MEETinLEEDS shortlisted for 3 awards

The team have been shortlisted as finalists for Best Partnership, Best Academic Venue and Best Sustainable Venue

MEETinLEEDS shortlisted for 3 awards

MEETinLEEDS are proud to announce they have been nominated for 3 awards at 2 prestigious award ceremonies taking place this year.

At the Conference & Hospitality Show (CHS) Awards 2018 taking place on 31 May 2018 at The Principal Manchester, the nominations are for Best Academic Venue and Best Sustainable Venue.

At the Conference Awards 2018, taking place on 29 June at City Central at The HAC, the nomination is for Best Partnership or Collaboration.

Harriet Boatwright, Sales and Marketing Manager for MEETinLEEDS said:

I am so proud of my team in the wider conference service for the excellent work they do every day – the awards are a testament to that! The team would all like to thank the other services that work hard behind the scenes that make our events possible – we couldn’t have done it without you!

Below is a brief explanation of why the judges have shortlisted the University of Leeds.

Best Academic Venue

The University of Leeds is an institution with real drive and ambition, which is embodied by the 6,000 strong academic and support teams.

We have embraced this through our Academic Ambassador Programme, from which we are attracting a higher volume of academic conferences to campus.

Conference activity in a University setting is more than just a conference, it is a way to help academics to:

  • Create a voice
  • Launch young researchers in an established community
  • Network! Network! Network!
  • Build credibility
  • Showcase Research
  • And a way to influence the discipline

Creating a narrative for our academics around the benefits of conference activity enables us to create a shared language that lifts the conference proposition to the level of the University’s strategic goals.

By engaging our academic teams on their own terms, and by understanding their part in delivering the University’s strategic plan, we are able to embed the academic vision in the conference, understanding the demonstrable value and impact of the work taking place at the University through conferencing activity. Recent academics that have organised conferences with us acknowledge and appreciate this shift in mind-set.

One of the University’s strategic goals is to increase the University’s international reach, ensuring that the impact of our education, research and alumni community is globally relevant. Another strategic objective within the University’s International Strategy is to enhance the University’s international profile and reputation through impactful engagement with a broad range of international partners and stakeholders.

Sameera Rafiq, Research Support Officer in the School of Food Science and Nutrition, and a lead organiser for Food Colloids Conference 2018 said:

The Food Colloids Conference is very unique in its nature and the aim of bringing it to Leeds was far more than to host an event. The MEETinLEEDS team not only understood but were key in building our vision and strategy in delivering a high profile event that raised the profile of our School, Faculty and University in particular our early career researchers. We have already seen the great benefits with more interest in collaborative work from our delegates and we thank the MEETinLEEDS team for working with us on leaving a Food Colloids legacy at the University.

“MEETinLEEDS have shared the same passion, drive and determination on building not only a high profile event that our delegates will speak about for years, but also in driving our School strategy to raise our research profile internationally where we are networking, collaborating and creating a real voice.”

Best Sustainable Venue

Sustainability is an integral part of conference and catering activity to ensure MEETinLEEDS make a substantial contribution to the University’s wider sustainability agenda, which focuses on four key areas: collaboration within the University & wider community, efficient management of resources, building knowledge & being a positive partner in society.

One of the key areas that MEETinLEEDS have a direct impact on is in event catering. The catering team, Great Food at Leeds, provide the event catering and run all onsite cafes, which provide cash sale options to event delegates. The catering team has recently been awarded the maximum 3 star rating for the Food Made Good programme.

Beverley Kenny MBE, Deputy Director of Commercial Services at the University of Leeds, said:

“Receiving the highest rating at the first attempt is a fantastic achievement. It is a reflection of the commitment of the entire team and the hard work they do every day, ensuring the catering service supports the sustainable aims and objectives of the University”

Other programmes in place for catering include:

  • 1,970 keep cups sold, resulting in saving 29,619 disposable coffee cups since January 2017!
  • Too Good to Go introduced, an app aimed to put an end to food waste in the hospitality industry
  • Unsold sandwiches donated twice a week to local charities
  • 65% of food suppliers from within 40 miles
  • Bespoke food maps showing where local produce comes from
  • Consolidating food deliveries has reduced carbon emissions by an estimated 50kgs per week

Our other sustainable initiatives include:

  • Sustainable travel plan, encouraging the use of public transport and detailing locations of electric car charging points
  • Bike hire offered for conferences
  • Bespoke conference websites and apps, reducing printed information
  • Accommodation awarded the maximum of gold in the green tourism awards
  • Fundraising for local charities, with a running total of £15,000 since May 2017
  • Managed and hosted a biannual Fairtrade Fair since 2005 in order to promote awareness of Fairtrade within the university. The University of Leeds was the first Fairtrade accredited university in the UK!

Best Partnership

Over the last 5 years MEETinLEEDS have developed an excellent partnership with Communication Matters.

Communication Matters is a charitable organisation that cover the whole of the UK. Communication Matters is the UK chapter of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication; their vision is ‘a world where all individuals have a right to a ‘voice’ through the provision of equipment and ongoing support services’.

The relationship between Communication Matters and MEETinLEEDS developed organically from their initial event enquiry in 2011, when the charity were looking to relocate their annual conference. Communication Matters required a suitable venue where they were able to offer an inclusive and accessible conference programme to all attendees, offering a fantastic delegate experience from start to finish. The University of Leeds as a venue fitted all the criteria and the Communication Matters Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Conference was first held at the University in 2013.

In order to fully understand all of the requirements, the MEETinLEEDS team hosted a number of site visits and meetings with the Communications Matters Board of Trustees prior to the event. The MEETinLEEDS team also visited the initial event venue to research how the event had previously been delivered; then went on to work with Communication Matters to identify their long term goals, discussing the opportunity they would have to grow and develop their annual AAC conference at the University of Leeds.

In 2015, after 2 years of successful conferences at the University, Communication Matters relocated their headquarters from Edinburgh to Leeds. The relocation allowed the MEETinLEEDS team to provide excellent customer service with close contact throughout the year, leading to the successful development of the AAC conference.

The partnership has been beneficial to both parties. MEETinLEEDS staff, Residential and Commercial Service departments and the Equality Unit at the University have become one of the first to participate in Communication Access training. Communication Matters in collaboration with other charities, are hoping to roll out to all major companies within the next few years.

Anthony Lowe, Event Manager at MEETinLEEDS says:

“Quite simply Communication Matters has changed the way we think as service providers, we already know we have excellent customer service skills, but this partnership has highlighted that we can go further, it’s about understanding and accepting that not everyone processes information in the same way that we do and being flexible enough to change our interactions accordingly. The partnership enables both sides to enhance their skills and knowledge.”

Ruth McMorran, Co-Chair of Communication Matters, highlights the success of the partnership:

“The relationship with the conference team is, in my experience, second to none. As a small charity with a defined strategy of inclusivity, the conference is our key networking event for the membership and others involved in communication disability technology. Many of our delegates are wheelchair users and The University of Leeds was chosen for the imposing yet congenial site that is easily navigated and provides accessible routes to all buildings. First and foremost however Leeds University was chosen because of the MEETinLEEDS team!

“The MEETinLEEDS team work extremely hard to ensure that each conference is better than the one before. This is achieved through regular evaluations that are really acted upon. There are no barriers to full inclusion for our disabled members yet it is achieved in a way that is seamless and the event feels like any other, nothing patronising or discriminating here; creating adapted menus, venues  and entertainment , finding truly accessible accommodation onsite & throughout the city. We are absolutely sure that MEETinLEEDS goes above and beyond for us throughout the year and make our conference one truly great event.”