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We held #TheFinalConnects at the East Midlands Conference Centre on 27 and 28 October 2023.

Connects is our biggest event of the year, bringing people from across the Big Local programme together to reconnect, build new networks and learn from each other’s experiences of delivering resident-led change.

With the Big Local programme now in its final phase, the 2023 event was our last Connects – celebrating the achievements of the Big Local programme as well as looking ahead to what comes next.

Download the event programme

A selection of presentations from the event are available to download below. You can also:

Got a brilliant memory, learning or experience from Connects 2023 to tell us about? Share it on social media using #TheFinalConnects!


Welcome, opening session and keynote

Speakers: Matt Leach (Local Trust), Marcellus Baz (Switch Up)

Download the presentation from our keynote speaker, Marcellus Baz BEM, founder and chief executive of Switch Up. His organisation works with Nottinghamshire’s most disadvantaged and deprived communities affected by crime and violence. Switch Up empowers young people, through their award-winning five pillar model, supporting them into employment, training, and education.

Download Marcellus’ presentation [PDF] >

Media masterclass with community communications expert

Speaker: Peg Alexander 

Keen for more people to hear about the amazing achievements of your Big Local? Want to bag a journalist to come along to your upcoming event? Interested in upskilling yourself to become a confident community spokesperson? This media masterclass from Peg Alexander, a communications expert, explored how to get local journalists on side, how to find a story hook the media can’t resist and some tips and tricks for becoming more confident with public speaking. 

Download tips and tricks for sharing your Big Local story with the media [PDF] > 

Our volunteer journeys: past, present and future

Speaker: Sheetal Mistry, Koreo

As Big Local begins to wind down, it can be easy to forget about the incredible skills you’ve developed as a volunteer, and how you can use these skills for the next step in your volunteer journey. Download the presentation from this session, to reflect on how far you’ve come and what you might want to focus on next.

Download Koreo’s presentation [PDF] >

The power of evaluation to influence local authorities and funders

Speakers: Loretta Allen and Zoe Edwards, Wormley and Turnford Big Local

In this session, we heard from Wormley and Turnford Big Local about the power of using evaluation to strengthen their funding applications. They shared how they’ve influenced local authorities and organisations by showcasing their impact. We also learnt how to evidence positive changes you’ve made in your community, so you’re in a stronger position for your future beyond Big Local.

Download Wormley and Turnford’s presentation [PDF] >

Download example of other Big Local areas using evaluation [PDF] >

Communities taking control – democratic models of community ownership of assets, businesses and services

Speaker: Dan Stanley, Stir to Action

With an uncertain economic future, declining levels of participation in civil society, and the loss of community assets, we need to explore the role of other models of ownership for social infrastructure, key businesses, and essential services. Democratic ownership has a long tradition of creating and protecting social infrastructure and businesses, to make sure they meet the social and economic needs of local communities. Download the presentation from this session to understand more about these ownership models, explore how they work in different communities and sectors, and the potential benefits for your Big Local area and its legacy.

Download Stir to Action’s presentation [PDF] >

Get your copy of The ABCs of the New Economy, a new guide to inspire existing and new movements for local economic change, on the Stir to Action website >

Moving beyond the foodbank

Speakers: Courtney Scott, Food, Farming and Countryside Commission and Denise Bentley, First Love Foundation 

In this session, we heard the inspiring story behind First Love Foundation’s ‘more than food’ approach in Tower Hamlets, as well as key learnings to help you strengthen your own food project. 

Download the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission presentation [PDF] > 

Download the First Love Foundation presentation [PDF] > 

Panel discussion – Powerful endings

Speakers: Immy Kaur from Impact Hub Birmingham and Oli Whittington from Shift

This session offered an opportunity to reflect back on the amazing achievements, failures to learn from and challenges overcome through the lifespan of Big Local and explored what it means to end the programme positively. We heard from Immy Kaur about the value of good endings and her experience of the end of Impact Hub Birmingham and Oli Whittington from Shift shared initial findings from their research into what Big Local volunteers feel they need to end the programme well.

Download the powerful endings presentation [PDF] >

Where are they now? Revisiting Big Local stories with our former journalists-at-large

Speaker: Louise Tickle, former Local Trust journalist-at-large

We joined Louise for a trip down memory lane, as she interviewed Big Local areas she visited during her time as Local Trust’s journalist-at-large, to explore what happened next in their stories.

Download Louise’s presentation [PDF] >


Welcome and panel discussion – Powerful futures

Speakers: Matt Bell, Plymouth Octopus and Ruth Taylor, Common Cause Foundation

When we consider the future, we often think about what needs to be done and the finance needed to deliver. This session took a step back to explore what we need as individuals within our communities to be able to prepare for and respond to the challenges and uncertainty of the future. We heard from a range of speakers who encouraged us to explore the unique strengths and talents that each of us hold and shared ideas for how to protect and develop these as we collectively contribute to a future with stronger, more resilient communities.

Download the powerful futures presentation [PDF] >

Reflecting on your Big Local journey: Some practical tools to takeaway

Speakers: Helen Garforth and Richard Usher, Just Ideas 

In this session, we took a deep dive into the tools that can help your partnership reflect on your achievements, how you have worked together and with others and what you have learnt. 

Download the Just Ideas presentation [PDF] >  

Sustaining your role – the secret to maintaining a grant distribution approach in your Big Local area

Speaker: Dave Brennan, Castle Cavendish

This workshop explored Castle Cavendish’s developing role as an Area Lead Organisation in the central part of Nottingham, where it uses its expertise, its knowledge and its relationships with trusted Voluntary Community Sector (VCS) delivery partners to access funds from Nottingham City Council and support a £500k community grant programme.

Download the sustaining your role presentation [PDF] >

Big Local failures, frustrations and rising to the challenge of the programme

Speaker: Joanna Jowett, FailSpace

The last decade has been one of extreme change and uncertainty, making community-led change challenging. This session was an invitation to express your frustrations about plans not met, the barriers you have faced and how you have met them. We also committed time to look at the positives, including those successes that might be less obvious (but just as important) to the wider community.

Download the FailSpace presentation [PDF] >

Key steps to building an inclusive culture in your partnership

Speaker: Advita Patel

In this session, we explored the key steps to building a culture of inclusivity within your partnership and everyday work. We left the session with a clearer understanding of how bias can impact your decision making, the importance of trust, as well as practical tools to apply learning beyond the session.

Download the inclusive culture presentation [PDF] >

Where are they now? Revisiting Big Local stories with our former journalists-at-large

Speaker: Ryan Herman, former Local Trust journalist-at-large

We joined Ryan for a trip down memory lane, as he interviewed Big Local areas he visited during his time as Local Trust’s journalist-at-large, to explore what happened next in their stories.

Download Ryan’s presentation [PDF] >