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Here are some of our recent events:

Tuesday June 6th 2023 ‘Defending the right to seek asylum in the UK’. A talk by Mary Brandon, Campaigns Manager for Yorkshire and Humberside Asylum Matters.

Join us for a talk to discuss the current situation for people seeking sanctuary in the UK, tracing the history of asylum in the UK and examining the impacts of the Government's host of new "anti-refugee laws", including the proposed Illegal Migration Bill currently making its way through Parliament. We will also look at how communities across the UK are fighting back against these laws to defend the right to seek safety, and the right to offer it, both in the UK and internationally. 

Click here to download a copy of Mary's presentation slides.

About Mary

Mary Brandon joined Asylum Matters as Campaigns Manager for Yorkshire & Humberside in June 2018. With Asylum Matters, she has co-led the Lift the Ban campaign for the right to work, as well as being part of many other campaigns for asylum rights and protections. Before Asylum Matters, she worked as an Adviser & ESOL tutor at RETAS Leeds and also in mental health. She has been involved in her local City of Sanctuary group since 2015. In her spare time Mary is a proud trustee for Mafwa, a community theatre company based in Leeds.

The information about the Fight the Anti Refugee Laws campaign is available by clicking

And here are some  further reading references


Useful further reading and briefings:


  • The Law Society: briefing on legal implications of the Illegal Migration Bill:


  • Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID): briefing on detention measures within the Illegal Migration Bill:


  • Explainer on modern slavery clauses in Illegal Migration Bill:


  • Briefing on implications for women of Illegal Migration Bill:'Illegal%20Migration,limit%20on%20the%20detention%20ofI


  • International law: record of UNHCR concerns raised over the Bill:,Bill%20with%20the%20UK%20Government


  • Joint briefing on constitutional implications:


  • Article by Rainbow Migration on implications for LGBTQ+ community:

Tuesday July 4th 2023 'Talks by Café members'. 

We had the following three interesting talks:

‘Art and Class: How the middle classes hijacked the nation’s galleries’ by David Kennedy.

In the Victorian era the nation’s galleries were packed with working class visitors. Today less than eight per cent of visitors are from the working classes. What was once “art for the many not the few” has become “from the many to the few.” The working classes now subsidise the middle classes through entrance charges, membership schemes, tax deductions and a range of curatorial policies which deny the working classes access to our galleries.

The talk will expose how the working classes are not only paying for the cultural activities of the middle classes but in being denied access to art their children are being denied cultural capital which is a crucial aspect of out our increasingly unequal society.

Knowledge of art and music, which middle-class children acquire through visits to galleries and concerts , is a crucial component of cultural capital which working -class parents cannot afford. This precious commodity opens the door to pupils who score highly on cultural capital and go on to the elite universities.

I argue that everyone should have access to the nation's art , but this will only be achieved if the boards of today's galleries represent all classes and develop inclusive charging and curatorial policies.

"Common Security and the Olof Palme International Peace Center in Stockholm" by Michael McGowan.

I have recently visited the Center in Stockholm which was established in 1992. When Olof Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden, was murdered in February 1986  it was a great loss to the international community. He was a key figure during the Cold War, highly critical of both the United States and the Soviet Union, active in seeking peace and co-operation in South Africa and the Middle East, and promoted the concept of Common Security.     

Olof Palme rejected the idea that security is dependent on military strength. He was  appointed Chair of the UN Commission of Common Security  pointing out rthat climate change, the warming of the planet,  extreme poverty, inequality, terrorism; lack of empowerment of women  - all put life on earth at risk. . 

In Leeds we decided to launch an annual leacture in honour of the life and work of Olof Palme with support from Leeds City Council, the universities, and the the peace movement across the city. Lecturers included Liz Palme the widow of Olof Palm who came to Leeds from Sweden, John Hume from Northern Ireland, US Senator George Mitchel  and Caroline Lucas  MP of the Green Party. 

Olof Palme visited Leeds University as a student politician and last year the lecture was by Anna Sundstrom , Secretary General of the Palme Centre in Stockholm.

50 Ideas For The North - by Patrick Hurley and Tris Brown.

Based on a book which the presenters have recently had published, Patrick and Tris wanted to find out what social innovation ideas the people of the north of England would like to see in their communities. So they did a radical thing - they went and asked them!!! Over the course of 18 months or so, they ran workshops every few weeks in another town or city in the north, and asked for ideas to improve their local area. We collated and wrote up the 50 ideas that appealed the most and put them in a book. This talk will summarise the story of the project and a run-through of some of the most eye-catching ideas.

Tuesday October 3rd 2023: ‘The challenge of decoupling energy use from GDP: recent findings and implications for meeting the Paris Agreement targets’. A talk by Dr Paul Brockway, from the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds. 


To meet our Paris / climate change targets, energy models assume a key role for energy efficiency to reduce energy use, in combination with a huge deployment of renewables. But is this blind faith in energy efficiency merited? I examine historical global trends, and find there has been no global historical absolute energy-GDP decoupling, and yet this is a key assumption in the models. So, what is causing the disconnect between past and future assumed energy-GDP trends? I explore the evidence for large economy-wide rebound as a plausible explanation, and find compelling support for this hypothesis. It also confirms an underrecognised role for energy efficiency in enabling economic growth. So what can we do? I close by considering what we can do in response, covering modelling and policy actions.

About Paul Brockway


Dr Paul Brockway is an Associate Professor in Energy and Economics at the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, UK. He has a 5 year research fellowship on the topic ‘Applying thermodynamic laws to the energy-GDP decoupling problem’, where he applies an Exergy Economics approach to study thermodynamic energy conversion within energy-economy modelling frameworks.


Tuesday November 7th 2023: ‘“A Local GP and his experience of the NHS”, Dr Matt. Barton, GP Partner in Bramley.’

The powerpoint slides of Dr Barton's talks is available here.


Matt will discuss (among other things) the state of the nation's health, the importance of Primary vs Secondary care, future positive change for the NHS.


About Dr Matt Barton


I am GP Partner in Bramley, West Leeds and have been working there for the last 10 years. I grew up in Lancashire from a family of police officers, teachers and farmers; and went to school in Blackpool. I initially read Chemistry at University of Sheffield which involved a year working for Ineos in Cheshire. I then moved to Leeds to read medicine in 2003 and have lived here ever since. I initially was training in Orthopaedics before realising I preferred a more general career and moved into General practice. I specialise in holistic medicine, Safeguarding and General practice training. Out of work I have 2 young children who are schooled in Headingley, we enjoy camping in the UK, I am a member of Hyde Park Harriers and currently training to be a run leader. 

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