Skip to navigation | Skip to content

Last year’s convention

Locality ’16 promised two days of inspiration, innovation and fun – and we certainly delivered!

This year we had a record breaking turnout with over 600 delegates joining us in York. Our Annual Convention is the highlight of our social calendar and the community sector event of the year.

We received almost 100% positive feedback. The action-packed programme of high profile keynote speakers, workshops, masterclasses, local visits, and networking delivered latest learning and top level debates.

This year we were particularly excited to be launching our new report exploring the #FutureofAssets, calling for £1bn to save the places and spaces which make our neighbourhoods shine.

We’ve rounded up some of our convention highlights…

Day 1                                      

Locality ’16 kicked off on 8 November at the York Barbican, a performing arts venue situated near the picturesque city walls.


Our Chief Executive, Tony Armstrong, launched the opening plenary and our ‘Future of Assets’ paper, calling for £1bn to save the nation’s public assets, preventing many of our most iconic community buildings from being lost for good. It’s a huge opportunity to empower communities and regenerate local economies.


Our keynote speaker John McDonnell MP, the Shadow Chancellor, supported our ambitious project, saying it was a ‘realistic proposition’. He also stated the importance of empowering communities so they can support the most vulnerable in society.

John Battle and Tracy Basu from Bramley Baths shared their inspirational story of how they saved the crumbling bathing house and turned it into an exciting new arts and cultural destination in Leeds.


It was a brilliant start and the excitement was so contagious that our tweeting delegates got #Locality16 trending on Twitter – above Toblerone and the US Election! Great job, everyone!

In the afternoon, our delegates were able to get into the heart of community action with superb visits to community-led organisations in York.

This included exploring heritage assets with visits to Fishergate Postern Tower and The Red Tower, and seeing how an enterprising community could take on a community pub and make it work at The Golden Ball Public House.

We heard how St Nicks Centre for Nature and Green Living turned a wasteland into a nature reserve, and how Bishy Road created an award winning high-street.

Delegates also took part in expert led workshops and masterclasses, ranging from saving community libraries, developing community assets and putting neighbourhood planning into action.

In the afternoon, a lively debate chaired by David Brindle of The Guardian on ‘What role community organisations should play in Conservative Britain?’, also featured Karl Wilding at NCVO, and Zara Todd from Equal Lives. It opened up lots of interesting conversations which spilled into our networking drinks reception in the evening.

It was a perfect opportunity to meet innovative organisations, like-minded people, and see new, as well as familiar faces! We refer to convention as being like our big family wedding – it was a fun evening after a busy day of learning and debates.

Day 2

The following morning we were joined in the main auditorium by Sanderson Jones from Sunday Assembly – he’s famous for selling out the Sydney Opera House by hand. Getting the audience up on their feet to renditions of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and ‘Let It Go’, he then called for our network to not lose motivation despite recent world events (the US election results), and for an investment of love back into communities – the start of great things to come.

Discussion then led onto Brexit, exploring the threats and opportunities it may bring.

Our delegates could also speak with funders about social finance and how to make it work for them, and we looked at how health and wellbeing services are providing preventative care in the community and could be a crucial support to our emergency services.

Our Virtual Visits took us on a whistle-stop tour round our four nations, hearing how Hebden Bridge Town Hall became a crucial response team during the Boxing Day floods and how the work of DTA Wales, DTNI and DTA Scotland are creating employment opportunities and helping previously disadvantaged communities to thrive.

In our final closing plenary, Tony Armstrong was joined by Hazel Blears MP and The Rt Hon Lord Heseltine.

We were thrilled that Hazel Blears supported our new Places and Spaces paper and call for £1bn of investment, and said that more must be done to inject opportunity and confidence into communities who feel they are frequently ‘put on the ugly parade’.