“I found the day invigorating and it renewed my sense of purpose and belonging.”
On Saturday 20th January staff, trustees and volunteers gathered together for our Annual Conference, which was held for the first time at The Gateway at the University of Bedfordshire. We welcomed our new CEO Sam, who despite only having three weeks with Beyond Detention, lead the conference with confidence and ease.
After a successful conference in 2023, it was inspiring to see everyone in the same room again. Delegates were given a Beyond Detention notebook, badge and pen, along with our Outcomes and Impacts leaflet.
We kicked things off with a chance for volunteers to meet our coordinators Blandine, Lorna and Sharon and receive an update on their successes and challenges over the year, including the increase of drop-ins to include women held at Yarl's Wood IRC, and a long-awaited get-together for our online post-detention friendship group.
Excellent, inspiring and thought-provoking day. Thank you so much to the awesome Beyond Detention team for organising.
We then had an incredibly informative talk from Fiona and Miranda from AVID (Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees) about the Illegal Migration Act and it's impact on the people we support. After a lovely lunch provided by the University of Bedfordshire, we paid tribute to volunteers who had reached special milestones, including Angela who left the Board of trustees last year after an amazing 14 years.
Our coordinators Lorna and Sharon then took to the floor again to give a workshop on boundaries, then finally we moved on to our second guest speaker Jonathan from The Detention Forum, who spoke passionately about their work and campaign for alternatives to detention.
"It was really well organised and professional. Clear, timely information and an excellent venue."
We value the opportunity to get everyone together to exchange ideas and experiences, something that isn’t always easy as befriending can sometimes be an isolated volunteer role. We are planning a lot more meet ups over the year including training, socials and online catch-ups. We look forward to planning our next conference in 2025.
To view more photos of the conference click here
photo credit: Tara Gillen photography