About Sapphormation

Manchester’s festival for women who love women is back for another weekend of feminist fun and laughter on 3rd November 2018

We are approaching the centenary of the end of the First World War and of the first time that some women were allowed to vote in elections in Britain. Here, Kate Cook reflects on the women-loving work of the suffragettes, who were truly “against the grain”. The 11th November 1918 was the day that the armistice was signed, at the end of the First World War. Before the war had begun, Britain had fought an internal battle, against women who wanted to vote. The suffragettes, led by the Manchester-based “Women’s Social and Political Union” had undertaken direct action, in a wide number of ways, to publicise their claim for the right to vote in elections. At the outbreak of war the women had suspended their lawbreaking, however there was an awareness that they might start up again, if the war was ended and they were not given the vote.

In 1917, a hundred years ago today a bill to change the voting rights of men and women was being debated in parliament. This bill became the Representation of the People Act 1918 and extended the vote to men over 21 and to women over 30 (who also had certain property qualifications).

This change meant that women could move on to campaign on other issues, including struggling to join parliament, as they were also now eligible to stand for election. Christabel Pankhurst, the daughter of suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, stood in the general election of 1918 but was not elected. Locally, Emmeline Pethwick-Lawrence was also defeated but stood for Labour in Rusholme and polled 2,985 votes.

With a packed programme of activities, events and food this year’s theme of ‘against the grain’ is sure to please and provoke! Keep up-to- date with announcements on facebook, twitter or our website.

Info@sapphormation.com // twitter.com/sapphormation // www.sapphormation.com // www.facebook.com/groups/154043768067003/


Our Partners and Funders


Our organisers

Sally Carr

Sally Carr MBE has been working as a youth and community worker with LGBT young people for over 30 years. She is dedicated to ensuring lesbian, bisexual and pansexual young women’s voices and ideas are constantly informing the direction of her work as these are so often seldom heard voices.

Ali Hanbury

Ali is a youth and community worker and has been organising community events for several years including Queer Boots, Feminist Movie Mondays, Sapphormation Festival, Feed Your Head and Levenshulme Pride. She works for The Proud Trust and manages the LGBT+ Centre in Manchester. As a working-class, Welsh lesbian she is proud to have gained a PhD in women’s studies from Lancaster University and uses her charity work and academic insight to get stuff done.

Hebe Phillips

Hebe is an lesbian artist + feminist youth worker from Manchester and co-founder/volunteer zlibrarian at Manchester LGBT Zine Library. Interested in how art brings people, women in particular together and allowed them to tell stories.  Lover of cats, bumbags and being in the green. Collects purple flowers in her spare time.

Ali Ronan

Ali has re-invented herself from youth worker to feminist historian. She has a background in arts based community work and conflict resolution. She is currently Chair of the Proud Trust and a founder member of Feminist Webs. Her motto at the moment is ‘No need to hurry’.

Erinma Ochu

Erinma is a media maker and lecturer at Salford University. She trained originally as a neuroscientist before turning to storytelling and filmmaking, working in broadcast TV and film. She has curated for independent film festivals including Sheffield Doc/Fest. She is currently developing a media project to unearth hidden pioneers and ideas connecting the US civil rights movement and the birth of the environmental movement. She was recently a Jerwood Fellow attached to Yael Bartana’s Manchester International Festival production ‘What If Women Ruled the World’

more here:  https://about.me/erinmaochu

Claudia Carvell

Claudia runs the lesbian and bi women’s programme at LGBT Foundation in Manchester and organises events for LGBTQ+ women and queer folk with the HER social app. This is Claudia’s second year working on Sapphormation and she is all about creating spaces for queer women in Manchester!

Kate Cook

Kate is a lecturer in law at Manchester Metropolitan University, she is also Head of the Sylvia Pankhurst Gender Research Centre.  Kate has been a feminist activist, working on violence against women and girls for over 25 years.  She lives in Sale with her partner, Annie, and two dogs.spacing (leading), letter-spacing (tracking), and adjusting the space within letters pairs (kerning).

Cathy Todd

Cathy is an Artistic helper who is a deaf female, aged 41 and signs in two languages; English and Irish.

Amelia lee

Amelia has helped with fundraising for the Festival and has been a supporter of the festival since it began. She lives in Manchester with her partner, two dogs and a cat, and is a big fan of lesbian and bisexual women’s fiction in TV, film and in print


Click here to read about why we need sapphormation.
In 2012 our colleagues at The Proud Trust were having lots of conversations about lesbian and bisexual women’s visibility. It was felt that there are few places and spaces where women who are lesbian or bisexual can get together. So we planned to do something about this.

The ‘Gay Scene’ (in urban areas only) is still male-dominated, ‘body beautiful’, anti-intellectual and commercially driven – excluding many women. Those who ‘find each other’, (e.g. online), remain largely in homogenous groups who inhabit domestic spaces to socialise. They are often depoliticised and lacking the connectedness of a ‘community’.

Rarely is there the space and context in the lives of lesbian and bisexual women to explore and reflect on their own lives, and to talk with a wide range of other lesbian and bisexual women. This lack will be addressed in our event the Sapphormation Festival. Women will meet, discuss, debate and participate in fun activities – drawing both strength and action from this. We will have experts and thinkers from communities and Universities – to run lively interactive workshops plus activities, music, discussion and craft from local LGBT and women’s groups to provide a fun range of events, including an interactive panel debate, lampost climbing, drumming, engaging workshops, great food, Rapture (Women’s centered club night) and more.

Why we need sapphormation.

• To combat negative stereotyping
• To raise visibility so lesbian and bisexual women get the chance to see one another across the city
• A chance to get together, come back together or connect –  this event gives us the chance to think and talk outside of the village/ pubs and clubs
• The event is for free, but we can take donations/ do some fundraising to help fund our lesbian and bisexual women’s services
• We can raise the profile of the services we offer
• The things we want to explore are Lesbian Lives, Spaces and Places, Bisexuality and Bi visibility, Multiple Identities (Disability/ Working Class/ Race/ Motherhood in Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Lives- and how these intersect)