In 2016, the Trust awarded funding to the Jubilee Debt Campaign to deliver, amongst other things, twelve in-depth workshops across the UK. A total of seven workshops were organised in five Further Education colleges, including Croydon College, New VIC College, West London College, Coleg Menai and Coleg Llangefni, reaching 182 students. The workshops focused on workers’ rights, low pay and precarious work in order to better understand the dynamics of economic inequality across the UK. Five whole-day economics workshops were also delivered in five UK cities in 2017 – Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, London and Birmingham, with an average of 15 attendees at each workshop. A two-day social and economic justice convergence was also held in Middlesbrough in April 2017. Entitled ‘Teesside Together’, it was attended by more than 100 people from diverse backgrounds and from across the Teesside area. The funds from the Trust helped to pay the travel fares for those who would have otherwise been unable to attend, including refugees and benefit-claimants.
The impact of the workshops was extremely successful, with participants leaving feedback such as:
‘Now I know my workers’ rights and what should I do when my boss, for example, doesn’t pay me enough.’
‘I have the right to feel safe and the right to change my working hours by doing a flexible working request.’
In 2017, the Trust awarded funding to Townsend Theatre, which collaborated with the Grunwick40Project and their theatre, trade union, museum and library partners to produce a piece of high-quality touring theatre as part of the 40th anniversary commemorations of the 1976-78 Grunwick dispute and to celebrate the contribution of the leader of the Grunwick Film Processing Factory Strike, Jayaben Desai. Excerpts of the production were further performed at Trade Union conferences, and the production was a centrepiece of seminars at Ruskin College and the Marx Memorial Library. The show successfully toured to venues across the UK, and was critically acclaimed in national and local newspapers, resulting in a 4-star review in the Observer. The show also featured in the Guardian readers’ top 10 shows of 2017, as well as in the Critics’ Choice 2017 in LondonTheatre1.
In 2016, the Trust awarded funding to Comma Press – a not-for-profit publishing initiative dedicated to promoting new writing, with an emphasis on the short story – to pursue the publication of an anthology entitled Protest! Studies of Resistance, which was published in September 2017. The anthology features highly prestigious writers such as Laleh Khalili, Sara Maitland, David Reicher and Kit de Waal – to mention just a few. The anthology includes writing from twenty authors in total who, in close consultation with historians, sociologists and eyewitnesses, portray key moments of British protest, from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to the anti-Iraq War demo of 2003, through the form of fiction.
In 2017, the Trust awarded funding to Spring Reign. Spring Reign was developed in association with the Rethink Rebuild Society (a Syrian community organisation in Manchester), and scripted by Manchester writer Rob Johnston. The play toured theatres nationally, during May and June 2017, including the Lowry (Salford), Harrogate Theatre, Cast (Doncaster), Live@TheLibrary (Oldham), the Albany (London), the Old Fire Station (Oxford), Nottingham Playhouse, the Assembly Rooms (Durham University) and the Hyde Festival Theatre. The play received outstanding reviews in major media outlets, and received four-star reviews from The Reviews Hub and the Yorkshire Post. The Guardian’s review of the play described it as ‘Compelling – both as theatre and in its attempt to bear witness and give a voice to Syrian people.’