Big Tent Digital past events

People Power

The case for putting local communities at the heart of plans for a new resilient Britain

More community involvement needed in social services says Local Trust

Local communities across Britain need to be given a bigger say in the re-shaping of public policy as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the consensus expressed at a digital event organised by Big Tent Ideas on Thursday evening, Chaired by Rob McMillan, of Sheffield Hallam University.

Read more about the discussion


A Home for All

What do we need to give everyone the security of a safe and settled home during during these unprecedented times?

“We’re at a crossroads” says homeless charity Crisis

Without the right initiatives put in place, a large number of the homeless people currently benefiting from Government-funded temporary accommodation across the UK risk ending up without a place to stay this summer. This was the message of Crisis, the UK’s biggest charity focused on ending homelessness, presented at a digital event organised by Big Tent Ideas on Thursday evening.

Read more about the discussion


IN Conversation with John Humphrys and David Blunkett

“Communication has been shocking” – Former Home Secretary David Blunkett speaks out on Government’s COVID-19 response

Labour party politician David Blunkett spoke out about the UK Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in a digital session hosted by Big Tent Digital on Monday night, criticising its mixed messages and how it has impacted the outfall of policies.  

Read more about the discussion

Big Tent Friends and Student Friends can watch a full replay of this event (Sign in required).


“Stories over scoops” – Janine di Giovanni and Sarah Baxter reflect on their lives as foreign correspondents

On Thursday 28th May, multi-award winning journalist and author Janine di Giovanni and The Sunday Times’ deputy editor Sarah Baxter came together for an in-depth conversation on their careers as reporters, moderated by Emily Benn as part of Big Tent Ideas’ series of digital events.

Janine di Giovanni, who has reported from numerous wars including the first Palestinian intifada and the siege of Sarajevo, explained how she moved from her initial academic path to journalism in order to share the stories of some of the most vulnerable communities around the world.  

Read more about their fascinating discussions.

Big Tent Friends and Student Friends can watch a full replay of this event (Sign in required).


Group Psychology, Behavioural Science and Designing Policy

Thursday 21st May

“What I found interesting was the horror of the use of the word herd immunity which struck horror in the general public as the use of the word suggest treating people like cattle. It shows the importance of wording and terminology”. 

Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy UK

On Thursday, Rory Sutherland, Chairman of Ogilvy UK and Liam Halligan of the Telegraph discussed group psychology, behavioural science and designing policy.  Rory outlined the benefits of behavioural science can have when developing public policy to help everyone adapt and thrive in times of profound change. Read about the discussions on our website.

Festival Friends and Student Friends can watch replays of all our events by logging into the Friends section of our website.


The Balancing Act 

Thursday 14th May

With grateful thanks to our speakers, Prof. Hugh Montgomery, Prof. Louise Kenny and Dr Séamus O’Neill.

Government needs to set the destination, not the route

On Thursday 14th May, Prof. Hugh Montgomery, Prof. Louise Kenny and Dr Séamus O’Neill came together for a Big Tent Digital event to discuss how the crisis of The COVID-19 response has failed to take into account regional differences, and the easing of lockdown needs to be communicated locally to reflect people’s immediate surroundings and risk factors.

Festival Friends and Student Friends can watch replays of all our events by logging into the Friends section of our website.


Festival Friend or Student Friend? Click here to view a replay of this session (password required).


Testing the Nation

Thursday 30th April

The Big Tent Ideas Festival and Foundation would like to express their grateful thanks to our speakers, Polly Mackenzie, Paul Davis and Ryan Wain for their excellent and insightful discussion.

Mass testing needed to get us out of COVID-19 crisis

Accelerating the fight against COVID-19 will require a global scale-up of manufacturing of diagnostic tests, and the UK needs a senior minister with sole responsibility for mass testing. These were some of the views expressed in Big Tent Ideas’ first digital event of 2020, hosted on Zoom on the evening of 30 April.

The call for a new ministerial appointment came from Ryan Wain, Strategic Advisor to the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change:

“Mass testing is the cornerstone of any viable exit strategy from this lockdown. It must sit alongside other measures including contact tracing and shielding. For this to be rolled out we need to see the appointment of a senior minister with sole responsibility for testing, reporting to the prime minister. On top of the superlabs already created across the country, we need to make sure smaller labs are also working at full capacity, new testing innovations are properly cultivated and scaled, and that the preparation for community testing starts now. Accomplishing this is possible, but will require extraordinary leadership and coordination.”

Professor Paul Davis, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Mologic, discussed how his firm has developed independently validated antibody tests and made ready for scaled-manufacture with capability to process tens of thousands of results every day – relieving testing pressures in both the UK and Africa:

“Extraordinary efforts are currently being made to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, and to Mologic it is clear that focus needs to be on not only the mass production of tests, but finding ways of delivering them to everyone in need, wherever they live, while maintaining transparency, responsiveness, and open collaboration.”

Presentation and replay

Friends of the Festival will be able to access a recording of the discussion here (password required)