Earlier this month, community organisers Fee, Laura and Siân travelled to Manchester for Engage Britain's Reconnection Summit - a follow up to this year's UK Reconnection Tour which was welcomed to Coventry by Connecting for Good Cov and local leaders on 2 July.
Fee has kindly written a dairy of their day - her first blog and a pretty good one we think. Read on...
11 October, 6:45am: The alarm clock chimes
It was an early start! We emerged from our hotel as the sun was rising. Beautiful views of Manchester’s charming architecture helped to calm my nerves as we walked to the venue. Laura and I were table facilitators and this was an important responsibility for me. Arriving an hour early meant that we could be briefed by the host on how she wanted us to facilitate. Not everyone is confident to speak up in a group they haven’t met before but this shouldn’t mean that their voice is less heard. Ashley walked around the main hall before the crowds arrived. He familiarised himself with where the toilets were and then set up his yoga mats in the quiet room. He knew that at any point during the event he could come and rest in this calm room.
9:00am: The crowds arrive
In come senior civil servants alongside local charity organisations, like us, Grapevine. That meant that the people on the frontline of the cost of living crisis had the collective power to put to members of our government what change we need to be able to support our communities through this crisis. Before all of that, we start our connections over a coffee and breakfast! The venue was kind of enough to open the basement kitchen to warm up my milk. I brought my own special coffee.
10:30am: Deep in conversation
We discuss questions such as “what change do we need for our charity organisations to survive, and thrive?”. We have 40 minutes to discuss each question as a team and then put our answers into clear, succinct asks. This is harder than it sounds!
3:00pm: Voting time
Each group put forward their main ask to the government. What clear change do they want to see? We then had fun voting for our favourite asks using the stickers we were provided. The host counted up the votes and announced the asks in order. A shift of power to people with lived experience making decisions was a clear winner.
What a day. It was time to soak up the excitement over supper. Ashley was nervous that all of the restaurants were new to him. We looked at the menus in the area and he chose Wagamamas. Our waitress introduced their name and pronouns, and supported us carefully to choose from the menu. The result? Success! Ashley was a big fan and said he would love to come back. Now for a train ride back to our home in Coventry to continue Connecting for Good’s mission to end isolation in our city. The summit left us with new relationships, ideas and connections to introduce to our mission.
Do you want to join us in this mission?