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Communities Can Conference 2021: The sector comes together for a day of thought-provoking discussion

JOHN Rose, the interim CEO of The National Lottery Community Fund, shares how the Communities Can Conference 2021 will bring the voluntary and charitable sectors together to celebrate achievements, reflect on challenges and share thoughts on how to rebuild post-pandemic.    

Convening the sector

It’s one year since the first significant impacts of the pandemic were felt in the UK. Much has been experienced and learnt during this time, but with people, communities and funders all working flat out, there hasn’t been much time to pause and reflect together on what these learnings are. 

At our Communities Can Conference, a diverse range of speakers will come together, including sector leaders, grassroots community groups, funders and policy makers. We’ll hear from the voices of those making the most difference on the ground, drawing upon their experiences and insights from the past 12 months, to explore how the sector can continue its inspiring work as we look towards a brighter future post-pandemic.

After seeing how community groups and charities have evolved and adapted to the constant challenges the pandemic has thrown their way, I have nothing but admiration and pride for the work they have done. As part of my role as interim CEO, I am committed to listening and learning so that the Fund can better support communities to build back better and stronger.

Here is an overview of what you can expect at Communities Can:

Young people and how they hope to build their future post COVID-19

Young people across the UK from our Young People in the Lead advisory panel will design and lead a session on how their generation have played important roles during the pandemic and how they are a key part of building our future. They will lead a discussion on how they’re involved in helping to shape our funding going forwards and the solutions they have to tackling issues our communities are now facing as a result of the crisis.   

Unequal impact of COVID-19 on communities

A panel discussion will explore which groups in our society have been hardest hit by the pandemic – we’ll hear first-hand what they have experienced over the past year. We’ll be discussing how the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and created new ones as well. Our panellists will debate the role of civil society in supporting those communities hardest hit and look at key learnings to develop the most successful approaches going forward.  

Rebuilding our planet – communities taking control of the environmental crisis

Nick Gardner, our Head of Climate Action, will lead a conversation around community action and climate change. We’ll be discussing what best practice can be shared, what the wider benefits are that communities gain from tackling climate change, and what barriers need to be overcome to support people to take the lead on tackling this issue.

This follows the recent launch of our ‘The Power of the Collective’ report, written in conjunction with climate change charity Ashden, aiming to demonstrate and inspire community-led action on the environmental crisis.

Funders and their role in building a better future for communities

Key funders from the sector will come together to look at the challenges they faced during the pandemic and the lessons that have been learnt. Positive takeaways from the past year will be explored and how they can be employed to ensure funders are fit for the future. Our panellists will discuss their role in enabling communities to build back better, such as through small grant funding, which will also be explored in our upcoming ‘Top ten grant themes for up to £10,000’ report.

How will communities rebuild post-COVID-19?

Looking ahead to a post-pandemic world, we’ll be exploring what communities in the future need to thrive and how we truly put people in the lead to build back stronger.

From our recently-launched Community Research Index, we found that three-quarters of people (77%) across the UK say that they will change their behaviour as a result of the crisis, and almost half (48%) think community spirit will be better in the long-run.

We’ll be looking at learnings like this gained during the pandemic to discuss how we can harness and extend the renewed sense of community spirit across the UK and what role might communities have in shaping how the sector looks in the future.

Join the conversation

This free online conference, taking place from 9.30am – 4.15pm on Wednesday 24 March, is open to all, where everyone will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and ask questions. We hope these conversations won’t end on the day and that they spark ideas, discussions and actions that have a long-lasting impact.

Register for both the morning and afternoon sessions on the Fund’s website. We look forward to seeing you there.

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