Campaigning, comms & collaborating: the latest SSE fellows’ event in Liverpool

27 Nov 2019

We’ve been running events for the SSE fellows’ community throughout this year, to deepen the connections and learning people gain from our programmes. Our latest event was in Liverpool, hosted by SSE North West…

Social Enterprise Day (21st November) was a day to celebrate success in our sector and shine a light on the amazing work happening at social enterprises everywhere. We marked it with an event for our SSE fellows’ community and others working in the wonderful world of social impact – at Blackburne House, one of Merseyside’s longest-established social enterprises.

We know that building new networks is one of the most valued aspects of our programmes among our students and SSE fellows. And SSE fellows have told us that, like the social enterprise sector at large, SSE fellows sometimes struggle to reach the people they need to and to tell the story of the great work they do.

So the purpose of the event was to focus on: “Campaigning, communicating and collaborating: get the attention you need for the work you believe in.

The event was by turns buzzing, brimming with energy, and deeply moving.

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillborough Family Support Group, opened with an incredibly powerful keynote about her and the families’ 30-year fight for justice for the 96. She highlighted the importance of working as a collective and a community, and urged all of us battling injustices:

“Never give up – keep fighting, and be strong.”

The 50+ attendees had the chance to dive into learning around specific comms, marketing and political engagement questions through a panel discussion with: Gary Hart, Senior Education and Engagement Officer at UK Parliament; Dave Verburg, SSE fellow and networking guru; and Sophie Hobson, SSE’s head of communications.

Learning manager Cathy Varley’s flawless facilitation skills maintained energy and pace. Sophie ran a session of ‘collaboration bingo’, where guests were encouraged to seek out others in the room to help each other out with specific challenges, and to arrange further meet-ups for potential collaboration. Our fellows weren’t shy, and plenty of chatter filled the room!  Tom Barratt, director of development and external affairs, made a speech explaining how SSE social partners could support SSE fellows through the Fellows Future Fund.

A photo of Lisa Mairah making a speech

Lisa Mairah, head of SSE North West

Lisa Mairah, head of SSE North West, concluded with a rousing round-up of key insights from the evening. She reminded guests that SSE is all about the people, and that the attendees and SSE are perfectly placed to create change because:

“We know our people, we know our communities.”

She then opened the floor for SSE fellows to ask for and share offers of support with specific projects in an open marketplace, ensuring that conversations were buzzing as the evening segued into networking.

Guests were fuelled by some delicious food from social enterprise Blackburne House Bistro, and SSE fellow Farm Urban donated a box of their Feed the Future Greens to celebrate the launch of their new Kickstarter campaign.

It was a truly inspiring and energising evening, excellently executed by the SSE North West team. This quote from an SSE fellow perfectly sums it up:

“I didn’t really know what being a fellow meant – but tonight, I understand it. It really means something to be part of this community. We need more events like this!”

Next steps for the fellows community

Guests were encouraged to share ideas to the question: “What should SSE do in the next year to help you collaborate and connect with other fellows from across the network?”

If you’re an SSE fellow and this sparks an idea for you, share it with Kylie at [email protected]. We’ll keep you posted with next steps!