Annual event celebrates overcoming life’s barriers
The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) annual Diversity Conference has been hailed a success, with over 80 delegates gathering together to celebrate and inspire.
Entitled ‘Towards a better tomorrow’, this year’s conference was designed to inspire visitors by promoting and celebrating people who are successful despite perceived obstacles such as disability, mental health issues, poverty, gender, race and sexual discrimination.
The conference was considered an exceptional success, with guest speakers ranging from serving RAF pilot Roger Cruickshank to award-winning performer Juliette Burton. A particular highlight of the day was guest speaker Paul Walmsley, who was once Britain’s most wanted man before turning his life around. The speakers were awarded with the Phoenix trophy, designed by UCLan's Dr Matt Dickinson, and was a small token of appreciation on behalf of both the University and the Creative Communities Group in recognition of everyone's contribution to the conference.
Liz Atkin, who presented her story of turning a compulsive skin picking obsession into productive artwork at the conference, said: “Huge gratitude to the team at UCLan for not just the amazing organisation and smooth running of the event, but also for the wonderful structure of the Diversity conference."
"The speakers and workshop presenters were all truly exceptional and the overall quality, depth and warmth of the day was something very special to encounter."
“It was great to have the opportunity to listen to and meet wonderful speakers, particularly Juliette and Roger, but also for the lovely poetry by Molly, which really kept a creative element threaded through the day. I also loved the workshops which enabled smaller discussions. I came away with a huge sense of positive hope. Juliette, Molly and I formed firm friendship through the day and travelled back together full of excitement and creative buzz.
“I would also like to take a moment to warmly say thank you for the Phoenix gesture to the speakers, that was deeply touching and meant a great deal to me. Thank you. It was an inspirational day.”
Sue Ogden, the Management Information Officer from UCLan, commented: “I just wanted to say thank you for a brilliant day. The success of the 2015 Conference was a hard act to follow, but you somehow managed to raise the bar even higher. The speakers and workshop presenters were all truly exceptional and the overall quality, depth and warmth of the day was something very special to encounter. The messages taken away are so important, and I know that this point of view is shared by all concerned.”
Another brilliant review came from Malcolm Rea MBE, a UCLan Honorary Fellow and former Chief Nursing Officer. He said: “Congratulations on the extremely successful conference. The eclectic line up of speakers was first class both in presentation and the freshness of subject matter and relevance. They were informative and inspiring.”
"I am continually amazed by the genuine warmth and honesty that permeates through the room during these conferences, the delegates are always so receptive and it was an honour to meet all of the inspirational speakers."
The event was organised by UCLan Honorary Fellow and Community Ambassador Russell Hogarth and Nigel Farnworth from the UCLan Creative Communities Group, along with UCLan Athena Swan Officer Claire Meadows-Howarth, and was inspired by the duo’s own travelling workshop that deals with personal stories of mental health issues and challenging situations that have helped shaped their lives.
Reflecting on the day, Russell Hogarth said: "It's the third-year I've had the pleasure of chairing the annual UCLan Diversity Conference, supported by my Creative Communities Group manager Nigel Farnworth and fellow conference committee members from across the University. Each year we build on the success of previous years and we seem to have got the content just right for our target audience. The mixture of lived experience and personal narratives, delivered using creative teaching methods certainly receives outstanding evaluated comments from both conference delegates and presenters. This year's additional Phoenix presentations to all the keynote speakers and workshop presenters were certainly well received.”
Nigel Farnworth added: “I am continually amazed by the genuine warmth and honesty that permeates through the room during these conferences, the delegates are always so receptive and it was an honour to meet all of the inspirational speakers – they truly deserved their Phoenix statues as symbols of triumph over adversity as they managed to motivate the audience to do the same. This Conference was a shining example of effective team work and I’m already looking forward to the 2017 Diversity Conference entitled ‘Engaging the Disengaged.”
View photos from the event on Twitter.