Grass roots get to grips with ‘Big’ changes

Pictured are Andy Goff, Sophie Stockdale, Steph Booth and John Lockhart
Pictured are Andy Goff, Sophie Stockdale, Steph Booth and John Lockhart

AROUND 80 people attended the “Small Community - Big Society” one-day conference at Todmorden Town Hall last weekend.

Including workshops and guest speakers Paul Schofield, of the Cabinet Office, and former minister, Labour MP Hazel Blears, the aim of the conference, which also drew in visitors from neighbouring townships and further afield, was to look at how grass roots community groups will be affected by the new Localism Bill and the Big Society agenda.

Steph Booth, of Policyworks, which had organised the conference along with Involve, said it had been felt that grassroots groups which were so important had not yet been given a lot of help in facing the changes, something the conference set out to tackle.

“It is important to feel included and we have had a lot of positive feedback.”

Todmorden town councillor John Lockhart was among those attending and felt it had gone well.

“In a sense the Big Society has always been with us and localism’s time has come. The key thing was that the conference was aimed at grass roots groups, because the fear is that national charities will scoop everything.

“The conference has helped make people aware they need to get their acts together and start organising locally and to network.”

For example, groups in neighbouring towns could get together and may have the assets and expertise between them to run something professionally, he said.