Well…How about that for a different Saturday!!??
The day started early with a 5.30 wakeup call in Lisburn to make my flight at City Airport, and after a smooth commute it was in to East Midlands for a relaxed bus ride to Nottingham city centre.
Upon arrival at Antenna, I had the opportunity to catch up with some good friends and get introduced to some new people from JCI Edinburgh
and, JCI Cambridge
and JCI Rotheram
The day begin in typically explosive fashion with a warm welcome from JCI UK President, Ben Hawley
followed by the keynote speaker – Ruth Daniels, from ‘In Place of War’.
Ruth treated us to a presentation on the work of the organisation, including several videos showing the impact of their work in Africa and South America. IPOW attempts to create opportunities for young people in communities affected by conflict through the creative arts. One particular account moved us by telling the story of young men from Columbia, who admitted if it wasn’t for hip hop they would be dead due to the otherwise all consuming nature of gangland violence – An incredible story and way to start the conference.
Following Ruth we saw the presentation of Pound a Day and ACE certificates for 2017. The JCI ‘Pound a Day’ challenge
encourages JCI members to live on £1 per day for 1 week at the beginning of the year to raise awareness of poverty and families where that is unfortuantely a fact of life. The ACE certificates were awarded for volunteer hours registered throughout the year – Once again it was incredibly humbling to see the amount of time some people are prepared to give up for the benefit of others.
Next, it was Katie Ogley’s turn to give us an update on JCI UK National Convention 2018
this November in Doncaster. Katie was able to reveal a few more details, including a very exciting opportunity to use VR to try and land a plane in Doncaster airport!! Cool!! We are definitely looking forward to that one!
After a short break the delegates took part in some ‘speed networking’, for those who have not taken part in that before think speed dating but more business cards! I think we all had the opportunity to pretty much meet the 70+ delegates in under 20 minutes! I never realised so many people had never been to Northern Ireland!!
Following a delicious lunch (nice work on the veggie option) two ex-national presidents – Julie Lea & Alison Cowell told us more about the JCI UK Foundation,which provides funding to chambers and individuals to go on trips or create projects around the country. The process is really straightforward and is something we will be looking in to in more detail in Belfast going forward.
It was the turn of Phoebe Benta next who marched (lol not really) us all out on to the streets of Nottingham for a dry run of World Cleanup day
later this year, a project Belfast are very excited about taking to our community. Staying on the projects theme we finished by getting in to groups and using the Sustainable Development Goals framework to create a project idea with other members – A really worthwhile exercise and a good way for us to think about designing projects in the future.
As a early evening flight awaited me back at East Midlands it was a quick goodbye but a great conference and brilliant to get re-energised heading back to Belfast’s sunny shores! Thanks to all involved for organising.
By William Redpath, JCI Belfast Local President