Saturday 3rd February saw our very first conference for all volunteers in our sport, funded by Spirit of 2012, take place in the University of Birmingham’s Great Hall.
Volunteers from all areas of the Athletics and Running community came together to grow, learn, share and celebrate with one another at our first Team Spirit Conference. This event also saw the launch of Birmingham 2018's World Indoor Championships Community Outreach Project.
Ruby the Red Panda added herself to an all-star line up that already included our fantastic host Donna Fraser, Mark Russell from The Art of Brilliance, and Denise Larrad, winner of the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award 2017. We were also honoured to be joined by Swati Patel, Board Member of Spirit of 2012, and an Athletics volunteer herself.
England Athletics’ Chief Executive Chris Jones took the role of first speaker of the day, noting the importance of volunteering to the organisation: “I was delighted and humbled to be asked to speak at this inaugural conference, and I hope that it becomes an established event in the athletics and running development calendar. Without volunteers our sport would cease to exist. It really is that important. It was great to be able to talk with, and listen to, a number of those people who are making a real difference to the lives of athletes and runners of all abilities in our member clubs, and communities across England. It is important that England Athletics does what it can, with the resources we have, to make the experience of volunteers more enjoyable. The Team Spirit conference was a step in the right direction and there were some fantastic ideas shared during the day which we will take away and apply with this goal in mind."
Over 170 people filled the room from across the country, attending workshops that varied from 'Building resilience and managing stress', 'The Power of Mindfulness' and 'Having Difficult Conversations', through to 'How to create an inclusive environment', 'How to get the most from involving young people with volunteering' and 'Fundraising skills development'.
"A fantastic day, thank you so much to all involved," fed back conference attendee Zoë Wall through the Team Spirit Facebook page, and she was joined in her high praise by Alison McAdams, who said, "I came away with some concrete plans / changes about what I'll do when I am next volunteering and felt my commitment to volunteering was reinforced."
Following a fantastic full day of activity, conversations and fun, an informal celebration was held for volunteers to celebrate with their fellow volunteers and share their achievements: "The whole event was so nice," said Margaret Connarty, "It was also the little touches like the handwritten postcard received in the post and the posh nibbles at the end."
Special thanks must of course be given to all our event helpers on the day, including (but not exclusive to) our workshop leaders: Mandy Rutter, Tina Chantrey, Jaz Bangerh, Carwyn Young, Gemma Mason, Amy Weaver Tyler, Liz Purbrick, Jane Stewart, Emma Davenport, Julian Starkey and our fantastic Youth Panel and of course to our wonderful host, Donna Fraser.