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Making a BIG difference in challenging times

9 December 2011

Strength in networking

The team in the East of England has had a busy week – we’ve been out networking with over 100 funding advisors and community engagement practitioners from across the region.

Now in its sixth year and gaining momentum year on year, our stakeholder conference Funding East continues to attract people helping not-for-profit groups make a real difference in their communities.

We change the topic every time we run one of these events to make sure we’re giving people what they want. Deciding on this year’s theme was easy: ‘Making a big difference in challenging times’.

Shadab Hussain and Will Lafferty from Diverse FM

Shadab Hussain and Will Lafferty from Diverse FM

The conference this year was held across two sites – at Ipswich’s IP City Centre and Luton’s Hat Factory. We invited non-attendees to contribute via twitter using #fundingeast – this was our first foray into social reporting so it was great to see people tweeting throughout the two events.

We asked Sue Lowe, policy manager for the East region from the Office for Civil Society, to give us an update on the government’s delivery of the Big Society agenda. Sue spoke about the opportunities brought about by the Localism Bill and the Open Public Services White Paper – you can see the slides from her presentation. This certainly gave the audience food for thought and prompted further questions throughout the day.

And following the theory, delegates were treated to Civil Society in Action with Leah Douglas from Ipswich’s Big Local Trust. Having worked in community engagement for over thirty years, Leah enthused the audience with her innovative ways of getting people involved. Introducing three ‘Community Stars’ who could talk about their

Danielle Jackman

Danielle Jackaman tells us why she's on the Big Local Trust People's Panel

personal reasons for getting involved was inspirational.

One of the stars who sits on the People’s Panel – working mother Danielle Jackaman said: “The Big Local Trust money seemed too good to be true – I could see that this could transform people’s lives and wanted to be part of an active community.”

In Luton, Martin Steers and Ashuk Ahmed MBE from Diverse FM, Luton’s community radio station, talked about the opportunities the Lottery-funded project brings to the community – supporting local community groups to promote themselves and the work they do. Three young men gave their success stories through individual testimonials.

The speed dating session just before lunch proved immensely popular with many delegates boasting an increase in valuable contacts – our Jonathan enjoyed playing cupid!

Delegates busy speed dating

“Fantastic speed networking at #fundingeast loads of new contacts” just one of the tweets we received during the session.

After lunch, delegates were treated to a presented by Kim Townsend, community outreach manager from Media Trust – getting people to be honest about how social they are was a great ice-breaker! 

Simon Singleton updated the Ipswich audience about Suffolk’s Hidden Need

And in Luton, Mark West talked about – a not-for-profit website which provides local charities and community groups with the technology to raise money, awareness and support online.

The next event will be held in the spring so we are keen to keep the conversation flowing: keep the tweets coming #fundingeast!

Kim Townsend

‘Where are you in the social media queue?’ Kim Townsend gets delegates into line.

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