There’s been much in the last year to remind us of how fragile we are.
How the world we take for granted – its systems, structures, and relationships – can buckle so quickly.
When New Local’s flagship event Stronger Things was last held in person two years ago, we were about to be jolted into a new, COVID-fuelled, reality. As we return in 2022 there are enduring challenges as well as whole new catastrophes to grapple with. And that’s why it’s so important to take the time and space to imagine how things could be stronger.
This year’s Stronger Things will be bigger than ever, spanning two days and hosting (at today’s count) almost 1,400 participants. Our speakers are also more exciting than ever. MPs Jess Phillips, Danny Kruger and West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin will cross party benches to debate the question: ‘What would politics look like if people really mattered?’ The young anarchist Audrey Tang (who also happens to be Taiwan’s Digital Minister) will discuss her story of a world-leading digital response to COVID-19. Fiona Hill will share her journey from a coal miner’s daughter in County Durham, to advising – and then testifying against - Donald Trump. And one of the country’s top prosecutors Nazir Afzal will discuss his backing of marginalised communities – whatever the controversy.
As you’d expect, Stronger Things is the place for the latest thinking and practice around community power – from grassroots changemakers leading the national We’re Right Here campaign, to Newham’s pioneering mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, to seasoned community builders like Cormac Russell.
We’ll also be expanding our attention into the health world. Our own chair Donna Hall and NHS England’s Participation Head Olivia Butterworth will discuss how the NHS could benefit from a healthy dose of community power – and what it has to learn from – and alongside - local government.
But it’s not just about listening. The two days are bursting with interactive breakouts – from New Local’s own ‘60-minute community power makeover’ to PPL’s workshop on building partnerships that cross councils, healthcare and communities, to TPXImpact on how organisations can take their citizen engagement to the next level.
Meanwhile, our brand new ‘Town Square’ and its stalls give the chance to mingle between new ideas and initiatives. And they offer a chance to do what many of us have been desperately missing – meet people face to face, make unexpected connections, bump into old friends, and feel energised about what we’re doing and who we’re doing it alongside.
Thanks to our partners, Stronger Things is once again free for the public and voluntary sectors to attend this year. To make the most of it – and the opportunities to connect – I’d really recommend you come in person to London’s (pretty magnificent) Guildhall. But if you can’t make it – we’re also running the event in parallel online.
This year, more than ever, I look forward to seeing you and building stronger things together.
Adam Lent is chief executive of New Local
Stronger Things will take place on 29 and 30 March 2022 at London’s Guildhall and online. It is supported by The MJ, TPXImpact, Power to Change, Norse Group, PPL and City of London. Get your free ticket here