Saturday 21st February 2015 (registration from 9.00 a.m.)
Easterbrook Hall, Crichton Campus, Dumfries DG1 4TA
The Conference is completely free of charge to attend, and is open to anyone interested in learning how to engage effectively with MSPs and the Parliament. Lunch and refreshments are provided free of charge and we are even able to reimburse travel costs for attendees.
The day will consist of seven different workshops, each an hour in duration, and each being run four times during the course of the day. The workshops are:
‘Help Me to Help You’: an MSPs View
This workshop will provide an insight into what MSPs can (and can’t) do in order to help their constituents. Elaine Murray MSP* and Alex Fergusson MSP* will describe the wide range of issues MSPs typically deal with and the sort of outcomes you can reasonably expect.
Engaging Through Committees
Can engaging with committees really make a difference? How can local communities influence the work of Scottish Parliament committees? What sort of issues are suitable to bring to a committee?
Holding an Event or Exhibition at Holyrood
This workshop, chaired by Lindsey Davey, Events Manager at Holyrood, will look at a range of ways in which community groups, voluntary organisations, local campaign groups, social enterprises etc. can bring their issue to the attention of MSPs.
Cross Party Groups
Cross-Party Groups (CPGs) provide an opportunity for MSPs of all parties, outside organisations and members of the public to meet and discuss a shared interest in a particular cause or subject. This workshop will be chaired by Graeme Pearson MSP.
Examining the various ways in which social / online media such as web-sites, blogs, FaceBook, Twitter etc – can be used to support a campaign issue.
Working with Local Media
This workshop will offer practical advice on how to use local media to make a difference in your campaign or issue. What are newspapers and radio stations looking for in a news story? How do local journalists decide what makes a ‘good’ story?
How to Submit a Public Petition
What makes a ’successful’ petition? Public petitions are one of the most high-profiles ways in which to engage directly with the Parliament. Chaired by John Wilson MSP from the Public Petitions Committee (PPC), this workshop will look at the role of the PPC – the only committee whose business is driven by the public.
I should stress that the conference is not a party political event at all. The workshops are entirely practical in focus, aimed at ‘skilling up’ local communities in how to engage with their MSPs and their Parliament. Also, the workshops will be chaired by MSPs from all the main parties represented at Holyrood.
We are very keen to widen uptake to include organisations and individuals from the arts and culture sector, as we feel we need to do more to represent this sector in the Parliament’s business and decisions. We are very excited about coming to Dumfries and are keen to have representatives from across the SW region attend what promises to be a useful, lively and enjoyable event.
All workshops will run four times through the day:
Most workshops will be chaired by an MSP, and most will be assisted by co-panellists, including Parliament staff and, where appropriate, external ‘experts’ who have experience of the engagement route under discussion.
The purpose of the workshop sessions is to allow attendees to focus in more detail on specific practical aspects of engagement and participation. The workshop sessions are an opportunity to hear from people who have had direct experience of these means of engagement and who are able to advise on how best to use these to raise your issue and get it onto the parliamentary radar.
If you would like to attend the Communities Conference, please email Alice Noble at the Scottish Parliament on firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the workshops you would like to attend.
You can attend four of seven workshops across the day.
Please note, workshop places are allocated on a ‘first come’ basis. We cannot hold places for workshops, as demand is sure to be very high. Therefore we require named individuals in order to book a place.
Registration is from 9.00a.m with formal start at 9.45a.m. The event will end at 3.30 p.m.