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Martin Yarnit

Martin Yarnit

Martin is married and lives in Sheffield. As well as family, his energies go into education, deliberative democracy and food. Martin was the prime mover behind Adult Learners Week, launched in 1992 and still going strong in the UK and more than 20 other countries.

Other claims to fame:

  • chairing and developing the UK’s Learning City Network, the first national network of its kind 
  • leading the development of community learning champions, a scheme that uses volunteers to involve others in adult learning and which was backed by both Labour and the Conservatives 
  • leading Compass’ work on local democratic accountability in education
  • publishing a book (jointly with Jane Mace in 1987) Time Off to Learn: paid educational leave for low paid workers that set out an agenda for the labour movement whose heyday is still to come.

Martin is a founder of Talk Shop, a new way of developing the skills of deliberative democracy using active learning. This approach complements citizens’ assemblies, involving thousands rather than hundreds of people in devising win-win solutions to seemingly intractable public policy issues.

As a Churchill Fellow, Martin has researched the contribution of food hubs in the US and coops in Italy to creating sustainable support systems for small food producers and for food distribution. The report Towards a Food Revolution: Food hubs and Cooperatives in the US and Italy is available to read here.

Martin is also keen on cooking, especially Italian. His homage to Bologna – Foodlover’s Bologna – is an e-book that explores the production of the classics – parmesan, parma ham and mortadella – shows how to make lasagne and tortellini, and offers 90 recipes. Martin will send you a copy if you ask!