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The West regional team were keen to explore the RSA’s role as a ‘critical friend’ through their Annual Conference.  On the night we were able to use this theme and look at how the RSA can work as a “critical friend” with partnerships, projects and initiatives and delivered what I hope was an interesting and thought provoking conference.

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The Conference was hosted by Fellowship Councillor, Allan Bosley at Hartham Park, Corsham. We were blessed with a beautiful summers evening and were pleased to have about 50 Fellows gathered together.  As an introduction to the evening we were given a brief history of Hartham Park, whose story includes visits from both Byron and Winston Churchill.

The evening then began with a series of lightening talks around the RSA’s core themes arts; manufacturing and commerce. The talks were given by Lauren Scholey from the Tobacco Factory and Terry Lockwood, Paravail Telecom.  Lauren spoke about work the Tobacco Factory has undertaken from its inception in collaborating closely with the local community and making the community an integral part of the building and its uses, along with striving to regenerate the area.  Terry described his work as a telecoms consultant and where his employment journey has led him through the years.  He also spoke about how the RSA should engage more with commerce and manufacturing.

— Michael Ambjorn (@michaelambjorn) July 18, 2013

Over the next three years, staff from the RSA’s Action Research Centre will be on the ground in Wiltshire as ‘critical friends’ - learning partners, providing support and challenge for the programme. 

 

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Next up, was Paul Buddery from RSA ARC, officially launching the RSA Wiltshire project.  He explained how Wiltshire Council and its partners are changing how public services are delivered and controlled.  They are establishing ‘Community Campuses’ – which are multi-service hubs, designed and led by local communities.  Over the next three years, staff from the RSA’s Action Research Centre will be on the ground in Wiltshire as ‘critical friends’ - learning partners, providing support and challenge for the programme.   Community Campuses provide an exciting opportunity for Fellows to be involved in civic improvement, sharing skills with local communities.  If you would like to be involved with the RSA in this programme, please contact me (see below).

Fellows then heard from projects which have been funded in the region, both of which I have blogged about in the last few months, giving an update of their activities; Making our Futures, led by Ted Fowler, also Bristol Story Lab, led by Jon Kennard and Sam Taylor.

— Wiard Sterk (@wiardsterk) July 18, 2013

There was then time for Fellows to get to network and make connections, which is how such projects are initiated.  There are also avenues available to apply for seed funding for projects, through the RSA’s Catalyst scheme and West seed fund

Finally, we were pleased to have the RSA West’s digital champion, Martin Newman attending who produced a social media summary of the event and has posted numerous pictures on the RSA's Flickr site (some of which are being used in this blog).

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

 

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