiled over three nights. The world premiere of “A Poetic Declaration” is a unique response to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and featured music from Jaydev Mistry.
The whole event celebrated the power of people to make human rights a reality for all.