Game Changers of the future inspired by Greater Manchester suffragist movement

Photography – Nick Harrison

Young people from across Greater Manchester are learning how to put a modern twist on campaigning for their futures thanks to the great suffragists from the past that worked hard to create change across the borough.

Tandem Theatre have created a resource pack for young people to take part in activities for International Women’s Day. It includes free downloadable learning activities for children aged nine and above inspired by the campaigning of Greater Manchester suffragists from each of the ten Greater Manchester boroughs.

The pack also includes workshop videos hosted by local artists including activities such as making a stencil, screen printing, sash making, poetry writing, song writing and the downloadable resource pack includes activities on speech writing, debating, and orderly propaganda like poetry, art and design, posters and banners, writing letters and petitions.

Frances Nutt, artistic director at Tandem Theatre, who is running the Game Changers project, said:

“The project is about learning from female activists from the past to apply that learning to campaign for their futures – this is now more relevant than ever as women have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

“Crisis times such as these often uncover ways in which our society and culture—and its biases, imbalances and injustices—cause certain groups to be negatively and dramatically impacted – like women.

“So just like the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, we want young women in Greater Manchester to choose to challenge situations and make change. We help them become effective campaigners and leaders of the future and build self-esteem, social skills, confidence and raise aspirations with our new learning resources.

“We need to celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.”

The Game Changers project began in 2019 and was made possible with a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund. The project explores the movement of the ‘hidden’ female campaigners – the suffragists – and the peaceful methods they used to campaign for their right to vote – unlike the more militant and more famous suffragettes – which led to the Representation of the People Act 1918.

You can download the resource pack and watch the workshop videos here:

And we’re back…

Like other arts and community organisations, Tandem Theatre had to stop its activity in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown emergency.  This was tough on the participants of our VEAP (Vocational Employability Arts Programme) as they were just getting their teeth into the project. The facilitators could already see the progress being made, the increase in confidence and the groups were already working towards small-scale performances. All that had to be postponed indefinitely during the lockdown period and due to Greater Manchester still being under strict measures Tandem were unable to restart VEAP in Petrus, Rochdale or Salford Women’s Centre.

The need to adapt

Instead we have had to adapt and transform the programme into an online course. This is new for Tandem Theatre who specialise in facilitating creativity within group work settings. Part of the aim of Tandem’s sessions was facilitating social interaction between participants who lead isolated lives, to develop social skills for people who feel insecure and lack confidence and to encourage creative collaboration supporting communication and team-work skills. And that is what many have missed during lockdown and the current restrictions – socialising with others and spending time together. Living in isolation is not good for anyone’s mental health let alone people who are already vulnerable. Groups that Tandem facilitate therefore, need to continue but in a safe and healthy way. Tandem Theatre are committed to providing opportunities for creativity even in the most challenging circumstances.

Online Programme Launch

Tandem Theatre are therefore very happy to announce they will now be delivering the VEAP course as an online course. They are also very grateful to the European Social Fund for giving them this opportunity. Participants will still be able to work collaboratively in groups, they will just do so via Zoom. Skills we still be gained and developed, the qualifications will still be achieved and confidence and emotional wellbeing will still increase. In fact, now that the project is available online, we are able to have participants from all over Greater Manchester attend the sessions, we are not just limited to the Rochdale and Salford areas. We think this could be a new and exciting way of engaging more participants, especially those who can struggle with transport and who have anxiety issues over leaving their homes. This way people can achieve all the outcomes from the course whilst staying in the environment they feel comfortable with.

We are very excited to re-launch this programme as an online course and we look forward to meeting any new participants who wish to take part.

Courtesy of Yellow Jigsaw

From placards and protests to social media and selfies – youngsters put modern twist on historical women’s rights event

From placards and protests to social media and selfies, young people from across all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester came together for the first time to put their own modern-day twist on an historical women’s rights event.

The event at Manchester Central Library, which recreated the Women’s Bazaar of 1912, mirrored how it would have looked and felt more than 100 years ago with art displays of posters, placards and marketing materials, performances including dance and poetry, and a debate on education.

The groups of young people from across the 10 boroughs also each created a jigsaw piece to represent their area, and put them together at this event to show how change can be made and campaigns can be successful when people work in unity.

They showed off their new skills to become campaigners of the future in front of the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor June Hitchen.

She said: “As a woman from a proud working-class family, who was born and raised in Manchester, and still living on a council estate, I am passionate about young people being supported to raise their aspirations and reach their full potential. This event and the work that has been done before the event is doing just that.

“Although, many improvements have been made, it is just as important today to campaign for women’s rights, as it was for women in history, who created a path for us to follow.

“I hope this is just a start for these young people on their journeys to become active, vocal and successful citizens of Manchester.”

This event was part of our Game Changers project, which has been made possible with a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund, to explore the suffragists movement – helping the youngsters learn about the peaceful methods they used to campaign – unlike the more militant and more famous suffragettes.

Frances Nutt, artistic director at Tandem Theatre, who is running the project, said: “The young people who have taken part in this project have been amazing. A lot of them have never left their own boroughs before this event or engaged with the arts and history. So, for them to get to this point and understand why it is important to stand up for themselves and engage in campaigns that they believe in is an outstanding achievement.

“We wanted this project to highlight the lesser known suffragists, who used law abiding methods to campaign, to be an inspiration to these young people today. We are really proud of them all – and are looking forward to seeing more of their campaigns in the future.”

For more information on the project go to

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The new Suffragists: Project for young women across Greater Manchester aims to empower them to lead change.

Tandem Theatre is thrilled to announce a new project that will empower young women across all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester to become campaigners of the future.

The Game Changers project, which has been made possible by a £88,371 grant by Heritage Lottery Fund, will explore the movement of the ‘hidden’ female campaigners – the suffragists – and learn about the peaceful methods they used to campaign for their right to vote, which led to the Representation of the People Act 1918.

Frances Nutt, Artistic Director at Tandem Theatre, said: “In Manchester, the high-profile role of Emmeline Pankhurst and the more militant activities of the suffragettes can sometimes overshadow others who campaigned for women’s suffrage.

“So, we are excited to launch this new Game Changers project, which highlight the lesser known suffragists, who used law abiding methods to campaign.

“It is important, young women learn from the past on how to campaign for women’s rights – as it is still so relevant today. Last year, 2018, saw women’s marches, campaigns against the gender pay gap and the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, where many women have been outspoken about sexual harassment in the workplace – showing there is still work that needs to be done for gender equality.

“Through looking at the different methods women used to campaign for suffrage leading up to 1918, young women will be inspired, equipped and empowered to continue that campaign.

“I would like to say a big thank you to Heritage Lottery Fund – without whom it would not have been possible to reach young women in all ten Greater Manchester boroughs.”

Each young women’s group will attend skills workshops to help them become effective campaigners and leaders of the future and build self-esteem, social skills, confidence and raise aspirations.

They will also get the opportunity to visit the People’s History Museum, Archives+ and research campaigners from their respective borough to help them get inspiration to create a giant jigsaw piece in the shape of their borough decorated with information about local campaigners, along with other visual arts based on suffragist materials.

All 10 groups will enact the 1908 Manchester Demonstration by marching though Lark Hill Place, Salford Museum and Art Gallery in February, and the day after International Women’s Day (March 9) the groups will have pop up stalls in their local museums.

The project will culminate in a joint event on April 13 – where the young women from all the boroughs will come together for a performance and mock debate at Manchester Central Library recreating the Women’s Bazaar of 1912.

The project will support more than 150 young women across the 10 boroughs – including the participants and youth mentors, as well as hundreds more future generations, who will benefit from a key stage two resource pack that will be available to all Greater Manchester primary schools.

Tandem Theatre delivers participatory arts programmes for communities across Greater Manchester facing challenges specialising in vulnerable adults and young people. This Game Changers project aims to enhance young women’s knowledge and appreciation of arts, heritage and culture, improve mental health and emotional wellbeing, develop personal and social aptitude and increase vocational and employability skills.


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