As we logged onto our favourite annual event from our virtual offices across the UK, we were reminded of just how different our most anticipated events have been this year.

Locality’s unConvention 2020

Locality’s unConvention took place earlier this week, bringing together hundreds of community organisations to connect, share local knowledge and learn from pioneering leaders, thinkers and doers. 

We were built for this, the theme of this years’ unConvention, rang true across every plenary, every breakout session and every conversation.

In this blog post, we’re sharing our memorable moments and learnings from Locality’s unConvention. 

With a packed programme this really was saving the best to last - In the penultimate event of the programme 

"As a leader, when you get lived experience and you’re not expecting it, it can feel very raw and very what brought me back? The power of community."

Session: Ideas to unleash the power of your community – TED-style talks from inspiring speakers

Being moved to tears by Ruth Ibegbuna, founder of RECLAIM certainly wasn’t expected - but it’s not surprising. 

Ruth opened with a truly honest and authentic reflection of her experience throughout the pandemic. As a CEO turned new-Mum and freelancer at the start of 2020, Ruth told us about how she became the lived experience that the well-intentioned social sector talks about so often, but often in the abstract. 

Reflecting on how she coped in a time of crisis, Ruth spoke about how everything she cared about before didn’t matter to her in the same way - she was in survival mode. 

At this time, Ruth felt as though she had no ideas, no inspiration and she couldn’t be disruptive to make real change - what she needed was to support her family. It was the power of her local community, her friends, neighbours and those who called in that saw her through an extremely difficult time. 

This serves as a crucial reminder to many of us working in roles like ours, that the power of lived experience is vitally important for our work, but perhaps, our work is not vitally important to those living through unpredictable, challenging and uncertain times - we must always bear cognisance of that disconnect. 

"Communities need to play a critical role in rebuilding back better. Social capital needs to be brought to the very front and centre of the Government agenda."

Session: The Politics of community power: Can the government support a community-powered future?

Over the past seven months, the appetite for exploring social investment from the sector certainly has not waned. We were delighted to hear Danny Kruger MP state the importance of social capital and its need to be at the front and centre of the Government agenda, strengthening civil society.

Recognising the need to inject more capital into the sector, Kruger reaffirmed his  commitment to lobby Government colleagues with a focus on unlocking £200bn of dormant bank account assets, to be used as an endowment fund. 

If 2020 has demonstrated anything, it is the resilience, value and reliability of voluntary, community and social enterprise organisationsCommunity organisations have been a lifeline to many throughout the pandemic and will continue to be so as we build back better. 

"There are some uncomfortable truths across the sector, it can be too easy to be complacent about being anti-racist in a sector that is inherently ‘good’."

Session: Why being anti-racist is good for everyone 

The space to discuss, reflect and listen on being an anti-racist organisation was both important and necessary. Asif Afridi from BRAP, led a thought-provoking discussion that led us to assess on both how and why our organisations’ should be anti-racist. 

Whilst at Good Finance we are making progress in our commitment to being anti-racist, there is still enormous amounts of work to do, both in our organisations’ and across the social investment sector. 

Crucially, Asif spoke about how many organisations have rushed to change or update their diversity policies and frameworks, yet, haven’t had the challenging, emotional and crucial conversations needed to assess what an anti-racist organisation is. This is what leads to lack of accountability and limited progress being made. 

Asif reminded us that approaching this work needs to be done safely, ensuring that team members take care of themselves both in and after sessions and to always be kind. But, honesty is not the same as comfort, so having difficult conversations in safe spaces is the first step to making progress. 

You can find out more about the work Good Finance is undertaking to improve access to information, education and resources from black and minority ethnic led organisations here

There's hope for a little more convention

There are so many more things that we could’ve shared with you but to follow the conversation, check out @localitynews.  Two days of inspiring and empowering conversations reminds us how fortunate we are and this drives the team forward in our commitment to supporting the growth of social enterprises and charities. 

We hope that next year, things are a little more conventional and that we can connect in person with fantastic community-powered organisations at Locality’s Convention in Birmingham. 

This year’s event leaves a reminder of how challenging 2020 has been for communities, but how resilient and innovative local organisations who support them really are.