MEETinLEEDS shortlisted for Conference Award

The team have been shortlisted as finalists for Best Partnership for the work with Communication Matters

MEETinLEEDS shortlisted for Conference Award

We are proud to announce that we have been nominated for an award at the prestigious 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!

Here is why the judges shortlisted the University of Leeds.

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.”