Ripples of Hope Festival: Policy and justice event highlights

The Ripples of Hope Festival celebrates the power of people to make human rights a reality for all.

With events including the unveiling of a new poetic response to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an In Conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton and three days of discussions, workshops, storytelling and performances, this brand new 5-day festival asks us to think about the challenges we face as communities and as humanity.

There are dozens of events taking place at this year’s Ripples of Hope Festival, so to help you plan we’ve chosen some highlights for audiences particularly interested in policy and justice. The programme also covers activism, culture, climate change and lots of other topics, so be sure to check out the full programme at

Day passes for the event cost £20, or £45 for all three days, with concessions available and lower prices from £6 for people who are less able to pay.

Dignity and Justice: Where are We Now? (Friday, 17 Sep, 10am)

Day one of the Ripples of Hope Festival is introduced by one of the UK’s most distinguished human rights lawyers, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, as she takes stock of where we are now; the forces and trends defining our future and what we must do now – locally, nationally and internationally. Joining Baroness Kennedy will be poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker, Ripples of Hope’s Artistic Director Jude Kelly CBE, and Manchester-based writer, performer and producer, Keisha Thompson.

The Power of Policy: Intended and Unintended Consequences (Friday 17 Sep, 11.15am)

Policy has the power to change every part of our lives – for good or bad. But so much about it is hidden in faceless bureaucracy, making it impossible to fight or challenge on a human level. How we make policy and who we make it for impacts all of us. So – how can we use the power of policy to create positive social change? Join journalist and author Amelia Gentleman, Jude Kelly CBE, Artistic Director of the Ripples of Hope Festival, poet Togara Muzanenhamo and Sally Penni MBE, Founder of Women in the Law.

We have a justice system, but do we have justice? (Friday 17 Sep, 11.15am)

Many believe prisons are not fit for purpose. Help us think about life before, in and after prison and how we can shape the future of criminal justice in the UK. Do our prison and justice systems really make society safer or fairer? Speakers include advocate and poet Brenda Birungi, AKA Lady Unchained, who curated the recent exhibition Soul Journey to Truth at HOME, Paula Harriott, Head of Prisoner Engagement at the Prison Reform Trust, Phil Maguire, Chief Executive of the Prison Radio Association, and Michelle Quirke, Governor at Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service.

What if the law IS an ass? (Friday, 17 Sep, 1.30pm)

The law is imperfect: From legal challenges to creating law where none exists – join Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, campaigner Gina Miller and activist Figen Murray to discuss how we can move from legal injustice to enabling human rights to be reality through law.

Stuck: Social Mobility in the UK (Saturday, 18 Sep, 11.15am)

Even before COVID, our society faced stagnant social mobility – fewer opportunities; flatlining real wages; and declining living standards – with deepening inequality. Covid has only intensified that reality and made the task of getting moving again much harder. In a society in which our class, religion, race, gender, disability and financial status can severely limit your social mobility, how can we break through those barriers? Speakers include Sabeena Akhtar, writer and editor Cut from the Same Cloth, Janice Allen, headteacher of Falinge Park High School, Mumtaz Bashir, MD of Women International Collaborate and Alan Milburn, Chair of The Social Mobility Foundation.

Human Rights and the Next Frontiers (Sat 18 Sep, 1.30pm)

The state of human rights is constantly changing – Gracie Bradley (Interim Director, Liberty), Maya Foa (Co-Executive Director, Reprieve), Mandu Reid (Leader, Women’s Equality Party) and Sjon (novelist and lyricist) discuss removing structural racism, rethinking asylum on a warming plant, the equitable sharing of the vaccine globally and other frontiers of human rights. As we look at the world now, what are the new frontiers and possibilities for human rights?

Last Night I Dreamed of … Manchester? (Sat 18 Sep, 1.30pm)

Migration and the search for a new life, be it survival or the opportunity to flourish, is the story of humanity. But what is it really like to arrive in Manchester – with your hopes, dreams, worries and fears – and make it your home? How can we support and welcome people who arrive here? Join speakers including Magdalen Bartlett, Founder and CEO of Afrocats, Sophie Besse, Artistic Director of PSYCHEdelight Theatre Company, Maria Houlihan, Social Worker at the Greater Manchester Aid Immigration Unit, Wilson Nkurunziza, Councilllor at Salford City Council and writer Victoria Redel to discuss Manchester’s place in the story.

Stop Screwing Up Our Future (Sun, 19 Sep, 2.45pm)

In the face of the climate crisis, deepening inequality and rising authoritarianism, never has that generational promise “to pass on a better world to our children” seemed more unlikely. Young people all over the world are rightly demanding more. Join young leaders including climate justice activist Rabia Begum, writer and lecturer Sean Borodale and Emma Greenwood, Youth MP for Bury Council, to explore the question – what actions have we got to take now for all of our future?

For more information, to see the full lineup, or to book tickets, visit