What happened at Summat New?

Posted 4 years ago

opeing panel

It’s hard to believe that it’s now over three weeks since Summat New! So what happened?! As I was part of the team organising the day, I have spent much of the past few weeks finding out from people who put on the workshops, facilitated activities, held stalls and most importantly, came along and threw themselves into the day.

Summat New was organised to launch this brand new Leeds for Change website, so please take the time to get yourself and your group registered, and have a really good explore. I’d particularly recommend checking out the skill share resource, the list of social change groups and upcoming events.

The aim of Leeds for Change is to connect up social change activity in Leeds, make it easier for people to get involved and better share resources. We thought that the best way to launch a project like this is with a day that shares the same aims – access, connect, and resource.

Looking at Leeds for Change website

We really hope that you got something out of the day, and would love to hear what it was!

Here’s what a few participants told us about the whole event:

I felt very energised and supported by ideas and actions on the day. I also came away with much more hope – big thing as I have been feeling so down recently with the political climate as it is.

It reinforces the knowledge that ‘I am not on my own’.

I already have an interest in social change but the event has strengthened my passion and the workshops were helpful in teaching me what I can do to help. I went away feeling more informed, inspired to make change and wanting to learn more about different groups/causes.

Please do email us or fill in the online feedback form if you’d like to tell us about your day at Summat New.

If you’d like to see this kind of event happen in the future, please consider regular giving to Tidal. If you donate through through Local Giving Tidal can get gift aid, so free extra ££s!

So, what happened?

In numbers, there were around 600 people attending a grand total of 34 workshops, eight open forum discussions, two speaker panels, 40 stalls, a kids space (Summat Small!), an arts space and a whole evening of food, song, awards and comedy.

And it begins…

The first speaker panel was a challenging title: How can we create massive, inclusive and effective social justice movements in 2014? We heard from Pragna Patel, Eleanor Lisney and Paul Mason. They shared their thoughts on how we can overcome barriers to social change – particularly in terms of building intersectional coalitions, learning to create movements which are accessible to disabled people and putting cracks in capitalism.

Pragna has kindly given us a copy of her speech which is reproduced in a blog article. Here’s a snippet to whet the appetite:

Contemporary social movements including feminism has a lot to contend with. We need to link our struggles without shying away from the need to develop a democratic emancipatory politics that is capable of facilitating coalitions that are secular, cross racial and transnational against patriarchy, global capitalism and religious fundamentalism. But we must stop separating off each of our struggles for fear of complicating and diluting the struggle. As Barbara Ransby, a black female historian and activist of the civil rights movement in the US once said: we don’t dilute by forming coalitions. We grow in strength. – Pragna Patel


Workshops, workshops, workshops!

After an inspiring and thought-provoking start to the day we were ready to get stuck into workshops. The sessions were all facilitated by groups in Leeds and our partners at the Economic Justice Project under the themes of connect, access and resource. They ranged from introductions to different issues and groups (e.g. TTIP – how we can beat the new corporate power grab) to skill shares (e.g. Impact! How to build an inclusive campaign).

Alison Phelps Ideal Community

It is very tricky to pick out what happened in the workshops, but we have some wonderful feedback, so I’ll let you people who were there do the talking:

There was lots of love for the Hannah Directory, and one person commented: The person who ran the workshop ‘Do places in England’s North matter?’ really knew how to involve all the people there, getting people to move physically near the beginning and listening to the various contributors.

People really got into the spirit of the day by helping put up the yurt! ‘I learned a very useful new skill when hosting a conversation that someone with a great deal of skill and experience very kindly shared, and very much enjoyed yurt-putting-up’

It was also brilliant to see the TTIP workshop spilling into the corridor.

TTIP workshop

We were really delighted to see so many people join the collaborative workshop that was run by Hands off our Homes with Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and Fuel Poverty Action. One participant said: In the ‘Poverty/Welfare’ open session I found there were many useful reflections on strategies and tactics. We have heard since that the three groups put together for Summat New are planning future action together and found it a really useful opportunity to share ideas.

The real test of a day like Summat New is what happens next – whether the connections made and ideas shared turn into action. So we were happy to hear from Matt of City of Sanctuary:

A woman came to talk to me after our workshop and we are now working together on how Bedford Fields forest garden initiative can engage with the asylum seeker and refugee community to learn about nutrition, gardening and well-being. Lots of other good connections were made, we’ve got over 30 new people signed up and we’ve got new volunteers and steering group members as a result.

Arts, conversation and song!


If you wanted to sit down for a proper natter, the place to go at Summat New was Tea & Tolerance. They are a performance duo who roamed around the event with a tea trolley filled with tea pots and cups from around the world, and four chairs. They invited people to join them for tea and conversation, with questions in unusual places! One person who joined the trolley said I had some brilliant conversations initiated by Tea & Tolerance who are fantastic. Did you have a conversation that you’d like to share with us?

Another place you could go outside the workshops was the arts space with Part and Parcel. They had tables set up with lots and lots of arts materials for you to make a card or a picture to send to someone in a detention centre or a prisoner of conscience around the world. The creations were displayed throughout the day and evening and are now on their way to light up people’s day around the globe. We have heard that this was some people’s real highlight of the day, so a massive thank you to Part and Parcel for hosting that space.

Singing workshop

One of the final workshops of the day was Sing Summat. The excellent Isolde Freeth-Hale brought together 40 people and turned them into a choir in just two hours! They learned Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around and the stirring Ise Oluwa (my love will never die). The choir performed the songs in the evening over dinner and had the audience in rapture. A very special moment.

Summat Small

The kids space was a real wonderland, with fairy lights on the wall, crayons everywhere and when I dropped in there was a father in the corner reading stories to a whole circle of children! We were lucky enough to have three activities spread throughout the day, from Leeds Development Education Centre, Leeds Woodcraft Folk and interactive dance from the Gracefool Collective. We also had a fantastic team of volunteers keeping the little ones entertained through the day. A massive thank you to you all!

Summat Small - kids space

I thought it was fantastic to have a kids space as it meant we could come as a family. It was a really well thought out programme to engage children of different ages with issues of global and local significance. – Jon, parent.

And for a little inspiration to take home…

After a full day of workshops and activities, we gathered back in the Riley Smith Hall at 5pm for the closing plenary to be inspired by our invited speakers – Clara Osagiede, Mike Vallance and Tina Louise Rothery. They spoke on Why we keep fighting: Inspiration for equality, justice and solidarity.

Clara Osagiede

Each panellist shared their stories of fighting for justice. Clara told us of her struggle for the living wage, not just for herself and her fellow cleaners on the London Underground, but now for all cleaners in London. Mike shared the story of Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and their experience organising unemployed people against workfare and much more. Finally, Tina Louise finished off the day by talking through her past few years opposing fracking in her local community and the changes that it has made to her life. A truly inspirational end to the day.

Summat New to Celebrate!

I have to admit that this was my favorite part of the event – partly because us the organisers could put our feet up for a moment and even squeeze in a cheeky pint!

Summat to Celebrate evening

After a very quick transformation of the Riley Smith hall (for the fourth time that day!) we gathered for dinner from The Real Junk Food Project. We ate a delicious meal featuring salmon and chicken followed by ice cream for desert! A really big thank you to the whole team of volunteers who cooked for 150 people. While eating we were serenaded by Summat New’s just-created-choir, plus our guest choirs – the Singing Mums and the Straybirds. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a meal at the end of a busy day.

Singing evening

Next up in our evening was the presentation of the Leeds for Change awards. We accepted nominations from across Leeds, and were delighted to announce the winners:

Best Digital – Hands off our Homes
Best Participation – The Real Junk Food Project
Best Collaboration – Leeds Cycling Campaign
Lifetime Achievement – Mary Keynes

Mary Keynes accepting her award

The tribute to Mary Keynes’ life of activism was especially moving, bringing a tear to many an eye. I especially enjoyed Mary sitting up after the speech was made and saying in her usual dry humour, ‘it’s all lies!’ Thank you Mary.

To finish up the evening we were very lucky to host the very excellent comedian, Chris Coltrane. People told us that this was one of the real highlights of the day, saying:

Chris Coltrane’s direct action stories were inspiring to hear!

There was this great comedian – he was really nice and was saying what we were thinking about the politicians!

Chris Coltrane

You can check out more of his work on his website and will be able to see his Edinburgh Fringe show soon.

Feedback and ideas for next time

We are still gathering feedback through the survey and interviews. If you have anything you’d like to tell us, please take this opportunity. We’re not sure at this stage whether there will be another Summat, so if you’d like it to happen, you’ll need to let us know!

We’d also love your thoughts on things like the length of workshops, the balance between speakers and workshops, arts space and anything else that you think could make the next Summat even better!

Thank you

We hope that you enjoyed Summat New. We want to thank you for getting involved, sharing your ideas and thoughts and coming together to take steps forward for positive action. We would also like to thank these people for helping to make Summat New happen:

  • Tidal
  • Leeds for Change steering group members
  • Together for Peace
  • The Economic Justice Project
  • Taking Soundings
  • Leeds Inspired
  • Leeds TUC
  • Opposite cafe
  • Leeds Bread Co-op
  • Costco
  • The Real Junk Food Project
  • Will Church
  • Ben Jackson
  • Gary Hanna
  • Fikir Assefa
  • All of our guest speakers, workshop leaders, stall holders, photographers facilitators and volunteers.

Thank you!!

If you got something out of Summat New and you’d like to see more activity to build strong movements for justice, please start a monthly donation to Tidal. It could be £5 or £50, it all adds up to help us be sustainable. Tidal is one of the founders of Leeds for Change and put lots of its resources into Summat New.

Here’s what a few of our supporters say about Tidal:

‘Tidal recognise that for us in Leeds to take action on the big issues of our time – environmental collapse, global justice and poverty – we need to be smart, organised and creative. This is what they do so well, and why I love supporting them!’
Steve Halpin

‘Tidal is a lynchpin for activism in Leeds and this has led to significant real-world change to transform communities.’
Simon Bowens

‘The need is great, so cooperation is essential. Tidal is key to making a difference.’
Martin Schweiger

Click here to start your monthly donation.

Just to leave you with some final love…