Pankhurst Centre needs public funding, say women’s rights activists

Campaigners hope centenary of women gaining the vote might bring change of fortunes for Manchester museum dedicated to suffragette movement

Inside the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester, the birthplace of the suffragette movement
 Inside the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester, the birthplace of the suffragette movement. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

The Women’s Social and Political Union, an organisation that campaigned for woman’s suffrage in the UK, was founded in the parlour of Emmeline Pankhurst’s home in Chorlton-on-Medlock, south Manchester, in 1903.

The building currently houses a three-room museum – including the parlour – along with the charity Manchester Women’s Aid, which supports victims of domestic abuse. The museum is staffed by volunteers and receives no public funding, instead relying on donations. It opens to visitors between 10am and 4pm on Thursdays and for three hours every other Sunday.

The Representation of the People Act, which gave the vote to all men over 21 and women over 30 who met certain property qualifications, was passed into law in February 1918. As the centenary approaches, calls have been made to fund the Pankhurst Centre to make it a “major and significant museum” that tells the story of women’s suffrage and the subsequent women’s rights movement.

The writer and activist Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, said the building held symbolic significance. “This is the real building where a historical event happened that defined this pivotal change in our ideas of citizenship,” she said.

“Yet there is no other public funding for it. Is this again the perpetuation of women’s interests not being valued, not being given real power and visibility? I think the answer to that is a resounding yes.”

Gail Heath, the director of the Pankhurst Trust, said that while the Museum of London and the People’s History Museum both had displays dedicated to the suffragettes, the country should have a properly funded museum dedicated to the subject.

“The more the suffragette story is talked about the better, because it is inspirational,” she said. “A little group of women got together in that parlour downstairs. Emmeline was a single parent at the time, she had a part-time job, and they started a revolutionary movement. It’s a story that needs to be told.”

The building is owned by Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS foundation trust, which in 1979 applied for permission to demolish it. Following a campaign by the Victorian Society and other local groups, the authority agreed to lease the house to the Pankhurst Trust indefinitely in return for a symbolic payment of one suffragette sash every year. It was finally opened to the public by Barbara Castle and Helen Pankhurst in 1987.

The Pankhurst Centre merged with Manchester Women’s Aid in 2014, providing a mutually beneficial arrangement in which the museum was given more financial security and the charity had a space to run from. The building functions as a women’s centre, and has a food bank in its basement. “One of the defining things about the Pankhurst Centre is that we are not just a museum,” said Heath. “We are still active in the struggle.”

Last year the museum – with its photographs and assorted suffragette memorabilia – welcomed 2,700 visitors from across the world. “People come here because it is almost an act of pilgrimage, and even though our exhibit is a little bit tired and old and needs investment, they all feel the power of being in that room,” said Heath. The Pankhurst Centre has been unable to accept donations of key artefacts in the suffragette story because they cannot afford the insurance to look after them.

Helen Pankhurst at the Pankhurst Centre, the family home of her great-grandmother, Emmeline Pankhurst.
 Helen Pankhurst at the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester, the family home of her great-grandmother, Emmeline Pankhurst. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Though it is a Grade II listed building, the Pankhurst Centre is hemmed in on all sides by new wings of the St Mary’s hospital, making expansion more complicated. “We use every available space,” said Heath. “We will be digging out part of the cellar, because it’s full of rubble. We’re going to extend out there with a subterranean room to expand it. We are going to put corridors along the back, so you don’t have to cross space.”

A few days later it was announced that the government would help to fund a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in the city of her birth, the first of a woman to be erected in Manchester since a Queen Victoria statue was unveiled in 1901. “This is 100 years late, but still a very important and appreciated recognition by the establishment,” said Pankhurst.

“I think that in terms of the attitude of society in general, there’s a realisation now that you can’t assume that things are going to continue to get better in terms of women’s rights,” she said. “The last couple of years in particular have taught us that we have got to fight to hold on to the gains that we have made.”


Manchester Community Central

Coming up in 2018…

2 Jan 2018 – 10:42 by Mike Wild

I’m writing this in the final days of 2017 and a list of things which will affect charities, community groups, voluntary organisations and social enterprises even just within Manchester is something you can never actually finish writing (note to self: write more blogs this year) but here are the things which are swishing around in my head as things to think about for 2018.

Starting with a few things at national level, Office for Civil Society will start consultation on a new Civil Society Strategy. The Conservative-led governments since 2010 have sometimes appeared hostile to the things our sector says and does despite various themes such as the “Big Society” or the “Shared Society”. With a new Minister for Civil Society based in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport there’s an opportunity for a new conversation about the role of our sector in shaping places that people live in, not just an abstract national strategy. Often, this kind of strategy ends up being completely disconnected from the day to day work of a community group in Newton Heath or Baguley. Maybe, we can change that this time? (That’s me trying to start the new year with a bit of optimism).
Maybe it will even include an impact assessment of how the sector will be affected by Brexit? (That’s me starting the new year being totally unrealistic!)

Welfare Reform: the rollout of Universal Credit is going to continue to put pressure on local support organisations such as advice organisations, foodbanks and family services. We need to keep campaigning and sharing stories of the impact this is having on people’s lives. That’s partly about challenging the media stories of “benefit scroungers” which have created a whole set of urban myths and prejudices. It’s also about identifying where there are possible legal challenges to this system. Greater Manchester Law Centre is going to be looking to take up test cases which will help challenge the unfair and inflexible aspects of the system through the courts. The Public Law Project recently secured a major victory when it supported a case which went to the High Court and resulted in a judgement which found that part of the rules governing Personal Independence Payments are unlawful and discriminate against people with mental health difficulties. It’s important that our sector keeps making these sorts of challenges. Providing day to day support is part of our job, so is improving the system.

The Greater Manchester Devolution experiment will roll on. I hope it will gain a fresh sense of ambition next year. There’s a danger of becoming less daring as time passes: risk aversion can stifle innovation but only bold solutions will work on things like housing, planning, inclusive growth and so on. We know Transport is going to be one of Andy Burnham’s big themes next year so expect lots of attention around buses, cycling and, if there’s any justice, some serious rethinking of Manchester’s messy very attempt to develop an equivalent of the London Oyster Card. We’ll have to make sure this is an inclusive conversation which brings in seldom heard voices as transport barriers are often at the root of other issues such as social isolation, access to employment, exclusion of people with physical and learning disabilities, etc.
Homelessness will continue to be a highly visible issue, politically and practically. There is a good broad conversation going on about emergency support and getting people off the streets but it will need to get into the harder subject of ongoing support for people with complex needs, collaboration between agencies and some honest discussions about economic priorities.

I will be hoping to see plenty of discussion about how the GM Mayor’s Accord with the VCSE sector is to be implemented. For me, it’s these conversations which are the important bit as the build collaboration and understanding of why it’s important and how it can practically be done. Very easy to write a document and get it signed off. Who remembers the Compact?

There’s no sign of the Government doing anything to tackle the financial pressures faced by Local Authorities and with the national political agenda hypnotised by the fast approaching headlights of Brexit, that’s unlikely to shift any time soon. Manchester still faces these pressures but there are positive signs that at least the Our Manchester approach to collaboration, strategy and community involvement is taking root. As with all these things, some of it ends up being a bit lost in translation but the principles at the heart of it are good and we have a great example of jointly designing and implementing a programme in the shape of the Our Manchester VCS Grants Fund. Hopefully something to build on during the year.

Ofsted has announced that Manchester Children’s Services are no longer inadequate but there is still a lot of work to do to get to a rating of Good on all services. Child protection, Looked After Children and support for care leavers are all still assessed as “requires improvement”. We’ll need to consider what our organisations – whether focused on children, young people and families or other groups – can do to engage with children and young people in or leaving the care system.

The Children and Social Work Act went onto the statute books as of April 2017. This new legislation allows local areas to determine their own arrangements for Safeguarding Children – effectively ending the requirement for a Local Safeguarding Children Board – and focuses on the combined duty of the Local Authority, the Police and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to safeguard children. It will change the way Serious Case Reviews are conducted, with some being taken up by a new national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel though it is still unclear what form new reports will take. The recognition that the current system is too complex and never had enough resources is welcome but it still leaves our sector with a question: with so many groups operating informally and with limited resources, where is the capacity and support to embed good practice?

Remember also there are Local Elections in May. It’s a good time to be talking to candidates about local issues.

Health and Social Care is an entire briefing in itself! So here is a quick race through some things to watch out for over the coming year:

The Manchester Local Care Organisation doesn’t have a snazzy name yet (Local McCareface?) but it will come into existence from 1st April 2018. And it will take on responsibility for a lot of health and social care services. As I write this, I’m not entirely clear which ones. After a year of conversations and meetings I also don’t have a great deal of insight to offer on how it’s going to work with the VCSE sector. I’m sure the intention is there but there is still a very long way to go.

With Social Prescribing getting a lot of attention at Greater Manchester level but still no overall agreement on what a good model looks like – and, for me, still a lack of recognition that it’s not just about GP’s prescribing voluntary sector stuff, it’s the whole design and system of our sector working with public services. Manchester will roll out the Community Links for Health model to south and central Manchester early in the new year through a tender process. Keep in touch with us if you want news of the turnaround will no doubt be quite fast.

Nationally and locally social care is under pressure but Manchester particularly needs to find new ways of organising care at home and residential care, something picked up in the recent Care Quality Commission report. I think there is room to develop local social enterprises and co-operatives to provide home care, including within particular communities of identity but it’s hard to see where the investment in that could come from as it’s quite a risk to enter a ‘market’ like this when costs are rising and the only sizeable customer (the Council) has less and less money to spend. And of course pressures on the NHS continue. I recently heard someone say that in NHS terms ‘winter’ now lasts for 12 months of the year. We’ll be starting the conversation in January about how the VCSE sector and hospitals can work together.

So, as I did last this time last year, I’m going to leave you with a quotation which sits on my office wall.

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centred men have torn down, men other-centred can build up.”
Dr. Martin Luther King

On the bright side, I’m looking forward to seeing Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor. It’s about time.

Michael Gove launches new draft Bill to increase max sentences for extreme animal cruelty in England from 6 months to 5 years.

Report by Battersea Dogs Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
In a visit to Battersea Dogs Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Environment Secretary Michael Gove has launched a new draft Bill to increase maximum sentences for extreme animal cruelty in England from just six months to five years. 
 The move underlines the Westminster Government’s determination to address the growing problem of animal cruelty. New legislation would enable Courts to hand out tougher sentences and thus help protect thousands of innocent animals from suffering unspeakable acts of cruelty.
The Government’s announcement has been warmly welcomed by Battersea’s Chief Executive Claire Horton:
“Battersea is greatly encouraged by the Government’s willingness to see sentences for the most shocking cases of animal cruelty increase from six months to five years and today’s DEFRA announcement takes a significant step in that direction.
“Battersea is very much at the front line of animal welfare and it’s deeply distressing to see truly shocking cases of animal cruelty and neglect come through our doors.”
Battersea showed the Secretary of State how they operate at the forefront of dog and cat welfare, taking in around 7,000 animals every year, including many that have suffered serious cruelty or neglect.
During his visit, Mr Gove saw a stray dog being cared for by Battersea staff that was still cowering in a kennel, traumatised by the abuse it had suffered in South London.
Stray Staffie Justine may have had acid thrown over her back and Battersea’s vets and experienced dog behaviourists are pulling out all the stops to help her survive. Claire Horton added:
“It’s to help dogs like Justine that Battersea is so passionate about seeing five year sentences introduced. No animal deserves to be suffering such pain. Justine is now frightened of everyone and everything.”
“The current maximum animal cruelty sentence of six months in England and Wales is neither a punishment nor a deterrent but Battersea believes today’s publication of a draft Bill could help to achieve both, and bring about some form of justice for dogs like Justine.”

Last few days to take part in the EU consultation on banning ivory

In Fighting Illegal Ivory, EU Lags Behind

 The European Union is the largest exporter of legal ivory, leading to concern that it’s fueling a parallel illegal trade—and the slaughter of elephants.


Wildlife advocates are pushing for the EU to shut down its ivory trade, which contributes to the slaughter of some 30,000 African elephants a year.

While China and the United States have taken steps in recent months to shut down their ivory markets, conservationists say that the European Union has been dragging its feet.

“The global shift against the trade is evident, and the EU’s failure to put its own house in order will place it in an increasingly isolated position,” says Sally Case of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, a British charity that provides funding and research support for international endangered wildlife projects.

On Monday the EU Environment Council—the environment ministers of the 28 member states—will meet in Luxembourg to consider new ivory trade controls.

Global demand for ivory remains high. Legal ivory exports from the EU, especially to China and Hong Kong, as well as trade among member states, likely fuel demand and facilitate laundering of poached ivory into the trade system.

Ivory trafficking by criminal syndicates causes the poaching deaths of some 30,000 African elephants a year.

The EU is the world’s largest exporter of pre-convention ivory—ivory acquired before the creation, in 1976, of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the body that regulates wildlife trade. In that year the African elephant was listed as at risk, and restrictions on trade in ivory came into effect.

Many Europeans in countries such as Belgium, which had African colonies, have been selling off ivory pieces they inherited in the years since nations won their independence. During the past decade EU countries legally exported more than 20,000 carvings and 564 tusks, according to CITES, and the numbers have been going up. By contrast fewer than a thousand carvings and a single tusk have been exported from the U.S. during that time.

According to an EU report, between 2003 and 2014, 92 percent of EU exports of pre-convention tusks went to China or Hong Kong. The increasing volume of ivory shipped to Asia has led to concerns that the legal trade is spurring demand for ivory, both legal and illegal, and exacerbating elephant poaching.


This 11th-century carved tusk, decorated with gold-plated metal, is on display in a museum in Florence, Italy.

But Enrico Brivia—spokesperson for the EU’s Commission of the Environment, Maritime Affairs, and Fisheries—disagrees. He contends that, “In the European Union the domestic trade in pre-convention ivory is strictly regulated. There is no evidence that this domestic market has been used as a cover for illegal ivory,” he says.

The CITES wildlife trade database, however, shows that China’s and Hong Kong’s ivory imports exceed that accounted for by the number of EU export certificates.

A 2014 report on EU ivory exports notes that, “There are undoubtedly cases of fraudulent EU documents in circulation, and it is possible that falsified or forged internal EU trade certificates are being used as a basis for re-export certificate applications.”

According to the report, such certificates are used as a loophole to launder pre-convention ivory into the illegal market—a relatively easy thing to do in the EU, whose member countries are borderless when it comes to trade and where there are inconsistences in the administration of ivory export permits.

An EU document issued in February 2016 states that, “Between 2011 and 2014, EU Member States reported seizures of around 4500 ivory items reported as specimens and an additional 780 kg as reported by weight. Most was destined for Asia, particularly China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.” The report notes that “it is often difficult to distinguish pre-Convention or worked specimens, which can be legally re-exported from the EU, from other ivory items, for which such export is banned.” It points out there are many cases of buyers purchasing ivory using forged pre-convention certificates with the intention of exporting them illegally to Asia.

“When it comes to ivory policy,” says Rob Hepworth, senior advisor for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and a former CITES official, “the EU is weaker as a collective entity than as individual parties.” CITES’s policies, he says, apply to individual nations, not massive trading blocs that set their own rules for internal trade.

“The current CITES resolution addressing trade in elephant ivory does not require prohibition of domestic trade,” says CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon, who adds that even though “the EU, and many of its member states, have provided great support in combating the illegal wildlife trade financially, politically and technically, measures taken in the EU are only as strong as the weakest link.”


Along with the U.S. and China, in April 27 African elephant range countries that are part of the African Elephant Coalition submitted five complementary proposals to CITES to protect elephants, including the closing down of all domestic ivory markets.

“African countries are blazing a trail to shut down the global ivory market,” says Vera Weber, president of the Swiss-based Fondation Franz Weber, a partner organization of the African Elephant Coalition. “The EU needs to support their initiative and demonstrate its commitment to the world by shutting down its own market.”

Unlike Belgium, some EU nations—the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden, and the U.K.—have stopped issuing ivory export certificates and have called on Brussels to make this an EU-wide policy.

“The fact that some member states are stronger and more committed to the international law as individual nations makes a mockery of the EU,” says Stella Reynolds, an international lawyer based in France. According to Reynolds, the European Union was created “to target global industry to ensure future peace and an absence of conflict. So it’s incredible,” she says, “that the EU is hiding from its responsibility in this modern-day global ivory conflict.”

“The EU must walk the talk and abolish ivory trade once and for all,” says Daniela Freyer of Pro Wildlife, a Germany-based advocacy group specializing in regional and international wildlife regulations, in a press release. “EU ministers must demonstrate leadership to secure the survival of elephants.”

Read more stories about wildlife crime and exploitation on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to

Adam Cruise is a journalist and author specializing in wildlife, and frequently contributes to National Geographic.

In a world of 7 billion people how can we protect wildlife?

Please Take part in the UK government and EU consultations on banning the ivory trade! Every day we don’t act means there are hundreds less elephants left in the world.

One day we might wake up and realise that while we have been ignoring the issue the world’s population of elephants has become extinct.

John Scanlon, 2016

There is a growing need for a more long-term approach to elephant conservation, one which establishes buffer and cross-border zones, links up protected and already established areas, involves and supports key stakeholders, and leads to the creation of a network of corridors and destinations large enough to support resident and migratory populations.

Initiatives are gathering pace throughout wild Africa. One excellent example is the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) in the North Eastern Province, where a switched-on NGO is empowering local communities, linking conservancies and recreating a wonderful north Kenyan wilderness. An equally fine example is Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza) which, with the help of the Peace Parks Foundation, has negotiated a free-to-range mandate for wildlife from five southern African countries, covering 520,000 square kilometres and linking 36 protected areas.

Both NRT and Kaza are subtle, nuanced and highly complex arrangements between multiple and, sometimes, competing stakeholders. The task of protecting wild African elephants is not simply seen as a moral obligation but as a significant wealth generator – something which is key to the strategy.

A dead adult elephant is worth around $21,000 (£17,000) in ivory sales. A live one is worth $1.6m (£1.3m) in tourist income. Proposing that the 11-year moratorium on ivory sales be lifted and the proceeds from confiscated stock sales be reinvested in local communities – as Namibia and Zimbabwe did at Cites (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) this year – therefore makes little sense. The return on ivory sales pales in comparison to the financial rewards generated by mixed land-use conservation strategies. The eco-tourist industry, which is driven and grown by elephants, is more than capable of compensating for land lost to migratory corridors.

What’s good for the elephant is good for the ecosystem as a whole, which is why countries like Zimbabwe and Namibia – both, incidentally, key players in the Kaza initiative – must be persuaded of the folly of ivory stock sales. It would send the wrong message to the world and, as previous one-off sales have shown, result in a rise in killings by poaching.