Finding inspiration and meeting new organisations at the Locality Conference

rachelI recently had the opportunity to attend the Locality Annual Conference in Leicester, which proved to be really interesting – so thought I would provide a bit of an update on some of the things I saw and interesting projects I learnt about. 

Having never been to a Locality conference before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, though the agenda and list of speakers had set my expectations high. I was not disappointed.

The event was opened with a speech by Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, and then went on to have a Question Time-style panel with Mary O’Hara (a journalist), Rob Berkeley (the Director of  the Runnymede Trust), and Ed Cox (Director at IPPR). 

The audience were encouraged to participate and at some parts the debate got very heated; it was great to step away from the traditional presentations you can often get at conferences and have something more interactive.

After lunch I was lucky enough to get to visit one of Leicester’s outstanding social and community enterprises. 

This was a brilliant opportunity for me to step out of the office and experience innovation and excellence at a local level. I went to visit Highfields Community Centre, which used to be owned by the local authority but was brought into community ownership after a ten year campaign. 

The centre was impressive - with a sports hall, gym, music studio and a film recording and editing suite. The most impressive thing though was the commitment and dedication the staff showed to the community and the centre - they run a huge range of learning opportunities through courses, clubs and activities.

A quick coffee break later, and I was at an expert workshop given by Ignition Enterprises Limited on ‘contract readiness’. 

They covered topics including procurement, preparing tenders and co-designing services, and addressed a lot of the problems facing front line voluntary and community organisations at the moment, when they are trying to win contracts.

So after a full first day I was able to enjoy the conference dinner and meet a whole new bunch of inspiring people working in the VCS - and prepare for day two.

Day two started with some more great speakers, including Pam Warhurst from Incredible Edible and Ben Haggarty from the Crick Crack Club, who told some inspirational stories.

To close, the final round of speakers were challenged with the topic ‘Building Possibility – a new deal between community and the state?’

A range of opinions and suggestions were given, but all of them wanted to see communities where people felt a sense of pride and ownership now and in the future - and this was a very positive message to end on. 

I’d like to thank Locality for such an informative, inspirational and enjoyable conference, and I look forward to next year.  

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