This May, UNA-UK members from across the country will gather for Conference ‘17 to discuss the state of the world, swap ideas and get equipped to be activists in their own community.
Conference has always changed with the times, and that’s never been more true than this year. With a revamped format and over half the people registered coming for the first time, what can attendees expect? Tim Jarman and Andrew Boakes (Chair and Vice Chair of the organising committee) answer some of our members’ most frequently asked questions below.
When, where and how much?
Tim: 10am–6pm on Saturday 20 May at NCVO near King’s Cross station in London. We’ve set the price as low as possible, £30, and it includes lunch. Thanks to the generosity of UNA Eastern Region, there are some student tickets available for half price.
Who is coming, and why?
Andrew: Participation will be diverse with members coming from all corners of the UK. Some will be old hands but for many, it will be their first Conference. Everyone, though, will be serious about one thing: bringing the work and values of the United Nations to their own community.
What will happen on the day?
Tim: Conference ‘17 will be all about meeting new people, exchanging ideas and working together on a UNA-UK campaign. There will be breakout groups to grill UNA-UK team members, first-hand advice from a guest campaigner and the opportunity to contribute to UNA-UK’s work. We’ve kept one of the best bits from previous conferences – attendees will be invited to present their own global passions. Of course, one of the outcomes of the day will be that UNA-UK will invest in some of the ideas that we generate.
So what’s the big campaign?
Andrew: ‘Keeping Britain Global’ is one of UNA-UK’s big campaigns this year. It’s all about holding our leaders to account for the international commitments they have made. After Britain decided to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May promised a “bold”, “new” and “positive” global role for the UK. Are we on the right track?
From human rights to disarmament, UNA-UK has identified five areas where the UK has the opportunity to take the lead and make a positive contribution. The challenge now is to make our voice heard at a community level. We’ll explore how to engage your community with issues like arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UN peacekeepers.
Why the new format?
Tim: The Conference Committee is made up of people elected by UNA-UK members at 2015’s event. We used feedback from previous conferences and worked closely with UNA-UK’s staff team this year to make sure our event resonates as much as possible with their work and has the biggest impact. We’re looking forward to hearing feedback from people who come.
Are there any pre- and post-conference events?
Andrew: Yes! The two most popular requests we receive from members are for more time to socialise and to hear more from the UNA-UK team about their work. For our social event, we’re organising a meal for the evening before Conference. Everyone who books will get an invitation and we hope you can make it. We’ve also asked UNA-UK to reinstitute the popular ‘Staying Connected ’ event. This session will take place after Conference itself and is an opportunity for members to hear about, and grill the UNA-UK team on, their work.
Photo: copyright UNA-UK