The Locality Conference gave me the opportunity to appreciate local community action and its powerful breadth that is happening across our nation.

Journey

My Locality journey is fairly new but no lesser in riches. From the very beginning, my first West Midlands meet up was in Wolverhampton and left me physically moved and motivated. Envigored by the people and projects I heard, they reminded me that despite often adverse circumstances, people triumph on an individual and a much bigger scale.

People

The Locality conference in Bristol offered me insight into the magnitude of achievement and creativity out there through the talks, workshops and visits but also the people that I stood with along the way. I invite you on a whistle-stop tour of the conference, through my eyes and interactions.

Place

We meet at Bristol, and are inspired by the fine words of sense from Mayor Marvin Reeves, impacting connections to enable change and motivating with asset appreciation to fuel action.

A quick stop from the House of Commons to see how Rt Hon James Brockenshire MP is filling his new shoes as Communities Secretary. We then went to the outskirts of Bristol to appreciate the work of Amy Kinnear and Suzanne Wilson. In the Bedminster district of the city, they implement change by inviting the community to speak out about what they want and need.

Debate

Time to board the fun bus on our way to Barton Hill Settlement to unpick the benefits and dangers of merging community projects. During the ride there I engaged with a marketing mogul, part of the colourful and expanding Halifax HOT. I debate youth struggles and engaging the disparities of communities within East London with James Minton of Toynbee Hall.

Deliberations and considerations play out around the table, with lots of discussion from experience for the future visions of Barton Hill Settlement and Wellbeing HLC.

Creativity

Back at Locality Convention ’18 HQ, a hive of energetic activity occurred. We immersed ourselves in storytelling from the inspiring Hero Project of Newcastle and gained engagement generating tools from the gown and town Cambridge folk of Kettles Yard. Experiences and concepts flowed between our group all the way from Beijing, London, Istanbul, and Birmingham. The local passion entwined on a global scale, 89 ideas were brainstormed.

Power

The final power hour was inviting discussion upon the work of keeping services local to transform lives. This included Locality’s hard work with members and the government to make this notion a firm reality. Passionate Robin Tuddenham engaged the audience with his 6-year plan for innovative local answers to very real national problems played out in Calderdale.

Paul Streets of Lloyds bank did a fine job of animating the stage with his appetite for why money works better in the hands of local projects. Heather Williams was the proof of how drive, determination, and trust make a difference to the lives of individuals and the community as a unity.

Celebration in innovation

A whirlwind awards ceremony ends the evening with awe-inspiring videos inviting nominees from Camden to Kirklees, Plymouth to Leeds, all are winners, just some received a trophy.

Passion

I leave with so much, from one space yet connecting across the nation:

• Talk- to your community and listen. What do they want? Get creative.
• Share- ideas and energy, collaborate and create.
• Learn from each other and yourself.
• Don’t give up.

Rhiannon Simpson 

Moseley Development Trust