Make:Shift 2013



The workshop banner at MAKE:shift 2012

The workshop banner at MAKE:shift 2012

Make:Shift 2013 followed on from the success of Make:Shift 2012, which took place in September last year. In 2012, 250 people joined together over the course of two days to get behind four plans (selected from over 60 submitted) to ‘Change Wolverhampton with an idea.’

The four ideas were:

  • Free Organic Gardens – establishing gardens where anyone volunteering could take food for free
  • Gap Fillers – making use of vacant land and buildings for short-term community activities
  • Scribble and Scribe – establishing a team of volunteers to help people fill in complicated official forms
  • Wolvopedia – make Wolverhampton a Wikipedia city

This year’s event sought to learn from last year’s evaluation where participants told us that, whilst the event was excellent, they would prefer it to be less structured. We therefore decided to run the event as an unconference, where participants controlled and drove the agenda.

The Oxford Dictionary defines an unconference as “a loosely structured conference emphasising the informal exchange of information and ideas between participants, rather than following a conventionally structured programme of events.”


Make:Shift 2013

Make:Shift 2013 took place on 9 November. Over 70 people attended the event at the Newhampton Arts Centre.

Prior to the event an intensive social media campaign (Facebook, Twitter and WordPress blog) was conducted. During the event, a team of volunteer social media experts socially reported the event. (The material recorded on Storify will give you an idea about what took place).

Attendance was free and we encouraged people to book in advance using Eventbrite (an online booking system). Approximately 70 people did so and a similar number attended the event (although not all the same people that had booked on – some people turned up on the day and some people who had booked on didn’t turn up).

At the start of the event we encouraged anyone who wanted to pitch an idea to speak to other participants about it in the Make:Shift marketplace.

The opening speech was provided by Councillor Elias Mattu. He spoke about ideas from last year’s event and how, by working together, we can make Wolverhampton more resilient.

Elliot Lord, who pitched the Free Organic Gardens idea, then spoke about how his project had developed since last Make:Shift, and the importance of Make:Shift in helping to make his idea a reality.

After this the ideas for 2013 were pitched. There were 15 ideas in all. Each ideas champion had a maximum of two minutes to pitch their idea. They then chose a time and a room in which to discuss their idea.


The ideas discussed on the day were:

  • Custom Home Build and Self Build
  • Book swapping Network
  • Wolves in Wolves
  • Finchfield Church/ Community Centre
  • Social Media in Communities
  • Off the Grid
  • Art and Craft Co-op
  • Up cycled Furniture Enterprise
  • Art on the move
  • Look Up Wolverhampton
  • Social Steam Engine
  • Creative Conversations
  • What Should be Free?
  • International Links Association

Make:Shift 2013 was a considerable success. Attendance remained constant and there was a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm throughout the day. Participants embraced the free-flowing nature of the unconference. All of the ideas champions were joined by other participants eager to support and add value to their ideas.

After Make:Shift, it was important to maintain the energy and momentum created. We have now allocated mentors to each of the fifteen ideas champions. The role of the mentor is to provide light touch support to the champion and help them overcome any bureaucratic difficulties they might encounter.

We have also organised a series of Make:Shift get togethers to enable the ideas champions to provide each other with peer support. We have even had new ideas pitched at these events.

The council will continue to support the champions to deliver their ideas and it is intended to deliver the next Make:Shift in 2014.



by Sam Axtell

Consultation and Community Involvement Officer

Wolverhampton City Council

Photo Credit: jamesdclarke via Compfight cc

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