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The RSA has around 50 networks of Fellows across the UK, networks that can provide opportunities to build momentum around new ideas and create innovative solutions to today's problems.

This was demonstrated to me recently in Bath, when Fellows based in the West region came together for an ideas workshop.

The best stories to get others thinking almost always come from our brilliant Fellows themselves, so the event kicked off with brief outlines of existing locally based projects.  Nicholas Garrick (Fellowship Councillor West Region), Director of Lighting up Learning, spoke about a project he is involved in called 80by18 (@80by18) a new city-wide project to mobilise Bristol's resources to help young people to thrive- whatever the future brings. It focuses on 80 experiences that all children should have by the time they are 18, not necessarily activity led but around experiences like working to a budget or opening a bank account.

Then we heard from Arabella Tresilian, Director of Therapeutic Media Company, who spoke about her work on dementia friendly cities. Whilst it is in its early stages, work has begun on developing a framework to make things easier for dementia sufferers in their communities.

Fellows then worked together in groups to discuss Nicholas and Arabella’s projects, to offer them fresh insights and a range of expertise. This vibrant session led onto a more general ideas session for the region, followed by a Catalyst surgery, where Fellows could learn about the RSA’s Catalyst scheme and the RSA West’s seed fund.

"The Ideas Cafe was great: to have a group of eager, thinking, creative people to add momentum to an idea within such a short period of time was inspiring. Comments encompassed areas of thinking that I had not even considered, from ensuring inclusivity of access of different groups of people to involving local artists and craftspeople; from engaging the scientific community to making links with local elders. As well as exposure to different avenues of thought, an expected range of commitment emerged with fellows offering time and expertise to get the project off the ground. This is what being part of the Fellowship is all about: catalysts of ideas."  Nicholas Garrick

Also in attendance was Martin Newman, RSA Digital Champion for the West - check out his storify of the event and uploaded photos onto the RSA’s flickr account.

Good ideas and potential collaborations emerging from the evening included ideas about how the RSA could get involved in a pop-up shop in Chippenham and a community arts projects in Wiltshire.

If you weren't able to attend but have a project idea for the region please get in contact with me - I can offer help and advice.  We are also planning a specific Catalyst themed event in the next few months, so keep an eye out.

Lou Matter is the Programme Manager for West and South West. You can follow her @loumatter


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