Beth Mukushi looks ahead to the return of THE major marker in the voluntary sector calendar
The biggest voluntary sector event in the UK, the Gathering, means different things to us all.
We bring our personal experiences (and a dose of nerves) when we walk up to the SEC doors to join the buzz - for me that includes memories of getting my wee girl started in the Scottish voluntary sector when she was just a baby.
Just before covid hit, SCVO ran one of the most successful Gatherings for many years.
A 2020 attendee said: “It felt like one of the best ones ever and the buzz was great. There was super networking. I get the sense that the Scottish Govt and others are now seeing it as THE place and time to engage with the sector which makes it doubly valuable - not just a time for us to talk to ourselves, important thought that is. It clearly attracts different people from within the sector - I encountered trustees, volunteers, junior staff . From being a Gathering sceptic when it first started all those years ago I think you've turned it into a ‘must do’ event. Well done.”
We decided to go ahead with a large scale in-person event this year after speaking to our members and previous event hosts. Lots of the people we spoke to were enthusiastic about the chance to be together again, to celebrate and support each other, after two tough years.
It is hard to believe we took that decision over nine months ago. Next week on 15 June the doors will open, and the Gathering 2022 will get underway.
I have had the chance to see the work that goes into pulling off an event on this scale in detail this year. It has been eye-opening - deadlines for finalising the programme, ordering furniture and launching registrations flew towards us at an amazing speed.
I’m very proud of the work my colleagues have put in to creating a programme with depth and variety. Over 65 different organisations are hosting sessions to shape thinking, showcase the sector and share skills.
As well as providing space for the sector to come together, SCVO is directly running 16 sessions this year. We have focused on speakers that can help to provoke new thinking, and topics that provide practical support.
If you haven’t seen the programme yet, look out for sessions on the climate crisis, institutional racism, fair funding, digital wellbeing, and two different perspectives on the UK government. We are bringing speakers from the ICO, legal firms, funders and the media to share their tips, and our own digital and policy teams will be setting the agenda for our work in the coming year.
As we are not having an exhibition this year, we have put extra effort into creating a space for connecting with people, and enjoying yourself.
Once you arrive our event volunteers can point you towards art experiences, mindfulness, wish and memory trees, organised walks and a voluntary sector cinema.
There will be plenty space to meet people for a coffee and catch up, and quiet areas for anyone who needs a break from the bustle.
It is going to be big and busy, and I’m so excited now that it is nearly here. Free for anyone to attend, and although some events are fully booked it’s not too late to register if you haven’t already.
I’ll be floating about in the connections café both days so come and say hi - I can’t wait to see you soon.
Beth Mukushi is SCVO’s head of support services.