The Gathering, organised by SCVO, is the largest voluntary sector event in the UK. Over two days on 15 and 16 June 2022, more than 1,500 amazing people from the voluntary sector and beyond came together at Glasgow's SEC to enjoy a packed programme of over 80 workshops, seminars, and training sessions. The Gathering was a chance for people to network and connect, showcase work, to learn from each other and to inspire and be inspired.
SCVO Convener, Andrew Burns, welcomes delegates to the Gathering 2022
Together with Trees for life, the SEC planted a grove of trees on behalf of SCVO to help re-wild the Scottish Highlands, providing space for wildlife to flourish and communities to thrive
Climate change is having a devastating impact on our planet
Our graphic artist, The Floating Designer, with a graphic capture of the Gathering
Delegates taking part in one of 80+ sessions at the Gathering
Over 65 different organisations hosted 80+ sessions to shape thinking, showcase the sector and share skills. As well as welcoming hosts from across the sector to the Gathering, SCVO teams ran 16 sessions this year. We focused on speakers that can help to provoke new thinking, and topics to provide practical support.
The programme included sessions on the climate crisis, institutional racism, fair funding, digital wellbeing, and we heard from both the Scottish and UK governments. We brought speakers from the ICO, legal firms, funders and the media to share their tips, and our own digital and policy teams set out the agenda for SCVO's own work in the coming year.
This year we had more space than ever before for networking and we designed the 2022 Gathering programme with plenty of breaks including thirty minutes in the morning and afternoon, and two hours for lunch. There was plenty to do during breaks. Our Connections Café hosted gentle activities like art, singing, meditation and group walks and we made sure there was lots of space available to grab a coffee and have a chat.
At the community centre on SCVO Street, we asked delegates to tell us what makes you proud of your organisation. We received many inspiring responses. There were two clear themes to the answers: people and the work you do.
A word document version of all the things you told us you're proud of about your organisation is available here:
Wishes, worries and memories hanging from our wish tree, provided by The Conservation Volunteers
Wish, worry and memory cards ready to be completed and hung on our wish trees by Gathering delegates
Our members' wall featuring all 3,000+ SCVO members and supporters
We encouraged Gathering delegates to share your own experiences and your wishes, worries and memories of the voluntary sertor with us on our wish tree, kindly provided by the The Conservation Volunteers (TCV). As the Gathering drew to a close on 16 June, we carefully collected all of your wishes, worries and memories from the tree. The wish trees have now gone to their forever homes with The Conservation Volunteers but we've shared some of your wishes, worries and memories on the orange leaves on our digital tree here and we'll use the information you shared to help inform our wider work and future events.
A Word document version of all your wishes, worries and memories is available here:
One of the undoubted headline figures to speak at the Gathering 2022, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon kicked off the two-day extravaganza by taking part in a ‘Breakfast with the First Minister’. Delegates heard directly from the First Minister about the Scottish Government’s plans and how they relate to ongoing work, with engagement from the panel. SCVO’s head of policy, research campaigns, Kirsten Hogg, asked questions of and responded to Nicola Sturgeon on stage. SCVO Board member Adam Lang invited questions from the audience. Voluntary organisations of all sizes had the opportunity to put the leading politician to the test, exploring how the Scottish Government can create the conditions that allow the sector to fully participate in shaping and delivering national outcomes.
Part campaigner, part writer, part inspirational figure, "The cost of living crisis- a conversation with Jack Monroe" was one of the key highlights from the Gathering 2022. Their blend of honesty and bravery blew delegates at the SEC away, discussing the disconnect between policy makers and the people they make policy for. In this intimate chat with Third Force News editor Graham Martin, nothing was off limits - with the media, the government, foodbanks, and the huge value of volunteering heroes featuring in Jack’s polemic on the system. Jack Monroe was a welcome addition to the Gathering who brought a perspective seldom platformed, and whose message resonated with organisations from across Scotland.
The Queen of Country herself featured heavily in this year’s Gathering spectacular. As well as an inspirational video message that we shared with delegates, representatives from Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Foundation Imagination Library wowed delegates at their session "A wee story can transform a nation: How Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library grew from humble roots to global phenomenon". The charity, a book gifting programme devoted to inspiring a love of reading in the hearts of children, confirmed their hope to roll the scheme out to every area of Scotland, providing plenty of ‘cups of ambition’ for those listening. That was not the end of the fun, with a life-size Dolly cut-out proving to be an extremely popular figure throughout the Gathering. Did you get your photo taken with Dolly?
If you missed Dolly Parton's message to Gathering delegates, you can catch up here
A big question to answer in just an hour, but Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Emeritus Professor from Heriot-Watt University, Viana Maya, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant and Colin Lee CEO of CEMVO, gave it a go. The panel, chaired by SCVO Board member Manish Joshi, discussed with delegates how organisations can do more to become anti-racist and provide insight and inspiration on race equality in Scotland. Despite taking place at the largest voluntary sector event in the UK, delegates said they could have heard a pin drop when human rights activist Sir Geoffrey was speaking. A real highlight of the two days.
For the first time, SCVO welcomed a UK Government Minister to the Gathering. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Iain Stewart MP, travelled to the SEC for a busy event titled ‘In conversation with the UK government’, on how partnerships with the voluntary sector can work. Originally from Hamilton in South Lanarkshire, Iain Stewart returned north to answer critical questions from across the voluntary sector, with those in attendance welcoming a commitment from the minister to work in partnership with the sector, local authorities and the Scottish Government to tackle the biggest social, economic and environmental challenges facing the country.
This year’s Gathering also featured the exciting launch of a new Volunteering Action Plan for Scotland. Led by Volunteer Scotland and the Scottish Government, the plan aims to create an environment where everyone can volunteer, more often, and throughout their lives, with a specific focus on tackling inequality within volunteering. Alan Stevenson, CEO of Volunteer Scotland, said the strategy would “establish accountability for ensuring that the needs of volunteers are at the heart of future decision-making”, with £100,000 investment from the Scottish Government pledged to develop training and guidance to support inclusive volunteering
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the Gathering 2022 and who contributed to making it such a success.
Here are a few things that delegates have told us that they enjoyed about the Gathering:
We know we didn't get everything right this year and that we have work to do to make future events even better. Here are some examples of things that delegates have told us you would like us to improve on for next time:
After the Gathering, we invited delegates, SCVO staff and other stakeholders to tell us what they thought of the Gathering. We also asked people who didn't attend this time to tell us why and how we could do things differently in future. We've just closed our Gathering evaluation surveys and are analysing your responses. Thank you to everyone who shared your thoughts with us. Your opinions will help us to shape our plans for what the Gathering and other events might look like in future- keep your eyes peeled for more information on the evaluation and our future plans.
You can access details of the full programme of events and, where available, event materials here:
Did you spot yourself or your colleagues in our Gathering photo album? Feel free to like, tag and share. If you'd like to see photos from the Gathering, head over to our Facebook page and give us a follow.