Participants 2020

Coming to Notwestminster 2020 or following online at #notwestminster ? Here are just some of the people you can hear from, talk to and collaborate with – not only speakers and workshop hosts, but listeners and doers too…

Jon Alexander

Jon Alexander
New Citizenship Project

Jon Alexander is Co-Founder of the New Citizenship Project, a consultancy founded as a way to bring the skills of the creative industries to bear on inspiring people to claim their agency in society as citizens, instead of just selling stuff to people as consumers. Part thinktank, part consultancy, and still in its early years, the New Citizenship Project has worked with organisations from The Guardian to Coop Group to the National Trust – and is increasingly working with local government.

Jason Leman

Jason Leman
PhD student, University of Sheffield

Jason has an interest in democratic renewal and innovation prompted by the limitations of national party politics. The potential of local party groups to offer an alternative led to his PhD research, informed by the ideas of Flatpack Democracy. He is interested in how these groups might more effectively solve local problems whilst encouraging a more participatory and deliberative democracy. Jason is also active in local politics, being on the steering group of It’s Our City! and former chair of UBI Lab Sheffield.


Joe MitchellJoe Mitchell
Democracy Club

Joe believes in the power of online participation to make democracy better – hence helping to found Democracy Club. He previously worked at Purpose, one of the world’s leading online organising consultancies, on projects relating to global health and the environment. He also has a range of experience across the public and third sectors, including in marketing and communication for the UK Government, and advocacy and research for NGOs such as Transparency International and Global Witness. Along the way he picked up several degrees in law, development and governance.

VaneezaVaneeza Ahsan
Kirklees Youth Councillor & Young Commissioner

“The Kirklees Youth Council has served us well – from giving us bags of skills to the ability of having a ‘voice’. So I feel compelled to offer back some deeper commitment. It’s my upmost privilege to be a young commissioner. I’ve developed an understanding of young, capable, opinionated individuals. I want to represent other young people with their valued views and work towards an enhanced Kirklees Youth Council.”

Heidi MurphyHeidi Murphy BEM
Creative CoLab

Heidi is Creative Director at Creative CoLab and Artistic Producer of Big Dreamers Family Arts Festival. She works to build participatory arts programmes that support young people engaging with their local area. Her practice includes using play and the arts as a means of exploring shared power and creating more meaningful conversation and consultation. She has worked with schools and education providers around the UK, and with organisations including UNESCO, The Church of England, and The RSC. Heidi is currently studying for an MSc in Systems Thinking, focusing on social policy design. She was awarded a British Empire Medal in 2020 for Services to Education.

Kevin DaviesKevin Davies
National Assembly for Wales

Kevin is the current Head of Public Engagement at the National Assembly for Wales. Kevin has worked for the Senedd for 10 years in a variety of roles aimed at engaging public, with a specific focus on involving the public in shaping decisions. His work has recently involved establishing Wales’ first Youth Parliament, the ‘GWLAD’ democracy festival, and the Senedd’s first citizens assembly.


Eva O'Brien

Eva O’Brien

Eva is a Delivery Manager with a decade of experience in delivery management, community engagement, public policy, and technology in Canada and the UK. She has worked with local, regional, and national governments to deliver user-focused products, experiences, and systems. Before joining FutureGov, Eva worked with a small team to design and deliver dozens of citizens’ assemblies and other public engagement experiences focused on healthcare, city councillor compensation, airport growth and smart cities across Canada.

Tom Wastling

Tom Wastling

Tom is a Service Designer at FutureGov, with experience working across inclusive economy and community-led change. He has led on a participatory design projects as well as supporting place-based approaches to health and wellbeing.

Tom has also previously published research on behaviour change and a circular economy.

Kate Grigg

Kate Grigg
Research Officer, Centre for Public Scrutiny

Kate’s current work focuses on transparency, accountability and effective governance in local councils. During her MSc in Urban Studies she explored different city strategies concerning people and places in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid. Her past research has involved investigating ‘big data’ and urban citizenship in ‘smart cities’ and local government democratic innovations in the context of economic and political crises. She has a particular interest in new ways of governing through the lens of the ‘commons’ and how to democratise decision-making and reconstruct governance practices at a local level.

Gerry Proctor

Gerry Proctor
Engage Liverpool

Engage Liverpool was formed about a decade ago to start connecting residents from the apartment developments of the city centre. Gerry Proctor is the current Chair and Founder and Engage has been creating spaces where people can come together to explore progressive experiences of urban living to improve everyone’s quality of life. Our flagship event is the annual autumn seminar series which attracts over 100 people to each of the three seminars.


Catherine HoweCatherine Howe

Catherine is an expert in digital innovation, focusing on the area of digital democracy and social change. She has worked with new collaborative technologies and social networking tools for over 15 years. She is now Director of Design, Delivery and Change at Cancer Research UK where she is responsible for technology strategy and transformation. Her research interests cover digital civic space, citizenship and systems linking and she is both a Trustee of the Centre for Public Scrutiny and a Governor of the Democratic Society.


Sharon DaleSharon Dale

Sharon is a Transformation Lead at dxw and has recently completed a Local Digital Funded Discovery with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council investigating the appetite for using an Income Management System developed and run by a Local Authority. She specialises in capability building, inclusion and team effectiveness. Sharon is a serial volunteer for events such as UKgovcamp, Localgovcamp and OneTeam Government. Her main interest is in creating shared understanding and the conditions for people to work well together.

Perry Walker
Talk Shop 

Perry is one of the founders of Talk Shop. They recently helped 600 people to discuss driverless cars, in 36 events across England, funded by Nesta. Talk Shop have also been getting discussion events going on the funding of adult social care, supported by a Catalyst grant from the Royal Society of Arts. They are very concerned to stimulate dialogue across divides, such as Brexit. See Helping people to find common ground for some of the ideas Talk Shop pursued on this. Perry is a member of Rhizome, a cooperative providing facilitation services, and a Fellow of Involve.

Helen Graham

Helen Graham
University of Leeds & My Future York

Helen teaches heritage studies at the University of Leeds. She has run collaborative research projects asking questions about how to democratise heritage, like: ‘How should decisions about heritage be made?’ This has led to a wider interest in public participation in local democracy and to a long-term collaboration with Phil Bixby in York (My Future York). In collaboration with City of York Council, we have been experimenting with ways of approaching citizen involvement through two large regeneration projects: My Castle Gateway and My York Central… with heritage playing a key role in both!

IanIan Graham

Ian is an experienced facilitator and change leader. He is a specialist in the use of open innovation and collaborative, creative methods to tackle social and city challenges, Ian is an experienced change manager and a qualified coach, enabling people from different backgrounds to work together and effect sustainable change. He has held senior leadership positions in local government as well in the private sector and has worked with a wide range of organisations. Ian now runs VIATIC, a specialist innovation and change agency, based in York and enabling social and city innovation across the UK and Europe. 

Nick BoothNick Booth

Nick has been working as Podnosh with active citizens, community groups, charities large and small plus local government, central government, housing associations, the NHS and police forces since 2005. He helps people to use social and digital media to tell the story of active citizens, strengthen democracy and create civic good.  He started the social media surgery movement and developed the Impact Assessment App, a simple tool for capturing what difference public and third sector service make. Before Podnosh, Nick was a BBC political reporter and documentary maker.

Zarino ZappiaZarino Zappia
Engage Liverpool

Zarino is a trustee at Engage Liverpool CIC, a resident-led social enterprise with the aim of making a place for everyone in a vibrant sustainable Liverpool. When he’s not working on civic engagement in Liverpool, his day job is working as a designer at mySociety, the charity behind sites like TheyWorkForYou, FixMyStreet, and WriteToThem. 

Zarino Zappia


Lewis, Evie and VaneezaKirklees Youth Council

Our youth council helps children and young people in Kirklees to learn about local democracy, to gain skills and confidence, to become active citizens, and to have a voice. We have recently supported a group of Young Commissioners to gather evidence and make recommendations for the future. Over 1,700 children and young people in Kirklees have talked to us about having a voice, getting involved in community life, and how we can help them to grow the skills, confidence and connections that they want, in the way that they want. Find us at: Growing a stronger youth council & Democracy Friendly Schools


De Montfort University politics buildingCourtney, Lewis, Liv, Philippa and Kyra
De Montfort University

Courtney, Lewis, Liv, Philippa and Kyra are Second Year Politics students at De Montfort University (Leicester). They’re currently pursuing studies in comparative local government and are all engaged with the politics of their local community. They’re excited to share their new and innovative ideas, for re-engaging students with local democracy, and becoming part of the #Notwestminster community!’


Notwestminster 2020