Senior figures from the worlds of human rights, arts, politics and business came together at HOME to reimagine and explore new ways of thinking and acting to create a world in which everyone can thrive, and to mark the launch of the new 2021 Ripples of Hope Festival in the city in just twelve months’ time.

Presented by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights UK, the first-ever Ripples of Hope Business & Investment Summit explored the role of business – and business leadership – in creating a future that serves people.

Over 100 senior decision makers from the business, finance and technology sectors shared ideas with speakers including Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the first female Prime Minister of Denmark, activist and business owner Gina Miller and Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and President of the US sister charity.

Following the day-time summit, which included panel sessions and interactive workshops, the 2021 Ripples of Hope Festival was launched in the evening.

Taking part in all the sessions through the day Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy said: “Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights UK exists 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.

“I’m delighted that we are launching our 2021 Ripples of Hope Festival in Manchester to celebrate the power of people to create change. It is a strong, collaborative and forward-thinking city with a fascinating history, which made it the perfect place to not only deliver the summit, but to create the 2021 festival together with communities. Our work with the people of Greater Manchester so far has been a real privilege and we’re excited to see what we bring to life together in the coming twelve months”.

Highlights from the summit included thought provoking on-stage discussion from CEO of HSBC UK Ian Stuart; Paul Lindley OBE, Founder of Ella’s Kitchen; Author of The Triple Bottom Line, John Elkington; Kim Polman, Reboot the Future Founder; Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham; Lord Michael Hastings; Eric Collins, Founder of Impact X Capital; and 53˚ Capital Partner Eva Bishop.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt discussed what gives her hope while on stage:

“As people we have more in common than we think – which gives me hope,” she said. “When you are with young people and hear their demands, what they are thinking and what they want from the

world – that gives me hope. The world today is better than yesterday. Children are healthier, wealthier and are better educated than they have ever been in history, which is progress.”

Gina Miller, in the same panellist discussion, said:

“People give me hope. When we see suffering, people do speak up and act and be kind. And when people step away from the noise, there is a sense of right, of justice and compassion. That gives me hope.”

A number of interactive workshops took place during the summit, including the role of business in making our environment clean and sustainable, creating a fair and inclusive economy and fostering a healthy and safe society. Leaders’ Quest also facilitated Leadership of the Future workshops entitled Alive at Work, Breakthrough Conversations and Peak Performance.

Launch for the Ripples of Hope Festival in 2021

The Summit was followed by the launch of The Ripples of Hope Festival, to take place 11-14 February 2021 across Greater Manchester.

An audience of 400 community, political, faith and business leaders, activists and citizens came together at HOME – Manchester’s new centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film – to enjoy spoken word poetry from the brilliant voices of Young Identity, a reading by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and a performance by Sifiso Mazibuko, fresh from his award-winning run as Aaron Burr in Hamilton.

They were joined onstage by inspirational speakers sharing thoughts on the power we all have to create change in our world including the Rwandan Genocide Survivor and author Illuminee Nganemariya, Jane Cocking (the CEO of Manchester’s own Nobel Peace Prize Winners The Mines Advisory Group) and Jude Kelly, The Artistic Director of The Ripples of Hope Festival.*

The Ripples of Hope Festival is scheduled to take place across Greater Manchester from February 11 to February 14 in 2021 – and will be created, designed and developed in partnership with its people.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights UK said its vision was to build the Festival – supported by Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority – to be an international events platform by 2025.

Towards the end of the event Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, spoke with enthusiasm about the festival plans:

“We believe the vision for the Ripples of Hope Festival has a unique space to bring human rights to life, to make them actionable and rooted in community, to celebrate the power of people. To make them a reality fits perfectly into our vision for Manchester.

“If you are going to bring together a space that celebrates social impact, the arts, community organisations, people and power Manchester is the only place to be.

“I will ask you all to join us, with your ideas, with your efforts, with your expertise. Together we can make it an incredible success that can create huge value – economic, social, human and artistic for our communities and our city. And to paraphrase another Kennedy, ask not what this festival can do for you, ask what you can do for this festival.”


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