North/South: an English Workshop

North/South: an English Workshop

There is a ‘great divide’ geographically, demographically, historically, economically, psychologically and even spiritually between the North & South of England. However due to the English propensity for ‘polite egalitarianism’ (if we take Kate Fox’s anthropological study seriously) we would rather overlook this reality than face up to it.

The North-South divide has a serious detrimental effect on human relations in England. Inequality between North & South is growing, notwithstanding initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse and High Speed Two (HS2) which may have little or even detrimental effect.

Everyone with a concern for a flourishing England is welcome to this workshop, no matter where they are ‘from’ (England or elsewhere). The workshop engaged participants in origins and movements through our life journeys, addressing the contested question of the existence and whereabouts of the boundary between North & South and offer creative ways of holding in tension the polarity that is ‘North / South’ in England.

The hope of the workshop was to create the motivation for change and action for those who attended.


Hypotheses and comments from participants at the end of the workshop
  • Can Millennials and young people re-configure the divide with start-ups?
  • The curiosity of exploring the unknown, the unfamiliar could/should be held by us all.
  • The link between privation and authenticity leaves the North fetishized.
  • We all have to deal with London which is not going away.
  • Because narratives of “the North” are persistently “negative” (one-dimensional) it may take a v. long time of active counter-narrativity to balance the country.
  • That the South holds the possibility of diversity being [??unreadable] formative whilst the North embodies the fear of the loss of essence/identity.
  • Real regional inequality leads to resentment and guilt.
  • N/S divide needs overcoming so that England can have healthy relationships with rest of UK & Europe & World because of Brexit voting / Scottish independence/ North Ireland and Eire.
  • The flourishing of England is held back because the divisions are deep seated between N&S i.e. remain/leavers – class – and the institutions of power are located in London – civil service, city, parliament.


Nigel Rooms is a Church of England priest with a portfolio of roles which include consultancy and research. Originally from Yorkshire, Nigel has lived and worked in Wales, Southern England, Africa and the Midlands. He has just crossed the River Trent and moved from Nottingham to Leicester. Last year he co-edited a book of essays focusing on questions that the North raises for the Church in England. Nigel is currently learning on the Tavistock Institute’s P3C Practitioner Certificate in Consulting and Change.Rosy Fairhurst is currently Canon Chancellor of Leicester Cathedral, which means that she oversees education, interpretation and formation in the life and work of the Cathedral and its partnerships. Formerly she worked as an Organisational Analyst with The Grubb Institute, was Director of Mission and Ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon (training clergy) and served in parishes in Islington, Hackney and at St Martin in the Fields in London. She grew up in Lowry country – Stockport, one of the circle of ten towns round Manchester.Rosy and Nigel work together leading the Liminal Leadership Conference which has grown out of The Grubb’s Transforming Clergy Leadership Conferences.
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