Announcing Beth Knowles as With One Voice Chair

We’re delighted to announce Beth Knowles as the Chair of With One Voice.

After a degree in human geography, Beth worked for in international development for a variety of NGOs and trade unions including Oxfam, the British Red Cross and UNISON. She became Councillor for Manchester city centre in May 2014, focusing on issues surrounding homelessness, arts and culture, and improving public realm within the city.

Beth describes her involvement in With One Voice:

‘I have been involved in With One Voice for nearly a year through participation in the November 2015 Brazilian exchange visit and subsequent work to develop the Manchester Homelessness Charter. I’m also currently in the USA researching arts and homelessness work on behalf of With One Voice. I have therefore seen first-hand the power of sharing best practice internationally – from taking the great work of the Homeless People’s Movement in Brazil back to Manchester to being inspired by visionary council officials in São Paulo and putting this in to action.

‘The exchange to Brazil was a pivotal moment in my life and career, as my interest and experience in both social movements and the arts gained a clear use. My life is built around an understanding that I am in a political position primarily to work with people who have been ostracised and had their voice removed or disenfranchised. I believe this has never been more the case than with people who have experienced homelessness.

‘Cities are on desperate drives to regenerate themselves and push existing populations further away – especially those with negative stereotypes attached to them. I was unable to stand by while this happened in Manchester and have worked with homeless organisations, businesses, individuals, the faith sector and the council to come to a common solution over the past two years. My hope is to bring this political perspective and understanding to With One Voice, enabling the group to affect long-lasting change built from the people who really need to see it happen.

‘I believe there has never been a greater opportunity to utilise the arts to enable people to find and develop their own voice in the most effective (and beautiful) way possible – whether this is through projects showing the true identity of an individual and breaking down perceptions or initiatives where people are encouraged to build themselves into the person they know they are.

‘Developing an international movement to share best practice and inspire further change within homelessness and the arts has great potential. I recognised this in Brazil and have since seen opportunities everywhere from Sweden to Seattle. I’m thrilled to be Chair of With One Voice and look forward to shaping With One Voice into a movement that goes beyond sharing best practice and spreads sustainable change throughout the world.’

Photo: Beth Knowles with delegates from Brazil at the Booth Centre, Manchester (April 2015). Credit: Matt Priestley