National Conference 2021: Take a stance and find chances for change

23 Sep 2021

RESULTS National Conference, 11-12 September, 2021. Illustration of people sat down; one on a laptop, some write letters and others are painting a banner that says 'change'. Beneath the illustration: Take a stance and find chances for change

Over the weekend of 11-12 September we held our annual National Conference! As lovely as it would have been to reconnect in person, it was safer to have an online event for the second year running. It was great to be joined by people all over the country, and even internationally! 

This year, the theme of our National Conference was ‘Take a stance and find chances for change‘. We wanted to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and politics on what we campaign on, and how we do it. COVID-19 has shifted a lot of our communications online and made the battle against inequality and poverty even more urgent. Meanwhile, Government attitudes to campaigning has made it harder to have our voices heard, both in the UK and in other countries. The conference looked at how we take a stance on these connected issues, explore the challenges of communicating with politicians and each other remotely, and make the best of chances to create meaningful change.

We spent time together to reflect on these issues, as well as build on our advocacy skills! Over the weekend, we had a varied agenda (see the agenda here) and were joined by a range of incredible speakers (read our speaker bios here). Thank you to everyone who came, and to all our fantastic speakers. We hope you enjoyed the conference and feel inspired to take a stance and find chances for change!

In case you weren’t able to join us, or would like to reminisce about the weekend, you can read a recap of sessions and view recordings in this blog.

This year marked 35 years of RESULTS UK so we kicked off with a warm welcome and celebration from the Grassroots Network. If you are inspired by the conference to get involved with our campaigning, find out more here

 

Welcome from the Grassroots network

RESULTS UK Executive Director Aaron Oxley and Grassroots Advocates Jess, Princess and Richard, welcome everyone to the conference. A snapshot of who RESULTS is, how we use our voices for change and what we’ve been up to recently.

 

Keynote address with Gina Miller

With her vast campaigning experience and drive for fairness and social justice, Gina Miller addressed the challenges campaigners face in the UK now, and how civil society space is changing.

Speaker: Gina Miller

Host: Alan Lally-Francis, RESULTS UK Head of Policy and Advocacy 
 

Taking a stance on COVID-19 vaccine equity, a global approach

How are campaigners tackling the COVID-19 crisis across the world? And how is the way we campaign shaped by local contexts? In this conversation between a panel of campaigners fighting for vaccine equity, we heard about different approaches to campaigning on the issue and how political space and society affects how campaigners take their stance

Chair of session: Chris Dendys

Panelists: Varsha Gandikota-Nellutla, Pedro Villardi, Rachmi Hertanti, Chika Offor. Edited to include a pre-recorded contribution from Néstor Ramos, volunteer campaigner at RESULTS Mexico.

Useful links shared during the session: ACTION global health advocacy partnership, The Summit for Vaccine Internationalism and its outcomes.

 

Chances for changing contact with your MP

RESULTS volunteers have a fantastic track record of writing to, and meeting, MPs to help make change. What chances does the pandemic offer us to do things a bit differently and build these important political relationships in new ways? We heard from Chris Law MP about what makes him sit up and listen to constituents and get some top tips from across the RESULTS network on what has worked for them. 

Speakers: Chris Law MP, RESULTS Grassroots campaigners Jay and Caroline

Chair of session: Naveed Chaudhri, RESULTS UK Head of Campaigns

 

Navigating the Maze of Campaigning

Zoom screenshot with 20 screens showing smiling faces and hand written notes that read things like "never stop shouting" "inspired "A few committed citizens can change the world"
Group photo sharing one word or phrase that came to mind after day 1 of the conference.

An advocate faces many barriers, opportunities and unexpected events in their journey to influencing decision-makers about issues related to international development. In this interactive session, co-created and chaired by Tahira Kulsoom, we worked in small breakout groups to play a maze game, with the aim of coming up with lots of ideas for different campaigning scenarios. You can view the completed jamboard game to see what ideas were shared. If you would like to use this as a tool and play it in your own campaigning groups, you can ‘make a copy’ of this blank version of the jamboard game. We rounded up day one of the conference by noting one thing that came to mind for a group photo!

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Taking a stance on the language we use: why the way we talk about poverty and injustice matters 

There are many words, phrases and narratives that come up when campaigning against global poverty and injustice. Some of these perpetuate oppressive ideas and stereotypes whilst others promote social justice and solidarity. Starting with a panel discussion, a range of speakers shared their thoughts and opinions on different ways of talking about poverty and injustice, and why it matters. 

Chair of session: Motunrayo Fagbayi

Panellists: Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Sarika Bansal, Abraham Makanjuola

Useful links shared during the session: RESULTS UK anti-oppression work, Tread Brightly: Notes on Ethical Travel (edited by Sarika Bansal).

Following the recorded panel discussion, attendees went into breakout groups for 10 minutes to discuss the topic. After watching the discussion, we encourage you to think about these questions too:

Reflection: How did you find the panel discussion? Were there any particular parts of the discussion that stood out to you?

Moving forwards: Has the session made you reconsider any of your own actions and uses of language? If you could push yourself to change one thing about the way you talk about poverty and injustice, what would it be? How can we hold ourselves accountable for making this change as we move forwards?

 

The art of simplicity: creating snappy social media posts

How can we turn complex and political issues into short and snappy social media messages? And make sure the content we create and share is as engaging as possible? We heard from experts on how to get to (and stick to) the point, and from campaigners who create their own visuals to stand out on Instagram and beyond. You might find it helpful to pause the recording at the breakout group activity and have a go!

Speakers: Tatton Spiller and Leonie Mills

Chair of the session: Dela Anderson, RESULTS UK Campaigns and Communications Officer.

Useful links shared during the session: Simple politics; twitter, website and mailing list, Unsplash and CC Search (source of images), Canva (design site) and Canva tutorial, accessible social media training with the Staying Inn

 

Keynote Addresses: Choosing our battles and interconnected issues, with Jeffrey D. Sachs and Dr Danny Sriskandarajah 

Our two high-profile contributors brought their different perspectives to the interconnectedness of the Sustainable Development Goals and the interlinked nature of the issues we advocate on - one as a development economist, and the other as a senior leader of a global NGO delivering a multi-faceted international development programme.

Speakers: Jeffrey D. Sachs and Dr Danny Sriskandarajah

Host of the session: Aaron Oxley, Executive Director at RESULTS UK

Useful links shared during the session: Jeffrey Sachs’ speech at the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit

 

Part of the bigger picture: reflecting and celebrating our role as campaigners 

Screenshot from Zoom for 'Part of the bigger picture' session' showing lots of smiling and clapping people on Zoom
Screenshot from the lat session of the conference

We rounded up the Conference with an interactive session created and facilitated by Lucy Marie Russell. Starting with a game of global bingo, we got thinking about how we are connected to global issues on a personal level. We then thought about what motivates us as campaigners and what recharges our batteries, remembering that self-care is important. Campaigning on global issues can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, but every action we do is important, no matter how small, as shown in The Starfish poem, and when we are working with others, we are never too small to make a difference, as shown in the Unison bear clip. The session concluded with a chat about campaign celebrations; from Lucy’s period poverty campaigning to successes from RESULTS UK which you can read about here and here (page 8).

Ruthie Walters

Campaigns Coordinator

Ruthie Walters is our Campaigns Coordinator and holds a First Class degree in International Development with Spanish from the University of Sussex. She is an experienced and passionate activist, co-running a successful workers' rights campaign at University, which focused on workers in the...

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