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Community engagement will help to support the future of the voluntary sector

The voluntary sector is doing some great work in this country and key issues facing its leaders will be discussed at an inaugural conference in Milton Keynes next month.

The Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership (CVSL) at The Open University Business School is hosting the first of what is hoped will become an annual local community engagement event on Thursday 22 March.

With the first female Chair of the Scout Association, Milton Keynes-based Ann Limb CBE, one of two distinguished keynote speakers – the Founding CEO of the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI), Pauline Broomhead CBE, is the other – the day promises to be a superb learning experience and networking opportunity.

Ann, who was awarded an honorary degree by The Open University in October 2017, is delighted to be involved:

I feel proud to be returning to The Open University for such an important event which should really be engaging for leaders in the voluntary sector and beneficial to the local community.

I’m pleased to be talking about leadership and will focus on my belief that it’s not so much the type, size or sector of the organisation that is the key determinant of the nature and style of effective organisational leadership. It’s more a question of the personality and character of the leader, combined with the prevailing culture and ethics in the individual organisation and across wider society.

Ann Limb CBE

Professor Siv Vangen, the Centre’s Founding Director and current Chair, will open the conference and will be joined by her colleagues, Dr Owain Smolović-Jones and Centre Director Dr James Rees. There will also be interactive afternoon workshops to discuss key issues facing leaders in the voluntary sector plus a panel discussion.

The action-packed programme also boasts the debut screening of a documentary, An asylum seeker's story: Collective leadership in diverse communities, which has been part funded by the Centre. This tells the story of an asylum seeker setting up English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes in a diverse community in the West Midlands.

Research Fellow Dr Vita Terry, who researched asylum seeker and refugee third sector organisations for her PhD, jointly researched and produced the film which is hoped will be screened at film festivals and other conferences throughout the year:

Our film shows that by initiating a shared vision, resources are mobilised to help the creation of a bottom-up approach to collective leadership within the community. This collective leadership explains the establishment and growth of these classes.

Dr Vita Terry

The conference, Putting leadership and collaboration into practice in a changing voluntary sector, is taking place at The Hub Lecture Theatre at The Open University Campus, Milton Keynes on Thursday 22 March from 09:45 – 16:15, followed by a chance to enjoy networking drinks and a canapés reception.

Places are limited so it is advisable to book as soon as possible – more information on how to book, as well as the conference programme and speakers, is available here. Although you are encouraged to attend in person, the morning’s events are also being livestreamed.

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