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Thank you to all those who attended this year’s Catalyst Conference.

The Conference took place on Friday 25th October at Princess Alexandra Auditorium, Yarm School. The day itself saw over 130 people come together to learn more about the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector in Stockton-on-Tees.

The theme for the Conference was ‘You’re the Voice’, which aimed to empower individuals and organisations in the sector to make their voices heard. The Conference had 25 stalls from VCSE organisations, which attendees had opportunities to visit and network.

Catalyst Conference 2019 – You’re the Voice

Steve Rose, Catalyst’s Chief Executive, opened the conference with an empowering poem:

On Tuesday I watched on this very stage
From those seats an old punk poet rage
And boy I tell you he didn’t half shout
And let us know what it’s all about
And now I find only three days hence
I’ve moved from the seats and crossed the fence
To welcome you from this same stage
And maybe I should also rage
About the things that we hold dear
That all seem to us so very clear
That all the people we see and help
Are going through a private hell
Brought on by circumstance not planned
And need us to get them to stand
Up for themselves to hear them say
We’re here too and want to play
You know I really love our sector
And at its best it will effect a
Change in lives, in towns and ‘hoods
‘Cause, at our best we ain’t half good
But I don’t need to rant and rage
The work you do is centre stage
You show the world what needs to be done
And by the way it should be fun
Yes You’re the Voice of those in need
You’re the Voice for all who lead
Hard working lives and don’t say a word
But really, really should be heard
I don’t want to whine or hector
Let’s celebrate our voluntary sector
We know that we don’t have a choice
So let us all use our Voice
Yes You’re the Voice say it loud
You are the Voice and let’s be proud
You’re the Voice and let’s act today
On everything you’ve got to say
You’re the Voice

The key note speakers delivered inspiring talks, Peter Stark OBE, opened with an insightful talk about climate change and how the VCSE sector can support combatting this, most found his talk to be eye opening. Due to unforeseen circumstances Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen could not attend, so we are grateful to Dr Paul Williams, MP for Stockton South for stepping in at the last minute to provide an empowering speech about the invaluable work our sector provides. The Lunchtime presentation was given by Carl Gowland, Hartlepool and Stockton Health, who spoke about ‘Social Prescribing Link Workers.’

The workshops were delivered by external agencies and proved to be very popular with most of them being fully booked. They were:

  • How a Community Group can change your life
    Delivered by Cleveland Carvers
  • How Social Enterprises should be Thinking as a Business
    Delivered by Enterprise Made Simple
  • The Benefits of Volunteering for Mental Health
    Delivered by Middlesbrough & Stockton Mind
  • Tees Valley ESF Community Grants
    Delivered by Hartlepool Borough Council
  • Are the Health Services you use meeting your needs?
    Delivered by Healthwatch Stockton-on-Tees and Community Health Ambassadors
  • Best Practice for Project Management
    Delivered by River Tees Rediscovered

Tricia Stewart one of the original Calendar Girls, closed the Conference with a presentation about her voluntary work. She spoke of their infamous calendar, “It was a crazy idea and good for a laugh at the time”, what began as a small idea, became a huge success around the globe.

Speaking about the Conference Steve Rose said “The sector provides a key voice to those communities that need it to be heard. The Conference brings our vibrant sector together so that we can connect, learn from each other and go forward with an even stronger voice.”

Catalyst staff thoroughly enjoyed the day and welcome the feedback given. Most people said they had a relaxed and beneficial day.

Attendee at the Conference

“Really well put together, informative and enjoyable”

We appreciate that people prefer workshops to be spread throughout the day, however in order to accommodate some keynote speakers we had to make last minute agenda changes.

If you have any feedback on this year’s Conference or have any suggestions for the 2020 Conference please email or call 01642 733906.