Festival of Debate

Festival of Debate is one of the platforms we Sheffielders are very proud of – it encourages discussion, urges us all to be more active citizens, and really makes us think outside of the box.
Logo: Festival of debate

This year Healthwatch Sheffield got involved and hosted some events for the first time – and it was an amazing experience!

We ran three events – a workshop on Disability and Democracy in Healthcare; a debate on the Future of Public Health; and a conversation with Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism & Future of Neurodiversity.

I went along to the Future of Public Health debate, where our Chair Judy Robinson led the conversation with Greg Fell (Director for Public Health), Jackie Drayton (Cabinet Member for Children and Families, and Burngreave MP), and Professors Liddy Goyder and Alan Walker (University of Sheffield).

After each speaker had chance to share their initial stances, Judy Robinson opened the debate and invited members of the audience to ask questions. Public Health is such a huge topic, ranging from legal interventions like smoking bans and seatbelt usage, to environmental policies, education policies around healthy lifestyles, and more, so this meant lots of interesting conversations and points of view – I was awed by the range of things people asked about and the experiences they shared, many of which I hadn’t considered before. What was most heartening, though, was seeing the range of people in the audience – people who work in health and social care like doctors and social workers, but also teachers, students, and lots of Sheffield’s citizens wanting to share their own thoughts about what public health meant to them and the direction they’d like to see it move in.

On the face of it, the events we ran were very different. They followed different formats and focused on different topics, but they shared some of our core values: connecting people with decision-makers, and giving people a voice to share what matters to them. This is what the Festival of Debate is about for me – a forum where members of the public can sit alongside local decision-makers, and share their own thoughts on an equal footing.

It was a great first year and we’ll definitely be getting involved again!

Useful links:

https://www.festivalofdebate.com/

https://twitter.com/HWSheffield/status/1132293147818643457 Our thread about the Steve Silberman conversation.

You can also search the hashtag #FoDNeurotribes – an amazing attendee live tweeted the event for others who couldn’t be there.

https://twitter.com/HWSheffield/status/1128349196862488582 Our live thread about the Future of Public Health debate

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