Tracy Fishwick, Managing Director of social enterprise Transform Lives Company and a founding member of The People’s Powerhouse explains what the movement is all about and why she will be encouraging people and organisations attending EvoNorth to join her in signing the People’s Powerhouse charter.

What comes to mind when you think of the Northern Powerhouse? For most people the answer is commonly things like big business, fast trains, technology and ensuring the continued growth of our great northern cities like Leeds or Manchester.  Not many people would say that the Northern Powerhouse is predominantly about the needs of people and communities. And that’s what the People’s Powerhouse movement aims to change.

That doesn’t mean that all the things the Northern Powerhouse conversation has been about to date are wrong or unimportant. My social enterprise is based in Liverpool and believe me I get as frustrated about trying to get to places by train as anyone. But for me and lots of other people there’s a growing recognition that for a prosperous North we also need to think about people, skills, health and communities too. After all, we can’t have a true Powerhouse if many of the people living in it are fragile. We also need to think about more than our big cities and make a deliberate attempt to include people whose voices are not being heard to the extent they should be – the views of young people for example, or the voices of people who do not live in the North’s city regions. 

At our annual Convention in Bradford at the end of last year all sections of the community – policy makers, opinion formers, young people, businesses, MPs, community groups, charities and social enterprises – came together to share their stories, collaborate, find solutions and shine a spotlight on places right across the North, celebrating the creativity, innovation and talent of all our different regions. It was so inspiring, with dialogue focussed on what kind of ‘Powerhouse’ we really want to be, and how we can harness the combined skills of everyone to make it happen. We’re hoping to continue listening and having those discussions during EvoNorth – so pay us a visit on our stand or come and listen to our panel session in the afternoon on at 3.20pm on 27 February.

One thing we’ll certainly be doing at EvoNorth is encouraging as many people and organisations as possible to sign up to the People’s Powerhouse charter, a people-focused vision to transform the fortunes of the North. It’s all about building an inclusive, collaborative region; with trust between the people and power; where our diverse voices and strengths are represented; with a good economy that works for more people, and a focus on the value of all our places, not just the big cities.  A North that works for all of the people of the North, not just some people.

To find out more and hear from some other people about why they’ve signed up to the People’s Powerhouse charter watch our video at www.peoplespowerhouse.org.uk

The People’s Powerhouse movement will be exhibiting at EvoNorth and there will also be a People’s Powerhouse panel at 3.20pm on Feb 27.