Speakers’ Corner Trust is a registered charity established in 2007 to promote free expression, public debate and active citizenship as a means of revitalising civil society in the UK and supporting its development in emerging democracies. It has a distinguished advisory council, chaired by the Justice Secretary Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, which includes representatives of the three main political parties, the universities, the law, business, the media and the voluntary sector. SCT’s patron is the playwright, human rights campaigner and former Czech President Václav Havel.
SCT’s approach is based on the belief that association between citizens and the free, face-to-face exchange of ideas, information and opinions – with each other as well as with the decision-takers among them – is a key to rebuilding trust and participation in Britain’s civil society and developing vibrant civil institutions and robust rights in emerging democracies.
SCT pursues its aims by forming local Speakers’ Corner Committees made up of representatives of the public, private and voluntary sectors which ‘own’ and steer projects designed to stimulate and support public discussion and debate.
Where appropriate – for example in major towns and cities – the committees’ work may include establishing new Speakers’ Corners in public spaces as symbols of citizens’ rights, focuses for civic identity and platforms for public engagement.
But at the heart of each initiative lies a programme of events designed by the local committee to reach every community in its area. They could include debates led by local interest groups, consultations mounted by public services or local politicians or discussions stimulated by academics or others on subjects from the global to the local to the cultural.
The central principle in all these events is that they should be accessible to all, strictly non-partisan and non-adversarial, welcome diversity and seek to inform opinion, identify common ground – and, as often as possible, entertain.
Find out more at www.speakerscornertrust.org