The Gathering will be held at Glasgow’s SEC from 19-20 February 2020, bringing charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups together to learn, share and celebrate the best of the voluntary sector.

Organised annually by SCVO, The Gathering attracts thousands of attendees and hundreds of event hosts and exhibitors every year, and provides a platform for charity colleagues to share knowledge and promote their work on a large scale.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will officially open the two-day event, followed by a performance by Scottish Charity Award ‘Charity of the Year’ winners Drake Music Scotlandwho use innovative inclusive music technologies to support disabled people to play music.

Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn and Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes are also scheduled to attend.

Actor, writer and composerDr Matthew McVarish will also be in attendance to officially launch his book ‘The Truth That No One Tells Teenagers’, a frank and honest sharing of essential information, cushioned in recollections of his own journey from childhood sexual abuse victim to multi-award-winning human rights activist.

He said: “I wrote this book for everyone who has suffered abuse and the people around them who care. So, I’m thrilled and deeply honoured that The Gathering will host the official book launch, as, like the book, it’s about good people coming together, giving of themselves wholeheartedly, tackling the most difficult challenges of life in Scotland today to create a brighter future for us all.”

Matthew is the International Ambassador for the Moira Anderson Foundation (MAF), a national charity dedicated to supporting those affected by childhood sexual abuse. MAF Founder Sandra Brown will bring her highly successful stage play ‘One of Our Ain to The Gathering 2020, adapted from her best-selling book ‘Where there is evil’ which is based on her own childhood and involvement in a real life situation – the tragic abduction of 11 year old Moira Anderson from Coatbridge in 1957- which is now likely Scotland’s longest unsolved cold case.

Sandra Brown said: “I’m delighted Matthew will introduce my play which will be special given the prestigious venue and that it’s the last time I’m likely to deliver it. ‘One of Our Ain’ has been on a remarkable journey since its Soho Theatre London 2005 premiere- in the UK and abroad; 15 years on, Moira’s story has been in many theatres and schools, and touched the heart of thousands, but it feels the right time to stop now as we mark our 20th anniversary of the charity. I’m sure her story will find its way next onto the screen and capture other hearts.”

Following the success of last year’s donation stand for the Trussell Trust Glasgow North West Foodbank, this year attendees have been asked to support Simon Community Scotland’s period poverty campaign by donating sanitary items for homeless women in Glasgow, as well as toiletries for homeless men.

CEO, Lorraine McGrath: “We are extremely grateful to The Gathering and its delegates for their donations in support of our Period Friendly initiative.  We are working hard to roll this initiative out across Scotland’s biggest cities and this donation means that we can go further in restoring dignity and connection to a caring society, particularly for women who desperately need free provision of period products.  We are also delighted to be exhibiting in order to tell the story of Period Friendly and share the impact it has made to date, thanks to our dedicated volunteers.”

Eden Project Communities are hosting an event – ‘Strong community bonds matter’ – and invite attendees to visit the interactive `Little Land of Big Lunches’.

Caishlan Sweeney, Eden Project Communities Scotland said: “Eden supports people to take positive actions that strengthen local connections and build stronger communities.  We’re looking forward to hosting our event evidencing the difference The Big Lunch and the creation of community bonds can make in reducing loneliness.  You will also find us in the marketplace exhibiting our interactive Little Land of Big Lunches and offering free access to our peer to peer network.”

The event itself will have a focus on health, with organisers partnering with Scottish walking charity Paths for Allto introduce ways be active during the conference.  

Paths for All’s Chief Officer, Ian Findlay CBE said: “We’re thrilled to be able to offer this year’s delegates opportunities to think about their health and wellbeing during The Gathering. As well as running a ‘step challenge’ on each day of the conference, we’re leading a short lunchtime walk for delegates to enjoy a quick break outdoors.  

“Even a short walk has huge proven benefits including reducing stress, improving focus and concentration, and reducing the risk of several serious health conditions. We hope SCVO’s efforts for a ‘Healthier Gathering’ will inspire others to recognise the importance of being active in and around the working day.”

Fun and Fit Bike will also be part of the exhibition space, offering delegates the chance to fit in some cycle time by making a pedal-powered fresh-fruit smoothie, shake or juice. The Glasgow Association of Mental Health (GAMH)will also be providing massages, and beauty treatments will be provided by the Platinum Salon from West Lothian College.

Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: “We are delighted to be bringing The Gathering to Glasgow’s SEC once again and we’re excited to offer attendees such a wide variety of events and exhibits over the two days. We’re hugely thankful to all the individuals and organisations signed up to exhibit, host an event and attend so far, and to the SEC, our partners Glasgow Convention Bureau, Social Enterprise Scotland and our sponsors Keegan & Pennykid, OSCR and CCLA for helping to make it all possible. I would encourage anyone working for a voluntary sector organisation in Scotland to take a look at the event programme & book their free place now – with over 65 events to choose from, there’s something for everyone!”  

View the full event programme and book your free place now!