Our roots are powerful.  They define us, nurture us, keep us grounded. They help us to grow and flourish - and sometimes they hold us back.


Depending on your background, not only do your life chances vastly differ but also your perspective on the country, your values, your aspirations and often your politics.

Brexit gave the country a jolt. For the first time many were aware that others felt violently different about their vision for the UK. The referendum exposed differences and we have struggled to find a way to back together.

A new narrative

The Roots Programme is a radical new initiative that believes our society benefits if we bring together people with hugely different lives in an authentic and meaningful way. The premise is simple. We will take people from different walks of life and have them meet and eat, talk and debate matters that affect us all. We will unite them and build understanding around their differences and, importantly, their similarities.

Join the Movement

Contribute to our crowdfunder
Thank you for your donations so far and for your belief in our programme! We are still researching and fundraising and we need your help. Your donations will allow us to roll these projects out in 2019.
Complete and share our community consultation
We need responses from every location, political and socio-economic background in the UK so we know we are running a programme that meets the needs of all of us.

Our Team

Meet our team members

Ruth Ibegbuna

Ruth Ibegbuna

Founder & Director

Hiya. I am a restless northern soul who often despairs at the level of social inequality in this country. I’ve decided to stop shouting at Question Time and try my hand, with others, to do something practical to help knit communities closer together. I have way more ideas than is healthy for any functioning adult but I also have hope in humanity and a belief that things can and must get better.

James Appleton

James Appleton

Director, Strategy

Token southerner. John Major once thought I had sung to him in a choir but I hadn’t. I eat life-threatening quantities of Haribo and pizza and make unnecessary jokes when Kerry and Ruth are trying to be serious. Most of my career has been in charities and I love that feeling of finding a solution to a problem people have. I’ve also spent my life with people from across the socioeconomic spectrum, and the different life experiences of them all tells me we need to do more to bridge the divides.

Kerry Whitelegg

Kerry Whitelegg

Director, Operations

Hi! I’m a born and raised Manchester girl, grew up on a council estate with just Mum and 3 sisters, I went to a comprehensive state school and went straight into work at 16. Having recently moved back home to Manchester after a 6 year stint living and working in Essex and London, and finding myself spending time with people who actively discuss politics, class and inequality, I have been able to recognise the stereotyping on both sides, often down to a simple lack of opportunity to experience anything other than our own bubble, outside of media representation.

This is where a project like Roots becomes necessary.

Our Programmes

We conduct community exchanges between people of different backgrounds. Our two programme streams, Experience and Education, work with adults and young people respectively. Take a look at the programme profiles, and if one seems to be a good match - just click to register your interest!

Roots: Experience

Community influencers

Individuals in working class, northern communities.

Admired on their streets. Role models.

National Leaders

Senior figures in business, media and politics.

The decision makers of our nation.

Roots: Education

State schools

Intelligent and engaged young people from working class communities.

Private Schools

Bright students from wealthy backgrounds. Expected to be the national leaders of the future.


Both programmes follow the same structure:

  • Our trained facilitators meet with the participants in their cohorts. They discuss their hopes and fears, preconceptions and doubts. Participants will gain an understanding of bias and be trained in constructive, non-judgemental dialogue.
  • The community exchange takes place. In Experience, this involves pairing a community figure with a national influencer. Each party goes to the home of the other, shares a home-cooked meal and talks. They find their common ground and understand their differences. In Education, students spend time in both the schools and homes of their peers. They find out how their counterparts live and learn, and they make friends across boundaries.
  • The cohorts are brought back together to share their experiences. They will make pledges for change in their lives based on what they have seen and learnt.
  • Our team checks in with the participants six months later to find out what has changed for them.