Skip to Main Content

 

Are you ready? Because registration is now open for our biggest event of the year, Big Local Connects, is back and better than ever!

Open to all 150 Big Local areas, join us for two days jam-packed with celebrations, inspiration, and lots of chances to discover new skills.

We’re working on an exciting programme of sessions and workshops for you, all linked to our themes of environment, economy, society, power and planning for the future.

Look out for details of other ways you can get involved coming soon, alongside announcements about our brilliant keynote speakers, who will be sharing their experiences of making change happen in their Big Local areas.

New for this year will be the ‘Talking Tent’ space, where you can meet other Big Local residents to chat about a wide range of issues such as building strong partnerships, climate change and community engagement.

There will also be plenty of time to relax in our wellness space, get the latest news in the Extra Local newspaper, enjoy delicious food and explore the Ideas Hub.

Head to the Eventbrite page to sign up for your ticket now!

Got questions? Check out our FAQs page.

 

Schedule

DAY
Friday
Saturday

Building an identity for your community

session
Speakers Charlie Fox and Cara Thorpe (Newington Big Local partnership) and Ryan Tym (Lantern Agency)

A session to explore how Big Local areas can challenge external perceptions of their area by reclaiming the narrative of their neighbourhood. Newington Big Local will give a presentation on the project they worked on with a design agency to produce a set of graphics and slogans to help redefine their community.

Theme: Society

Thinking and acting beyond 2026

session
Speaker Graham Leicester (International Futures Forum)

Struggling to connect your long term aspirations with what you’re doing and planning in your partnership today? Join Graham in this interactive session to help boost your ability to think and talk about the future.

Theme: Planning for the future

Community Power Panel

session
Speakers Anna Francis (Portland Inn Project), Angela Fell (Movement for Neighbourhood Democracy), and Alejandra Bravo (Powerlab)

From Stoke-on-Trent to Los Angeles to Canada and back again, there is growing momentum behind the idea that power and decision-making should be shifted to the communities that know their local areas best. Join this session to hear the stories and experiences of community-led groups and organisations in the UK, US and Canada who are building economic and democratic power in their areas and neighbourhoods.

Theme: Power

Evaluating the future

session
Speaker Anousheh Haghdadi (Beatfreeks)

Working with poet Bohdan Piasecki, we will creatively answer the question: How do we imagine our communities in 100 years’ time?* (*if you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like an evaluation question – we hope to persuade you otherwise…) By the end of the session we will have explored:

  • the benefits of evaluating creatively
  • some simple evaluation methods
  • how you can access support with your own evaluations through the Measuring Change support programme.
Theme: Planning for the future

Handmade Parade

drop-in

A team of artists giving you the chance to get your creative juices flowing with some arts and crafts, and contribute to Big Local Connects’ art installation. There will be plenty of different hands-on activities to get stuck in to if you fancy a break from the sessions and talks.

Theme: Creativity

To hub or not to hub?

session
Speakers Mick McGrath (Locality)

That is the question. If it’s one that your partnership is pondering then this session is for you. You will come away with practical tips, tools and ideas to consider before developing your community hub plans.

Theme: Planning for the future

The power of ordinary spaces

session
Speaker John Hannah (Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO))

Come along to this session to hear how to make your ‘ordinary’ shared space ‘extraordinary’. Discover how these spaces can help connect different people and build community resilience.

Theme: Society

What are communities doing with food?

session
Speakers Anna Hunter and Kayleigh Oliver (Tang Hall), Jo Scott and Charlotte Jones (Selby Town) and Bob Bowen (Clubmoor)lby Town), Bob Bowen (Clubmoor)

Three Big Local partnerships reveal how they successfully set up their neighbourhood food projects, including a community fridge, cookery classes and healthy meals delivery.

Theme: Society

Youth Forum

session
Speakers from Heston West Big Local, Allenton Big Local, and Marsh and Micklefield Big Local

Following on from the success of the first Youth Forum we’re excited to bring it back in 2021. Young people from Big Local areas across the country will be discussing their hopes for the future and what change they’d like to see, locally and globally. You’ll have a chance to quiz the panel and they’ll be turning the table on you too to ignite an exciting debate.

Theme: Planning for the future

Community rather than loan sharks: how can Big Local provide alternatives to illegal money lending?

session
Speakers Steve Ward (England Illegal Money Lending) and Roger Read (Withernsea Big Local)

Cracking down on loan sharks is no easy task. The England Illegal Money Lending Team will be revealing how their work is helping communities to do just that. They’ll be joined by Withernsea Big Local who telling us about their successful partnership with their Credit Union.

Theme: Society

Read all about it: telling your story to the media

session
Speaker Harriet Marsden (Local Trust's Journalist-at-large)

Want to share your successes far and wide? Keen to get your story in local, regional or even national media? Join our journalist-at-large Harriet Marsden as she guides you through the steps of spotting, developing and pitching a story to the media. She’ll lift the lid on tips of the trade and give an insight into what journalists are looking for, to make it easy for you to reach out and tell your community’s story.

Theme: Society

Communities in control: the power of Big Local

session
Speaker Jennie Popay (Lancaster University)

Has Big Local given your community more power and control over the decisions that matter to you? Join Jennie for a chance to hear brand new findings from Communities in Control, a major study of 15 Big Local areas about how Big Local partnerships have been improving health, lives and wellbeing in their neighbourhoods.

Theme: Power

Big Local and inclusion - how to include more people in partnerships and Big Local

session
Speakers Imrana Niazi from Palfrey Big Local and Asif Afridi from brap

One of the fundamental values of Big Local is that it is inclusive and welcoming to everyone. However, many Big Local partnerships find it challenging to engage with all parts of their community. In this interactive session, Palfrey Big Local and brap offer key advice and tips on how to get more people involved.

Theme: Power

Handmade Parade

drop-in

A team of artists giving you the chance to get your creative juices flowing with some arts and crafts, and contribute to Big Local Connects’ art installation. There will be plenty of different hands-on activities to get stuck in to if you fancy a break from the sessions and talks.

Theme: Creativity

The impact of green spaces on mental health

session
Speaker Annie Berrington (Get Out More)

Come along to this interactive session to try out some creative ways to engage with your local green space and feel the positive impact being outside can have on your mental health.

Theme: Society

Building a fairer economy post-COVID

session
Speaker Steve Toft

What does the future hold for the economy and the UK workforce and how will this affect your community? Come along for a discussion about how you can manage the risks and reap the rewards of change.

Theme: Society

Banish those hindering thoughts

session
Speaker Deanna Wildgoose (TH!NKFC)

A fun and practical way to get people thinking more positively – this afternoon we’ll be sharing a fun tool to take away and a game you can play!

Theme: Planning for the future

Reimagining your high street

session
Speakers Frances Northrup (NCF)

High streets, parades of shops and local centres have been in decline for decades, but there are a growing number of great examples around the country of ways communities have repurposed these spaces to bring life back into their local area. Come along and be inspired, share experiences and discover what you can do.

Theme: Economy

Hybrid meetings: what, why and how (and how not)

session
Speakers Helen Garforth and Richard Usher from Just Ideas

As restrictions ease, everyone’s talking about hybrid meetings – but what does this mean and how do you do it successfully? Some of us love being in a real room together, others get their buzz from Zoom… To make sure there’s something for everyone in your Big Local, is a hybrid meeting the way forward? This session is an opportunity to come together to explore what works and what doesn’t, share your experience, and come away with top tips and practical advice on how to make meetings where some join online, and others are ‘in the room’ accessible, inclusive, and fun. We’ll discuss some of the challenges and learn about the technology available, making it easier to bring members together and keep the community connected in a way that suits all.

Theme: Planning for the future