Tidal supports activism in Leeds be more effective in achieving social, economic and environmental justice, as part of national and international movements for change.
What we do
We achieve this by providing trainings, events and resources for activists and by facilitating cross-activist group campaigns. You can explore our four key project using the links below.
We are living in a time of contrasts. Never before has there been such wealth alongside such poverty. We have never had as clear an understanding of humanity’s impact on the natural world nor such unabated destruction. We have never been so well connected as in this age of communication and yet isolation and alienation is endemic is our society. But we believe it doesn’t need to be this way, that a more just and sustainable world is possible. We see that the root cause of this injustice and unsustainability is a global economic system that concentrates power and ownership in the hands of the few, and undermines local democratic control.
We need strong and diverse grassroots movements for change that can address these systemic global issues, and this starts at the local level, in our communities, working in solidarity with struggles around the world. We believe that genuine social change that tackles the root causes of injustice, must challenge, rework and reimagine dominant political, economic and cultural power structures in society from the bottom up.
Throughout history, the biggest moments of transformation have occurred when groups and organisations with different tactics and approaches have united to drive forward change on common issues. Leeds is full of groups, campaigns, communities and institutions trying to make change in their own ways; from those building the power and capacity of individuals, to those building alternatives,and those challenging dominant institutions, oppression and injustice. We have been inspired by social theorist, Cindi Katz, who names these three aspects: resilience, reworking and resistance.
The dominant culture of isolation and individualism can confuse us into thinking we are alone in our work, rather than connected to a diverse and complementary network of change-makers around us. To bring about a just and sustainable world, the different elements of our movement; resilience, reworking and resistance, must be supported to reinforce one another. Sustainable and successful movements for change value each of us for our unique role while working strategically, in collaboration and in mutual solidarity with others.
This is why we support social, economic and environmental justice activism in Leeds, in all its different forms. We believe that it's only with connected, effective and massive movements working from all these angles will we build a more just and sustainable world for everyone.
Our strategy 2018-2022
You can read more about our organisational strategy for 2018 - 2022 here.
Meet the team
Our Staff Team and Associates look after our day-to-day activities, while the Directors on our Board meet around 8 times per year to oversee our strategy and make sure we’re operating effectively and within the law.
Our Staff Team currently includes:
Our Team of Associates currently includes:
Our Board of Directors currently includes:
Join the team
We don't currently have specific opportunities open but do get in touch to say hello if you have a proposal for us to consider. We'll publish more information soon about how you can get involved as an Associate.
...17 years of supporting activism in Leeds for a more just and sustainable world.
On the 9th of March at Notre Dame College in Leeds, we held a community festival of resistance that brought together 350 people & change-makers from around Leeds & Yorkshire. Some of the highlights included thought-provoking panel discussions on Leeds Radical History, Decolonize Now, Creative Resistance, and International Women’s Day. 21 creative & hands-on workshops. Over 30 stalls in the Leeds for Change Marketplace. Three Acres & a Cow – International Womens Day Special. Footprint Workers Co-op Zine Fair. Art exhibition of dissident local artists. Wonderdome Kids Creche. And an evening Bistro with performances hosted by The Sunday Practice, 3 course meal cooked by Rainbow Junk-tion Community Cafe.
In August we dressed in black to commemorate the tragic 350 early deaths per year in Leeds due to air pollution. With a big visual coffin and flowers, we attracted passers by to sign our petition and join us in telling Leeds City Council that we need bold measures and a tougher Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to address illegal levels of NOX in the city in advance of the Council’s final consultation.
In March we bought trainers from the New Economy Organisers Network (NEON) to come and skill us up on how to confidently prepare for and take on a range of interviews, clearly communicate topline messages and begin to shift the debate on the issues we work on. The 20 people who came on the training left with the skills to be able to frame effectively, get coverage, promote our campaigns and communicate our messages clearly and effectively.
In February we teamed up Reboot the Roots to put on a full weekend long training for 20 people on how to use Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to explore and challenge oppression. Theatre of the Oppressed is a range of techniques, games and exercises, developed to support the empowerment and liberation of individuals and their communities. It is a way of analysing and challenging the power dynamics of our society and our personal relationships.
Combined, we had over 50 people attend two activist trainings on Power and Privilege. The first was on Power, Privilege and Anti-Racist Practice with the Racial Justice Network and The Collective Liberation Project. The second was on Gender in Transition, Power & Discrimination with Trans Leeds and Simpson Training. The series aimed to help us understand how identity and oppression intersect, so we build stronger, more inclusive and diverse movements for change that can transform relationships of power that lead to oppression.
Over 80 people attended our second day-long gathering, called ‘Reconnect – Building a Collective Response to Austerity and Division’ in partnership with our friends at The Economic Justice Project. 12 workshops guided us through exploring the impacts of austerity on Jobs, Communities of Colour, Welfare Services, and building skills for change.
We co-created a Leeds People’s Charter to capture our learning, and create a shared resource for us to take forward to our organisations, elected representatives, and build into our own work and communities beyond the event.
This year we moved to Bridge Street Church in Eastgate, which offers us fantastic workshop rooms and a shared office with lots of like-minded community organisations. We’ve been able to use this space to support local campaign groups such as Frack Free Leeds and Friends of the Earth, who hosted their enormous ‘United Against Fracking’ gathering here in the Autumn.
With partners at Leeds Beckett Student Union we put on a day-long gathering for activists, students and community groups called Educate, Agitate, Organise, held on April 29th. Nearly 200 people participated in over 40 workshops, panel discussions and activities, including a topical opening discussion on ‘How to organise against hate and fear’.
Our exciting panel of national campaigners included Nadia Idle from War on Want, Ed Lewis from Global Justice Now, and Tatiana Garavito from Hope Not Hate. As an offshoot event, we also hosted the Leeds premiere of I Am Not Your Negro with a panel discussion with Sai Murray from the Racial Justice Network, and Dr. Shirley Tate professor of Race and Education at Leeds Beckett. The screening sold out all 200 seats in Hyde Park Picture House.
We joined forces with a big coalition of concerned citizens, environmental campaigners, health workers, students and professionals to campaign under the umbrella name Healthy Air Leeds. This was the perfect opportunity to tackle climate change, a key global justice issue, on our own doorstep. We facilitated three meetings with Leeds City Council officers and challenged them rigorously to take a bold approach to addressing illegal levels of NOX in Leeds.
In autumn we ran three events to share campaigning skills in Leeds – a day on Running Great Workshops, an evening on Blogging for Change, and a whole weekend on Creative Activism. This was part of our new 2016-2021 strategy: to run more trainings and social events, to make the global justice movement more fun to be involved in + to build stronger relationships within the movement in Leeds. This would be alongside continuing our core activities of campaigns, gatherings, and the hub website.
We secured funding for the next stage of its development, and recruited two new workers to focus on outreach, governance and usability of the website. Membership got up to 107 groups.
We joined forces with Frack Free Leeds, Greenpeace and others to campaign against the fracked waste water from North Yorkshire, coming to Leeds to be ‘treated’ at Knostrop water treatment plant. The campaign organised public meetings, joined actions and hosted lots of awareness raising stunts on the streets of Leeds, and has plans to grow in the coming years.
In April we held a Summat gathering, partnered with War on Want and the Economic Justice Project. Loads of energy went into organising 25 fantastic workshops, creative sessions, singing, kids space and volunteers at this inspiring gathering. Following the gathering were two workshops on creative activism, called Beautiful Trouble.
In February we helped launch a new network which aims to bring campaigners and professionals together to help Yorkshire achieve a low-carbon future.
November meant that the COP21 climate talks were approaching and we helped form For the Love of Yorkshire to take action together. We helped to bring together over 300 people to join a pilgrimage, service, march and rally in Leeds. The next day we joined others on a coach to London to take part in the biggest climate march in UK history, while other Tidal supporters joined a Climate Peace vigil in Paris to mark the end of a 3-day cycling pilgrimage.
5 years after the Big Conversation, Summer 2015 was also a time for planning. Tidal had come to the end of our five year plan, so we needed to decide what we wanted to focus on for the next five years. We held interviews with key global justice group members, open events for activists, and we put out a mass survey to help us prioritise.
Alongside the Fair Ten Challenge campaign, from March to July we were busy investing in our activist future by running the Spark a Change course with the Economic Justice Project. Over four weekends we shared campaigning skills and demystified economics with over 30 people from a really broad range of backgrounds.
To gear up for general elections, we gathered together representatives from 19 campaigning groups to form the 2015 Fair Ten Challenge. Together we made a list of questions to ask parliamentary candidates chosen by the public. After a big launch (with Hilary Benn + Easter bunny) plus a month full of phoning, meeting and chasing, we finally published the results on the Leeds for Change website so people knew where their candidates stood on the big issues of our time. One week before elections, we rounded off the campaign with a big public debate with representatives from all parties answering the Fair Ten Challenge questions. A really big thank you to all our collaborators and volunteers.
On 8th November 2014 we held a massive 600 person-strong gathering called Summat New. Perhaps you were there? We were delighted to work with the Economic Justice Project on the event, which includes our old friends at Jubilee Debt Campaign.
There were 34 workshops, eight open forum discussions, two speaker panels, 40 stalls, a kids space (Summat Small!), an arts space and a whole evening of food, song, awards and comedy. You may recognise Tidal’s own Mary Keynes winning the Lifetime Achievement Award. It was a truly magical event that brought together activists in Leeds and celebrated all their hard work.
Over 100 groups signed up for the Leeds for Change website, and they all have a profile page, the opportunity to post events and blog articles and share skills through the Skillshare Network, the fruits of Claire’s 2013 research. Claire also ran super-informative social media and facilitation skills workshops.
We sparked the formation of Leeds Community Energy, and supported their first six months to get up and running. As part of this group, we attended conferences and held workshops with Share Energy Cooperative and Sheffield Renewables.
With Green Doctor Training we held a series of coffee mornings in Seacroft to talk about fuel poverty. This sparked great conversations on how to both reduce the environmental and financial impact of bills + went on to inspire some of the people we met to take action in all sorts of ways
A major project of the year was stepping up the hub website project, Leeds for Change. We widened the steering group, did 17 in-depth interviews with potential member organizations, and raised funds to build the website – with £3000 secured by Christmas. We also secured some one-off funding for the wonderful Claire to work one day a week for eight months to build a network for sharing activist skills in Leeds. She got started by meeting with lots of campaigning groups and individual activists, doing a survey of what people want and have, researching and developing ideas of how to share skills online, and ran a brilliant one day skillshare on solidarity activism.
Through lots of outreach we collaborated with five households in East Leeds to show the human side of fuel poverty in a photography exhibition. It linked up the many different issues involved – Big Six profiteering, climate change, health and housing. We toured the photos around different locations and used it in workshops, including at a Welfare Reform conference.
With supporting and connecting the movement in Leeds as our new(ish) mission, we organised our 2012 annual conference to the theme Crisis Opportunity. There was a total of 13 workshops, 22 contributors and 86 participants on the day. A focus of the event was to determine what Leeds wanted to do when the UK hosted the G8 summit in June 2013. With new relationships formed at the event, we formed an action group who collaboratively made plans to campaigning together around the G8.
We joined together with Together for Peace and Taking Soundings to start developing a new ‘hub website’ for activists in Leeds, called Leeds for Change. Its aims would be to link together activist groups, and make it easier for new people to join the fun. Our mapping project from 2012 evolved to be a part of this project.
2012 also saw the launch of Leeds Citizens (previously Leeds Community Organising), a project Tidal has been part of from its inception. Our involvement in the project helped bring global justice issues to new parts of Leeds.
Tidal was one of the partners putting on Leeds Summat in November which attracted around 1000 activists from across the city! We used this to launch our mapping project which we’d been working on with TINWOLF and others to link groups together and provide easier access to public and shared resources.
We held a lobby of Leeds MPs in the our Big Climate Connection in the Spring, then launched Leeds Fuel Poverty Action in the Autumn with 4C, SURE-Energy, Friends of the Earth and lots of other grassroots groups and activists. The campaign had a busy year in 2012, going to London for a national demo, the Big Six Energy Bash, publishing a manual on retrofitting, organising more actions in Leeds, and also mini-conference in September.
We began to create a plan for Tidal and the Leeds global justice movement. Possibly our most significant area of work, the event ‘Tidal’s Big Conversation’ was held in the Autumn to get loads of activists involved in what we need in Leeds to grow and connect the movement, build flourishing groups and engage activists.
In addition, we started to publish regular e-updates to keep Leeds activists connected to one another, and helped local groups work together strategically on the general election with our Fair Ten Challenge.
2009 was also a year of transformations.
Behind the scenes we decided to merge Tidal and Stop Climate Chaos Leeds and changed our name to simply ‘Tidal’ instead of Trade Injustice and Debt Action Leeds. This came alongside the decision to broaden our remit of work to include wider issues of global justice.
By ourselves it would be impossible to achieve the change we wanted in Leeds. But if we enabled activists to work together, to work more effectively, and we helped more people become activists in the first place, then together we might just be able to create the change we need. As a result, in 2010 we gave ourselves a new mission: to coordinate, support and grow global justice activism in Leeds, while campaigning more collaboratively with groups.
As well as supporting the Leeds premier of climate change docu-drama The Age of Stupid and helping run the Engage + Change day of action, we also collaborated with CAFOD, Christian Aid and Leeds Justice and Peace Commission to charter and fill a train with 700 activists to The Wave climate march.
Check out this news clip.
When we heard that Leeds Bradford Airport had submitted proposals to expand its terminal, we responded quickly. With Friends of the Earth, Leeds World Development Movement and dozens of grassroots campaigners we launched the No Leeds Bradford Airport Expansion campaign. Though the expansion itself ultimately went ahead, we won important concessions on curbing the growth of the airport and came within a single vote of total success, an incredible feat given the vested interests we were up against.
Tidal worked to make sure trade and debt issues were not forgotten in Leeds. We had a packed World Debt Week with a publicity stunt, talk by a campaigner from the global south, and took a coachload of people to Journey to Justice, the Jubilee Debt Campaign’s conference on debt relief.
Kicking off with a stunt on the Millennium Square ice rink, Stop Climate Chaos Leeds went on to encourage dozens of responses to the Leeds City Council Climate Change Strategy consultation, hold a fundraising ‘Play in a Day’, host two cafés on climate change, flashmob Briggate with the Leeds Freeze, and cap off the year with taking a coachload of people to the National Climate March in London.
Tidal lobbied a local MEP to support Christian Aid’s Cut the Carbon campaign, and once again held Cloth 07, a Fairtrade fashion show. Stop Climate Chaos Leeds became increasingly active, organising a vigil on Briggate, holding a fundraising gig at the Brudenell Social Club, and even finding funding for a one day a week member of staff.
Increasingly energy was being poured into tackling an up and coming development issue; climate change. Keen to broaden our knowledge, we invited the Director of the newly formed Stop Climate Chaos Coalition to come up to Leeds and talk to us about the links between poverty and climate change. Inspired by what we heard, we founded Stop Climate Chaos Leeds, and that year held a public meeting on the issue, and took 40 campaigners to November’s “I Count” rally in London.
2005 was the year of Make Poverty History. An exciting and exhausting year for development campaigners, Tidal led the charge in promoting the campaign in Leeds.
Events organised ranged from lobbying Hilary Benn in February, a Fairtrade Fun Day at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the ‘Stay Up for Trade Justice‘ vigil in Holy Trinity Church, to a winter vigil outside the hotel housing the EU’s Development Ministers. The centerpiece of the year was a massive solidarity march in Edinburgh, which we organized transport for over 1,500 people from Leeds to support.
This was by no means a quiet year – we organised a Fairtrade Fiesta at the Civic Hall, a meeting on the Tobin Tax, a World Debt Day penalty shoot-out stunt, lobbied Hilary Benn and held Cloth, a Fairtrade fashion show – yet it seemed tame in comparison with the following one…
Starting by asking our supporters to send a tear-off slip included in the Tidal newsletter to their councilors, campaigners lobbied the council hard to adopt the new standard. Less than a year after the campaign had been launched, Leeds was declared a Fairtrade City on the 5th March 2004. At the time the award made Leeds the largest Fairtrade City in the country.
In addition, we had a campaign focus on The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Events included two public meetings on the issue, a street theatre action with the World Development Movement (WDM), and a lobby and publicity stunt with 4 Leeds MPs and a giant set of scales.
Trade Injustice and Debt Action Leeds (what our name stood for back then) was set up in 2002, by union of Leeds Jubilee Debt Campaign, and the Trade Injustice Movement group.
Our fledgling group spent a great deal of time just getting set up as an organisation, but we did find time to squeeze in lobbying the parliament, a benefit concert for the Jubilee Debt Campaign, and a publicity stunt for access to water in Dortmund Square.