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The Future of Democracy Hub Day

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Jon Alexander credit Andy Galloway

In partnership with The Convention

Join us in Sheffield Town Hall as we make space to get inspired and create the future we want for democracy. Co-curated by author and activist Jon Alexander and the Festival of Debate.

Focusing on what could be in the future, not just what’s wrong now, we’ll get inspiration from experts and experimenters from the other side of the world, and from right here in Sheffield. Democracy might be in crisis, but it’s also true that a whole new idea of democracy is taking shape - and Sheffield could be at the heart of it.

Featuring Shami Chakrabarti, Olivia Blake MP, Camilla Vergara, Indy Johar (Dark Matter Labs), Jessie Joe Jacobs (Involve), Simon Duffy (Citizen Network), Barnaby Flynn & many more.


Keynote Address from Jon Alexander, Author of 'Citizens – Why The Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us'

The Future of Democracy Is Already Here

Panel Discussion ft. Ece Temelkuran, Indy Johar, Camila Vergara

Ece Temelkuran is a Turkish journalist and author who has been published in The Guardian, New York Times, New Statesman, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel. Her two most recent books are ‘How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship’ and ‘Together : 10 Choices for a Better Now’

Indy Johar is an architect and the co-founder of Dark Matter Laboratories, an organisation developing new support frameworks for collaborative system change. He has also co-founded multiple social ventures from Impact Hub Westminster to Impact Hub Birmingham.

Dr. Camila Vergara is a critical legal theorist, historian, and journalist from Chile writing on the relation between inequality, corruption, and domination, and how to institutionally empower common people to resist oppression from the powerful few.

A Short Talks Programme Including:

Neighbourhood Democracy Movement

With a growing membership of over 40 neighbourhood groups across the UK, NDM seek to amplify and connect those people who are creating real democracy in their communities and shifting power towards local people.

Everyone has a unique contribution to make to their community and people must have more power to make decisions on the issues that affect them at every level.

Decommission International Divide and Rule

What can we do to create a sense of our common humanity in our communities in the face of a perfect storm of planetary problems? Can we create rules without rulers via Earth Citizens’ Assemblies? Talk by Barnaby Flynn (Global People Power)

The Democracy Network

The Democracy Network is a new initiative to build and strengthen the democracy sector. It will bring together people passionate about democracy from across the UK to support collaboration and build our collective power and influence. Talk from Jessie Joe Jacobs (Involve)

UBI Lab Network

Founded in Sheffield, The UBI Lab Network is a worldwide partnership of citizens, researchers and activists advocating for pilots of Universal Basic Income. Recent successes include UBI Lab Wales lobbying the Welsh Government to launch the first ever basic income pilot in the UK for care leavers, an innovative feasibility study in Northern Ireland, and the passing of over 30 council motions in support of pilots. Hear how the network operates and what it has in store for 2022.

Open Space - Participants at the conference will be able to table suggestions to host a number of ‘Open Spaces’ to discuss their own ideas about the future of Democracy.

Pop Up Camerados Public Living Room- a no agenda space, where folk can go to just be themselves alongside others, a warm welcoming place that offers no services just the company of fellow humans alongside one another.

People in the Camerados Movement believe that the simple act of being more human by ‘looking out for each other’ can be transformative, especially when people are experiencing tough times. Camerados is based on a simple belief that having ‘People and Purpose’ in your life is the most important thing.

Resisting the New Authoritarianism

Ft Shami Chakrabarti, Olivia Blake MP & Sheffield Against The Policing Bill

Through a wave of recent legislation this Government has launched the biggest attack on civil liberties in living memory. The creation of this anti-civil liberties infrastructure is part of a wider trend toward authoritarianism, which needs to be resisted by politicians, campaign groups and civil society alike. Join us for a discussion about the scope of what’s been proposed, and how we can resist and what are the alternatives?

Shami Chakrabarti is a member of the House of Lords, Labour politician, barrister and former director of the human rights group Liberty. She was shadow attorney general for England and Wales from 2016 to 2020, and was director of Liberty from 2003 to 2016.

Olivia Blake MP was elected as the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam at the 2019 general election.

Closing Plenary – What Can We Do From Where We Are?

Closing Statements from Simon Duffy, Jackie Weaver and Jon Alexander.

Dr Simon Duffy is a philosopher and social innovator who works to create a world where everyone matters. Simon is President of Citizen Network, which is a global non-profit cooperative, with members in 34 different countries.

Jackie Weaver became a viral internet star after hosting a meeting of the Handsworth Parish Council. She is a chief officer of Cheshire Association of Local Councils and author of ‘You Do Have The Authority Here’.

Jon Alexander - Founder of the New Citizenship Project and author of 'Citizens – Why The Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us'

5.30-7pm - Post Event -
Democracy Drinks at the Showroom Cinema Cafe
#DemocracyDrinks Sheffield will be hosted by the Democracy Network as part of the Festival of Debate. It will be a great way of making new contacts and catching up with people you know; for testing ideas and planning actions; for moral support and inspiration.

This event has it's own eventbrite sign up here

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti is the former Director of Liberty and former Shadow Attorney General.


Olivia Blake MP is the Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam and serves as the Shadow Minister for Climate Change.

Barnaby Flynn has spent the last 20 years street campaigning, inviting people to consider the systemic root causes, and solutions to issues that concern them. His favourite thing is finding common ground with people who have different world views. Barnaby is the founder of Global People Power, part of the Global Democracy Initiative. He is in the Outreach Working Group of the Independent Constitutionalists UK redesigning UK democracy, active with Extinction Rebellion, Positive Money and formerly Occupy Democracy and Climate Camp. He works for a UK nature conservation charity which underpins his passion for campaigning.


Emmott Baddeley is an organiser with Sheffield Against the Policing Bill and the Foodhall Project.

Part of our 2022 festival strand


How can we reimagine citizenship and our democracy?