Solidarity in Sunderland: The BBC Suggests Power To The Local People

Written by on 27th November 2023

Sunderland’s Fire Station hosted the BBC Reith lecture on Tuesday, November 14, 2023. Seeing a number of students, lecturers, and local VIPs in the audience.

Hosted by Professor Ben Ansell, ‘The Future of Solidarity’ is section 3 of the BBC’s 4-part special. It travels internationally as a show chaired by television presenter and journalist Anita Anand to discuss how solidarity can be achieved.

Attendees at the lecture included Director General of the BBC, Tim Davy, and former local MP, Chris Martin. Important players in national politics and media.

Offered as a part of the University of Sunderland’s annual ‘Creative Industries Week’, from November 13 to 17, the event was open to students, staff, and the local public. Guests engaged in discussions over local and national politics as well as in networking opportunities. 

Lecturers at the university have suggested that this is a brilliant way to “offer something different that students can’t get anywhere else”.

The Fire Station venue, located in the heart of Sunderland city centre, was “absolutely packed”, as said by Ms Anand. Excitement was held throughout the venue as audience members had the opportunity to be a part of a nationally famous production.

The Fire Station performance venue in Sunderland. Credit: Alamy

The show was split into 3 sections: Introduction, Lecture, and Question and Answer. First presenting a pre-organized discussion and then opening the floor to the audience.

Topics such as, as said by Professor Ansell, “democracy, security, solidarity, and prosperity” were discussed. The lecture focused on how the British public can look forward following ongoing political turmoil.

Professor Ansell has a Ph.D. in Government, from Harvard University, and is currently a Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions at Nuffield College, Oxford University. 

“How we can develop a shared sense of belonging”, as said by the event synopsis, develops further in the show by stating how progressive the city of Sunderland is. Ms Anand announced the city as “a city of firsts”. The show pushes focus on the local community and how local people deserve to hold a “stake in community success” and will for a bright future for Sunderland. 

The Reith lecture will air to the public on December 13, 2023, on BBC Radio 4, as announced on the night. It will then be available for streaming via the website ( or on BBC Sounds.

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