Ripples of Hope will also feature Marcus Rashford, Elif Shafak and more

The Ripples of Hope Festival unveiled the first view of its programme this week, featuring lawyer, politician and former Secretary of State (as well as the first female US presidential nominee) Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Poet laureate Simon Armitage, Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, footballer and activist Marcus Rashford, Manchetser spoken word collective Young Identity and Director of Manchester Museum Esme Ward will also be involved in the celebration of activism, community and how we live now.

Those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression

You won’t see the secret service scouting out the streets of Manchester just yet – Clinton will be joining the festival via video link.

The festival, which was launched last year at HOME, will take place in September and looks at the practicalities of human rights from several different angles.

170628 Home
The festival will be available online and in partnership with HOME

The inspiration behind Ripples of Hope Festival

Robert F Kennedy Human Rights UK, the charity organising the festival, says: “We exist to inspire and empower people to make decisions and take actions every day that will help make human rights reality for all - to become ripples of hope in their communities and across the world.

“We are at a critical moment in British and global history. We need to nurture a culture that is built on our shared humanity. The universal concept of human rights that Robert F. Kennedy championed is essential to that effort.

"Human rights – the best articulation and codification humanity has ever found for the fundamental interests of people – set out what society should deliver for people and can be a guide to be used and acted on in everyday decision-making until they are made a reality for all.”

Robert F Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States in 1968, but was assassinated before he could be formally nominated. In 1966 he delivered an address in apartheid South Africa which became known as the "Ripple of Hope" speech.

Robery F Kennedy Ripples Of Hope
Robert F Kennedy, who inspired the ideals of the festival

A snippet of his speech gives an idea of its impact: "Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Festival themes of dignity, justice, equality, human rights and environment

Each day of the main festival weekend will be built around a theme. Friday begins with conversations exploring the theme of dignity and justice, which sits at the very centre of human rights. Expect speakers to address criminal justice, the rights of the homeless, modern-day slavery, the care system, and policies that promote discrimination and masculinity and violence. 

Saturday addresses the belief that all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights. Speakers will look at the topics of economic fairness, sexual and gender rights; migration and marginalised communities, racism and privilege, disability rights the power of community and the attitudes of different global governments to human rights.

Finally, Sunday looks at how every aspect of our environment – its quality, its design, its stability and survival – determines our ability to make human rights a reality. Expect discussions of food politics, the design of cities, the future of sustainable fashion, ethical economic growth, young climate activists, indigenous knowledge and practical actions all of us can take.

Marcus Rashford Appears At Ripples Of Hope Festival Manchester
Marcus Rashford will be awarded the first Ripple of Hope Next Generation Award

Feasts of hope

Food is a dominant strand of the festival, looking at ways that communities can access good quality food in their area. An online taster event including to host their own community feasts, Sow the City and the Gaskell Garden Project discussed the huge effort across Manchester to build a local sustainable food network - this includes grassroots groups working around self-growing to large charities working on reducing waste. 

It is fitting then that local boy Marcus Rashford will receive the first Ripple of Hope Next Generation Award from Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F Kennedy Human Rights – the organisation behind the Festival – in recognition for his work campaigning against food poverty in children.

The Festival is inviting people and organisations across Greater Manchester to host their own community feasts - Feasts of Hope - to bring people together and strengthen the bonds of communities. Online workshops on how to carry out a Feast of Hope will run until September.

Lady Unchained Soul Journey Home Ripples Of Hope Festival Manchester
Brenda Birungi, aka Lady Unchained, curated the Soul Journey to Truth exhibition

A business summit will also sit alongside the main festival. The Ripples of Hope Business and Investment Summit is "an opportunity and space for senior-decision makers to pause and reflect on their role as a leader in creating our shared future," and will take place at HOME. The festival was preceded by the Soul Journey to Truth exhibition, which also ran at HOME, was curated by Lady Unchained and explored creative talent within prisons, secure settings and people on probation in the North West.

What's happening when

Friday 17: Activism and Participation

Speakers include human rights barrister Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; journalist Amelia Gentleman; CEO of In Place of War Ruth Daniel; former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal OBE; artist and educator David Tovey; Director of English PEN Daniel Gorman; with more speakers to be confirmed soon.

Elif Shafak will deliver the 2021 English PEN HG Wells Lecture, introduced by human rights lawyer Philippe Sands QC, while Simon Armitage will host the first Ripples of Hope Poetry Gala.

Saturday 18: Equity and Equality

Speakers include writer Sabeena Akhtar; human rights activist Peter Tatchell; leader of the Women’s Equality Party Mandu Reid; Director of Borderlines Sophie Besse; writer Hannah Pool; Manchester Museum Director Esme Ward; founder of Arts and Homelessness International Matt Peacock; with more speakers to be confirmed soon.

Sunday 19: Environment and the Planet

Speakers include 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi; former President of Ireland Mary Robinson; Chair of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights UK and entrepreneur Paul Lindley OBE; human rights lawyer Philippe Sands QC; Director for the Centre of Applied Human Rights at the University of York Paul Gready; founder of the Eden Project Tim Smit; sustainability activist and co-founder of Eco-Age Livia Firth; with more speakers to be confirmed soon.

Tickets start from £5 for an online pass to the festival weekend. Evening events such as the poetry gala and the PEN lecture are extra. Visit the Ripples of Hope website for further information and to book tickets.

Read next: The Warehouse Project returns to Manchester this September

Read again: A three-week indie arts fest is coming to Ancoats this summer

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