Promoting Social Justice
Every year Catalyst’s conference brings together organisations and individuals in the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector to talk about a specific issue. This year, the conference focused on Challenging Inequality and Promoting Social Justice.
With over 120 attendees gathering at the SRC Bede College in Billingham, a busy atmosphere gave a real sense of energy and willingness to challenge and change.
The morning’s first performance was Hilaire, a Togolese musician and storyteller who has the ability to captivate audiences with percussion, spoken word and singing. Hilaire complemented the friendliness of Teesside – now his home – and talked about how willing people in the area were to accept him into their community. Already, the conference was challenging perceptions of inequality.
The day moved on, and Professor Peter Kelly, Director of Public Health in Stockton, took to the floor to present the results of a recent study into Health Inequalities in Stockton-on-Tees. The presentation touched on statistics and figures for the Borough and its various wards, and finally offered the challenge to the VCSE Sector to improve the statistics. Peter asks, “Are we ready?” An overwhelming response of “Yes, we are ready.”
This year we were lucky to have Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, attending as a key speaker. In his speech he talked about some of the great work that happens in the VCSE Sector locally, such as A Way Out and Eastern Ravens Trust.
A total of 10 workshops were held through the day, with each attendee participating in two – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The workshops focused on a variety of topics from Rural Transport; to updates on some of Catalyst’s work; to discussions surrounding research including the “Have Your Say!” VCSE Review.
Finally, comedian Lee Ridley, also known as Lost Voice Guy, closed the show. Lee lives with Cerebral Palsy, but has the drive and determination to be a stand-up comedian. After winning the BBC Radio New Comedy Awards, his dream is now becoming reality. Lee briefly talked about his past and how he became a comedian, and then gave a (censored) preview of his show.
Catalyst would like to thank everyone who attended, presented, and helped to organise the event, making it such a huge success. From senior management to volunteers, the Catalyst Conference 2015 had something for everyone.