A Hull organisation which wants to ‘build a new society’ is starting by inviting everyone to talk about the world they want – over free food, with a creche provided.
Cooperation Hull want to provide an alternative for everyone tired of local and national politics, sick of struggling and fed up of feeling powerless.
There are chances for everyone in the city to come to one of these meetings, with the next one taking place this Saturday (3 February), 1pm-4pm, North Hull Community Centre, 37th Avenue.
Cooperation Hull began in 2023 by bringing ordinary people together to have honest conversations on the biggest topics of the day. Their aim is for these local discussions – called Neighbourhood Assemblies – to replace the two-party political system with true democracy, where everyone gets a say.
A number of Neighbourhood Assemblies and other gatherings have already taken place throughout Hull. A poll asking who is the most useful out of prime minister Rishi Sunak, Labour leader Keir Starmer or a potato has proved popular. If there were an election tomorrow, the potato would walk it.
Everyone who comes to an Assembly has a chance to get to know their neighbours, to answer and ask questions, and try to find points of agreement. Topics have ranged from what divides and unites our society; what are the biggest issues facing us; what can we practically do to make things better.
Adam Hawley, a founding member of Cooperation Hull, said: “An Assembly is a way of ordinary people making decisions, without needing permission from politicians or government. At the moment, big decisions are being made by people like Rishi Sunak, a millionaire, who has no idea what it’s like to worry about where his next meal is coming from. I have a lot more faith in ordinary people – nurses, teachers, parents – and I really believe we’d make better decisions than they do in Westminster if we were given half the chance.
There are so many things that make Hull special, I think we have an opportunity to try something different here. There are countless organisations and mutual aid groups all over the city who are already helping people, without much ‘official’ support. If we work together with them, I think these Assemblies could make a real difference.”
Another member, Jamie Potter, explained the plans the group has: “We’re building towards launching The Hull People’s Assembly this summer – around 200 people getting together to make city-level decisions. The Hull People’s Assembly will be the first of its kind in the UK, and other parts of the country will be taking notice, so we need to make sure we’re ready before we launch.
The Neighbourhood Assemblies have been an opportunity for us to introduce the ideas to people across Hull, and for all of us to practise having tricky conversations. Being able to listen to each other and disagree in a healthy way is something we’re quite rusty at nowadays, but is absolutely crucial to building the strong communities we need in order to fight the cost of living crisis and the climate emergency, and to build a fairer, more kind world.”
Hundreds of people have already come to Assemblies held over the past year, in public spaces including Pearson Park, Lonsdale Community Centre and St Matthew’s Church, Boulevard.
Jamie said feedback from those who turned up made it clear there is a need and a hunger locally for the work Cooperation Hull is doing. An assembly in HU3 has led to further community organising; notably a weekly dinner with entertainment every Tuesday, where everyone is welcome. People can pay an amount of their choosing, or eat for free.
The group is organised, with a growing number of members and a clear forward plan. More assemblies are planned in every postcode, with a series of pop-up events to be held on election day this May. Cooperation Hull is forging strong links with other organisations in the city, and has set up a simple pledge asking people to commit their name and an email address to say they support the idea of a citywide Hull People’s Assembly.
The focus in the coming weeks will be on getting people to assemblies, increasing pledges, fundraising and continuing to build the relationships with other organisations.
To get involved, come along on Saturday 3 February from 1pm-4pm at North Hull Community Centre, 37th Avenue. For more information about Cooperation Hull, and to sign the pledge, visit cooperationhull.co.uk or search ‘cooperation Hull’ on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.