North West Humanist Conference 11-13 October 2013


                                   united on purpose

 What the world most needs at this moment is a means of convincing human beings to embrace the whole of the species as their moral community.   For this we need to develop an utterly non-sectarian way of talking about the full spectrum of human experience and human aspiration.  We need a discourse on ethics and spirituality that is every bit as unconstrained by dogma and cultural prejudice as the discourse of science is.

Sam Harris Killing the Bhudda

The three organisers

The Three Organisers at the Inaugural North West Humanist Conference in 2011

Announcing our Third Annual Regional Conference

organised and promoted by

Lancashire Secular Humanists, Liverpool Humanist Group

and Greater Manchester Humanists

Humanism in Action

Friday 11th October – Sunday 13th October 2013

St Thomas Centre, Ardwick Green North, Manchester M12 6FZ

A few minutes walk south from Manchester Piccadilly station – and with plentiful free on-street parking nearby

There is disabled access throughout the venue and a loop system in the main hall

(The Friday evening film show will be held at The Britons Protection, near the Bridgewater Hall)

 Conference Objectives:

•  To enrich the knowledge and commitment of new and existing members

•  To help participants move forward in living their lives as Humanists

•  To enthuse participants with the message that we have something important and worthwhile to offer the world

•  To help promote knowledge of the value and values of Humanism to the wider community

•  To meet old friends again, and perhaps to make new ones

Notes for participants:

  • Special acoustic boards have been installed in the main hall at the St Thomas Centre which have solved the echo problem we experienced in 2011
  • We encourage you to come to the Friday evening session – a great ice-breaker which will help you get the most out of the conference. The Britons Protection lacks disabled access but is a more suitable venue than the Waldorf, where this session was held in 2011
  • We have opted for facilitated get-togethers for dinner on the Saturday evening, as we cannot hold a conference dinner at the St Thomas Centre.  We will do our best to improve on the 2011 arrangements – more information to follow


North West Humanists are very proud to announce that David Pollock, Trustee of the British Humanist Association, former President of the European Humanist Federation and recipient of the 2011 IHEU Distinguished Service to Humanism Award will be the Key-Note Speaker at our Third Annual Regional Conference on the theme of Humanism in Action in October 2013. This three-day event will be a great opportunity to invite along friends and family who would like to learn more about the positive and optimistic philosophical lifestance which is Humanism.


David Pollock

David has been actively involved in the Humanist movement since 1961 when he joined the Oxford University Humanist Group at a time when it was the largest society in the university and attracted considerable attention in the national press. He went on to serve on the boards of both the British Humanist Association and the Rationalist Association (which publishes New Humanist magazine). He was President of the European Humanist Federation from 2006 to 2012; chaired the Advisory Board  to the European Parliament Platform for Secularism in Politics; and set up the network of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) known as the Alliance for a Secular Europe. He currently represents the International Humanist and Ethical Union at the Council of Europe. He takes a special interest in public policy and campaigning, particularly on the place of religion and belief in society in a context of human rights, equality and non-discrimination. He has written on various aspects of the subject, and has spoken at EU, European Parliament and Council of Europe conferences.

The word “lifestance” was coined in the 1970s by Dr Harry Stopes-Roe of the British Humanist Association. It is equivalent to the German Weltanschauung or “world view”. David Pollock provides a succinct introduction to Humanism as a lifestance in his article Humanism: Beliefs and Values.

Sara Passmore of the BHA

Sara Passmore of the BHA

“What Does The British Humanist Association Do for You?”. Sara Passmore, Head of Education and Promotion at the BHA, will provide some of the answers to this question, and will bring us up-to-date on the most important campaigns the BHA is currently involved in on our behalf.

The BHA campaigns on a wide range of issues including public services, equality law, ethical issues, religion and schools, and social cohesion.

Sara represents the BHA on the National Council of Faiths and Beliefs in Further Education and the Religious Education Council of England and Wales. She is the Vice Chair of Southwark Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. In her spare time Sarah helps run SCI-FI-LONDON, the London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastical Film.

Sara has responsibility for promoting understanding of Humanism, including through an educational setting, and for promoting the BHA to diverse audiences.

The day before battle - Operation Bluecoat, Normandy 29 July 1944

The day before battle – Operation Bluecoat, Normandy 29 July 1944

“There are no atheists in foxholes” is an adage or proverb used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as in war, all people will believe in, or hope for, a higher power. It is simply not true.

The UK Armed Forces Humanist Association (UKAFHA) represets a growing body of servicemen and women, their families, veterans and civilian members of the Ministry of Defence who do not hold religious beliefs, and who share the values of Humanism.

Robin Crosse of the  UKAFHA will provide an introduction to the organisation and its work, and will describe some of the special challenges faced by non-religious members of our armed forces.

The BHA has launched a very positive pilot project to provide emotional and moral support to non-religious prisoners: Humanist Pastoral Support in Prisons.

The project is the inspiration of our speaker and BHA member Amy Walden, a Probation Officer seconded to the Prison Service from Hampshire Probation trust. Amy works at Winchester Prison where over 40% of the prison’s 700 inmates are registered as having no religion.

A Prisoner

A Prisoner

“The Prison Service has an obligation to ask prisoners about their religious beliefs and to provide access to a chaplaincy service and prayer or worship place”, Amy explains.”Chaplains are important when prisoners with religion are going through bad times, such as when a family member or loved-one dies or when their partner or children no longer want anything to do with them. But, there is no equivalent service dedicated to non-religious prisoners. When they need solace, emotional support or moral guidance they are offered the use of chaplains.”

Amy will describe the work she has pioneered with the help of the BHA and member and philosopher Dr Brendan Larvor to introduce a pastoral care service for all non-religious prisoners in Winchester Prison.


 Friday 11 October:

1900-1930 Registration, cash bar

1930-2130 Film show: Global Atheist Convention 2012: A Celebration of Reason, filmed in Melbourne and featuring the Four Horsemen of New Atheism reprised (Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Sam Harris and with Ayan Hirsi Ali taking the place of the late Christopher Hitchens)

 Saturday 12 October:

0900-0930 Registration, tea and coffee

0930-0940 Welcome – Ian Abbott

0940-1100 Keynote address – David Pollock, BHA Trustee

1100-1120 Break, tea and coffee

1120-1220 Break-out sessions

1220-1250 Plenary discussion

1250-1415 Buffet lunch and Conference Fringe

1415-1430  Inaugural performance of the new Northwest Humanist Choir

1430-1550 What the BHA Does For You – Sara Passmore, BHA Head of Education and Promotion

1550-1610 Break, tea and coffee

1610-1730 Humanism and the Armed Forces – Robin Crosse, UKAFHA

Evening      Informal dining at various locations (facilitated get-togethers)

Sunday 13 October:

0900-0930 Tea and coffee

0930-1050 Humanist Pastoral Support in Prisons – Amy Walden, Probation Officer

1050-1110 Break, tea and coffee

1110-1230 Humanist Question Time, chaired by Guy Otten

Panellists: Robin Crosse, David Pollock, Sara Passmore, Amy Walden

1230-1240 Conference close – Ian Abbott

Question Time Panel - North West Humanist Conference 2012

Question Time Panel – North West Humanist Conference 2012


There is no accommodation included in the price of the conference, and none available at the venue. There are numerous options nearby: hostels, hotels, and even apartments, which could be cost effective if shared by a group. is a useful resource, as is

The nearest hotel is the Macdonald Manchester Hotel and Spa.

Value hotels include The Crown and Anchor, and if peace and quiet is not a “must-have” there is the New Union in the famous gay village.

Higher-end hotels include the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel overlooking Piccadilly Gardens, the Britannia, and Doubletree by Hilton Manchester Piccadilly near to Piccadilly Station. Go classy at The Midland Hotel, the beautiful building where Mr Rolls and Mr Royce met.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is a hostel called ‘Hatters‘ on Newton Street. Cheap as chips.

If there is any demand, we will also endeavour to connect visiting Humanists looking for accommodation with local Humanists willing to offer accommodation.


£45 including conference refreshments – hot buffet lunch on Saturday

(£37 early bird reduced price for bookings received by Tuesday, 6 August 2013)

For further information, contact:

John Coss:    tel: 0161-430-3463

Ian Abbott:          tel: 01253-812-308

Richard Jacques: tel: 07512-660603

Download our brochure and booking form here: Brochure2013

Humanism in Action - Gay and Lesbian Humanists March with Pride for Equality

Humanism in Action – Gay and Lesbian Humanists March with Pride for Equality

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.
E M Forster, Howards End (1910)


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