News posted 21 August, 2023

Birthplace of the Suffragette movement hands over ‘Sash’ rent to MFT, in a first after COVID.

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“When a small group of people who share a common goal get together, they can create positive change, even from around a kitchen table, in a place like Manchester. That’s’ a story which continues to this day.” says Gail Heath, CEO of The Pankhurst Trust.

That kitchen table sat within a semi-detached house, which still sits within the largest healthcare and academic campus in Europe, the Oxford Road Campus of the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).

The famous house was the birthplace of the Suffragette movement, which campaigned to win women the same voting rights as men and went on to change history.

Three female leaders of these iconic institutions got together for the ceremonial handover of yearly rent, paid by The Pankhurst Trust to their landlord, in the form of a handmade sash.

This is the first time a ceremony has happened in person since the end of the COVID pandemic.

Chairman of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Kathy Cowell OBE DL, said: “I’m very proud that our Trust is home to The Pankhurst Centre, an institution built by women, for women, which has a tremendous historical legacy and continues vital work today.

“I use the title Chairman with pride, because it relates to the office which I hold and is a very visible demonstration of how we are moving forward towards true equality.

“I’m privileged to be leading an organisation that champions so many inspiring and talented female colleagues, from ward to board, from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, demonstrating positive change in action.

“I’m sure that the Suffragettes would be proud of every one of them, but also urge us all to do even more.”

Number 62 Nelson Street was home to Emmeline Pankhurst and her family, from 1898 to 1906/7.

Alongside the house next door, the buildings form a site which have played host to many different groups over the years, political and non-political. It also became a place of sanctuary for women.

Today The Pankhurst Trust houses a special museum, open to the public and schools, which attracts visitors from all over the world.

There is also a women’s service, which provides advice and support to women and children, who are or have been, experiencing domestic abuse.

Gail Heath, CEO of The Pankhurst Trust said: “Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters set out to change the course of history, all from a small house in radical Manchester, The Pankhurst Centre.

“She would be proud to know that the activism she inspired continues to this day through our heritage and equality work and our mission to end violence against women and girls.”

The Pankhurst Centre has been doing its best to help different generations through the years. But faces unique challenges in terms of the cost of maintaining the buildings, because they are Grade II* Listed.

Gail continues: “The relationship we have with MFT means that together we’re working on a maintenance plan so that we can keep the centre functioning for years to come.  It’s vitally important to preserve it. That’s the exciting bit of our journey now.”

This year’s rent handing over ceremony was more poignant, with a joint visit to Emmeline Pankhurst’s statute, which sits in St. Peter’s Square in Manchester City Centre.

Caroline Roberts-Cherry is Chair of The Pankhurst Trust and said: “It was an honour as Chair of The Pankhurst Trust to hand over our rent, a Suffragette Sash, to our landlord, MFT.

“It’s always inspiring being in the presence of Emmeline’s statute and Kathy and I reflected on her bravery and vision.

“The sash represents an ever-constant call to equality – as women we have come such a long way, but the journey is not yet complete; Emmeline is pointing off into the distance, as that is where we still need to go, ahead to full equality.”