Together in the same (virtual) space

Helen Blackman
Monday, October 5, 2020

Many of you, like me, will have had several key dates fixed in the diary well before lockdown or home working became the new normal.

Budget planning meetings, annual appraisals or dentist appointments quickly fill our time, and although we are probably quite glad to see some of the more mundane commitments postponed or cancelled, there are some weeks of the year we genuinely look forward to.

On November 4th this year’s National Children and Adult Service Conference will begin, albeit virtually, and I for one am delighted to see it is still going ahead. Whilst we may not be congregating in Manchester, we will be embracing our new way of working with the opportunity to engage in a series of online webinars held over the three days of conference.

There will be a mix of plenary and sub-plenary sessions where we will hear from prominent figures in the children, adult and education sectors, but this year we can enjoy these from the comfort of our desk – wherever that is currently situated!

Opportunities to share learning from one another are always greatly received, but this year it feels especially important. The conference provides the opportunity to hear from Ministers and collectively push our asks of government.

As a sector we have shown amazing strength over the past six months to keep the show on the road and ensure that children and young people are kept safe.

It therefore feels only right that we come together in the same (virtual) space to acknowledge what we have achieved and to discuss what we will need in the future. Covid-19 has highlighted and exposed many of the problems we have been working against, such as child poverty, domestic abuse or mental ill-health, and as a sector, we must keep highlighting these problems and inequalities, and urge government to take meaningful long-term action.

Like many of you, I was hugely impressed with the ADCS annual conference in July which also took place virtually, and although it was disappointing not to have that chance to catch up with friends and colleagues face to face, the passion we all share for the work we do shone through in the presentations and discussion afterwards.

A lot has happened since July and the forthcoming NCAS conference offers the perfect opportunity to share ideas and learn from others, except this year we won’t have to make that mad dash from one session to another!

So I urge you all book your place and take a seat in the best seat in the house to enjoy this year’s conference. You won’t be disappointed!

Helen Blackman is assistant director at Nottingham City Council. This blog first appeared on the ADCS website.

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