We received many excellent workshop submissions and where possible have asked members to deliver sessions collaboratively. The six member workshops will be a core part of the first three weeks of the conference. The members leading these workshops will explore a range of themes and, in bringing the practical knowledge and experience of charities to the fore, will realise the aim of the conference itself, which is charities sharing knowledge and collaborating in order to bring about positive change.
In development sessions for the workshops it has been inspiring to see our members coming together and sharing their ideas, their knowledge of both the problems of health inequity and the solutions they have found. Members have hashed out ideas for collaborative sessions, finding common ground and sometimes areas of disagreement. Some of these members already know one another and work closely together. For others it’s the first time they’ve met. Coming away from these meetings I am left with a hope that they have found shared ground to pursue together. The sessions themselves invite other members, non-members, VCSE sector partners health sector partners, and experts by experience to get involved in these conversations around both the root causes of and specifics of health inequity and - most importantly - what we can do together to tackle them.
A highlight of the preliminary meetings for me have been discussions between The Patient Experience Library, Groundswell and Turning Point, who will be leading one of the sessions on day one of the conference, 2 March 2:15pm. The three organisations will be taking a solution-focused approach to addressing health inequalities, focusing on partnerships, peer-led approaches and connections. It has been energising to see how these organisations have found so many areas of synchronicity during the meetings, and are so supportive and collaborative in their approach.
Another notable highlight for me has been the shaping of the final workshop of the conference, 16 March 2.15pm, with Future Care Capital, Macmillan Cancer Support and Compassion in Dying. This workshop will focus upon, “The Human Within The Digital”, as all three organisations have been using storytelling to improve health outcomes.
Last week Rebecca, our Head of Policy, blogged that We need to talk about race. She spoke about the importance of being open and honest about our blind spots. I will not pretend these workshops will be perfectly representative, in some of (not all) the preliminary meetings, bringing people from several member charities together for the first time, we have all been concerned that we are a sea of white faces. Where possible we are bringing a more diverse range of voices into the workshops, and we will be open about gaps. Our conference session, 9 March 2:15pm, is a partnership between Youth Access UK and Birthrights on addressing racial injustice in healthcare, with a focus on organising with members and people with lived experience to actively dismantle systemic racism.
My hope is always that National Voices’ membership connects charities with one another, providing opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaboration, so that together we can give voice to, and progress, issues where one charity alone would find this impossible. Please join us for the conference, bring your knowledge and add your voice, all are welcome.