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Communication Matters Balloons

Communication Matters

Communication Matters, the national charity which is part of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC), marks their 30th year at their Annual Conference which will be held at the University of Leeds from Sunday 11th – Tuesday 13th September 2016.

Communication Matters National AAC Conference (CM2016) is the leading annual Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) event and sees over 400 attendees come together to partake in workshops, talks and learn about advances in technology and research. The conference provides an opportunity for representatives from all disciplines associated with AAC to hear about and be part of the latest developments in the field. Platform and poster presentations will cover the areas of Best Practice Research, Clinical & Professional Experience and Personal Stories & Preferences. The conference will open with a 30th Anniversary Tea Party with music from Jive Duo, a Leeds-based Jazz duo, followed by the CM’s Got Talent Final with three competing video performances.

MEETinLEEDS, the conference office for the University of Leeds, will be providing event space for the conference, including the supplier exhibition which will be held in Parkinson Court. The University is also providing accommodation at the University’s flagship campus accommodation, Storm Jameson Court halls of residence which carries the highest possible accreditation under all categories of the National Accessible Scheme (NAS), with 20 fully accessible bedrooms (and the Gold Award for Sustainable Green Tourism).

The keynote speakers at this year’s conference are AAC user and international best-selling author of Ghost Boy, Martin Pistorius, and Dr Angharad Beckett, Associate Professor of Political Sociology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds. In addition to the educational and exhibition elements of the conference, each year the Alan Martin Award is made to an AAC user who has made a significant contribution to the Creative Arts. The Award, first presented in 2013 was established to honour and commemorate Alan Martin who worked for the inclusion of all people within the arts regardless of their disability.

The conference is now into its fourth year at the university, with the charity’s main office being based in Leeds since 2015. The charity is now looking to encourage local AAC users to become members of Communication Matters. They are also looking for interest from both the public and private sectors in the city to become involved in and support initiatives such as the ‘Communication Access for All’ project, where CM will train local businesses in appropriate interactions with AAC users.

Speaking ahead of CM2016, Ruth Mcmorran, Deputy Chair of Communication Matters said:

“Communication Matters is looking forward to holding our annual conference at the University of Leeds in September 2016 for the fourth time. The layout of the campus at Leeds is ideal for us with the residential accommodation, refectory, exhibition area, lecture theatres and seminar rooms all located close together.  Many of our delegates are wheelchair users and the site is easily navigated and provides accessible routes to all buildings. The MEETinLEEDS team work extremely hard to ensure that each conference is better than the one before.”   

Harriet Boatwright, Sales and Marketing Manager at University of Leeds commented:

“Working alongside Communication Matters for the last 4 years has given MEETinLEEDS the opportunity to embrace and understand the specific requirements of the conference and the delegates in attendance.

The nature of the campus and flexibility of the venues is such that each year we are able to map out a conference site that meets the needs of the event and offers an exceptional space to host the attendees of the event, who we are delighted to have as a regular visitors to the University of Leeds.“

To book your place at CM2016, or to find out more about this excellent event, please visit the Communication Matters website

Summer Fair Marquee

University Square MarqueeThe University’s campus is alive with visitors from far and wide during the summer months, attracted by the numerous conferences and events that are hosted by MEETinLEEDS.

“Contrary to the idea that the University is quiet from late June to mid-September, it’s an incredibly busy time for us,” says Harriet Boatwright from MEETinLEEDS. “This year, the summer conference season saw over 25,000 people attend conference and events activities on campus, and an equal number of ‘bed nights’ spent on campus and Devonshire Hall.

“MEETinLEEDS are here to help our schools and faculties attract and deliver exceptional conferences, and we can offer full facilities and expert support – whatever’s needed, we’ll do our best to make sure it happens.”

This year’s events included the British Neuro-Oncology Society conference; Crystal Growth of Organic Materials 2016; the International Kansei Engineering & Emotion Research Conference; Think Ahead – the new fast-track programme for exceptional graduates to become mental health social workers; the Communication Matters National AAC Conference (CM2016); WES – the Work, Employment and Society Conference – and, of course, the International Medieval Congress (IMC). Have a peek at the short video of the “Battle of the Vikings”, which took place as part of the IMC “Making Leeds Medieval” event. A variety of educational engagement activities and summer schools also took place.

Teach First“Some of the statistics are amazing and will give people an idea of the scale of the events we have,” continues Harriet. “During the IMC we provided 4,000 breakfasts, 1,100 lunches, 940 evening meals, and drink receptions for over 1,000 people. The Teach First event – which we hosted in partnership with Leeds Beckett University and First Direct Arena – saw over 4,300 attendees visit Leeds over two days.”

The MEETinLEEDS team has one big, final conference to organise before the academic year begins. “We’ll be welcoming 800 delegates to the British Education Research Association (BERA) conference in mid-September,” says Harriet. “BERA is a member-led charity that champions the best of educational research and aims to build momentum within and beyond the field. The three-day conference attract around 1,000 national and international delegates representing a wide range of academics, policy makers and practitioners, all with a strong interest in educational research. I’m sure that some colleagues from the University will be attending.”


SEBP Presentation

On the 1st and 2nd February MEETinLEEDS welcomed the Society of Evidence Based Policing to the University of Leeds for the SEBP 2016 Winter Conference.



The event, “Policing: Evidence as the Driver for Change”, saw the society, which is made up of police officers, police staff, and research professionals discuss how to raise awareness of, advocate and implement evidence based methodology part of everyday policing in the UK.

The main sessions were hosted in the Great Hall, our prestigious venue which focus for the University’s ceremonial activities. Parkinson Court provided the arena for catering and exhibition stands, including the key conference sponsor Axon Public Safety.

Katrina-CliffMEETinLEEDS worked alongside Clifford Stott, Principal Research Fellow at the University of Leeds School of Law to organise and host the event in collaboration with the N8 Research Partnership. Collaborating with Schools and Departments remains a key goal for MEETinLEEDS, as we seek to aid the University’s strategic plan of interdisciplinary working through a commitment to creating and enhancing collaborations in education, research and innovation.

The Event Managers Katrina Dickens and Anthony Lowe had an eventful few days over the course of the event, but the work started many months ago, says Katrina:

“Though the SEBP 2016 event initially appeared to be a straightforward 2 day conference we quickly realised that aspects of the event would require all of our problem solving abilities. Communicating with delegates and confirming attendance were our main challenges, as complexities of payment, communication and late registration are inherent in dealing with police organisations. The final numbers did increase in the days leading up to the event, which meant a reconfiguration of the room layout and catering, as well as a quick one-hour-turnaround of the Great Hall (see the video below) from its guise as the main session meeting room to that of the evening reception and dining area.

However, it was great to work with Clifford and the SEBP team, with the attendees having an enjoyable and informative stay at the University of Leeds.”

Clifford Stott said: “I would firstly like to thank MEETinLEEDS for their assistance in hosting the Society for Evidence Based Policing Conference on 1st & 2nd February. The event went very well and I think all the delegates and the organisation left with a positive experience that will reflect well upon the University.

We began planning the event later last year and began to organise this through the School of Law. We initially met some difficulties given our lack of experience in organising events of this scale and nature. In this regard I was delighted when I first had the opportunity to meet with MEETinLEEDS to discuss the planning and arrangements. It was from that point onward that the organisation for the event became effective and manageable. There was a very real sense of ‘ownership’ provided by MEETinLEEDS which gave me confidence the organisation was committed to the delivery of a very high quality event. Moreover, the team held regular meetings with us at which we were able to gain updates and discuss any issues that were relevant. The team were also important in handling the late changes and liaison with the SEBP executive as we approached the conference itself. On the day of the event the team were on hand to deal with registration and help resolve issues and the conference was delivered without complication.

In short I was very pleased with the excellent service provided throughout and would have no hesitation – indeed already have – provided the strongest recommendation for getting in touch with MEETinLEEDS when hosting any major event at the University.”


Get in touch with our team by email or call 0113 34 35680

Harriet Boatwright

Commercially successful yes… but as Harriet Boatwright, Sales & Marketing Manager at MEETinLEEDS explains, conferencing and event activity in universities should also be about seeking to have an impact  on the institution’s strategy.


Ask any university conference and events team what they do and you are likely to hear about the importance of putting heads on beds and maximising profitability.

Understandably every university wants to maximise the usage of its physical resources – its accommodation, catering, sporting and academic estate are key assets that need to work 365 days a year.  However, at a time when each university is also seeking to ensure a distinctive position in both the recruitment and research market place, it’s also important to ensure that conferencing activity is, where possible, making some form of contribution to the core strategic plan of the institution.  

Contributing to the Strategic Plan

The focus for the conference and events team at the University of Leeds has certainly shifted over the past five years to be tuned carefully to how our activity contributes to the University’s ambitious strategic plan to grow its research income to £200m by 2020. We have challenged ourselves with the question; what ways can we support the University’s drive to enable interdisciplinary research, to reach a greater international audience and to ensure it is making a positive impact? Consistently referring back to this has enabled us to focus our efforts on collaboration and partnership with the academic community.

In 2010, MEETinLEEDS launched the ongoing ‘Team on Tour’ campaign, in which the team meet with faculties and schools within the University to help develop relationships and communicate the services we offer. This campaign has led to real advocacy for the conference service around the University and kept us front of mind for academics planning conferences. Thanks to this campaign and others, our academic community continues to help inform the services we provide, ensuring we meet their needs and develop services in response to their requirements. Recent conference activity highlights the ways in which, as a conference team, we contribute to the successful delivery of the University’s strategic plan.

Demonstrating International Reach

Our University is committed to increasing its international reach, ensuring the impact of its education and research is globally relevant. Through our conference activity, MEETinLEEDS enables academics to highlight their work on an international and global stage.

“Sharing the responsibility for the conference with MEETinLEEDS was crucial for its success.”

Head of the Theoretical Physics Group in the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, Dr Almut Beige recently worked with MEETinLEEDS to host a leading international conference, which attracted participants from more than 30 countries.

She said: “Holding a leading international conference on Quantum Information Processing and Communication, the QIPC2015, in Leeds raised our profile significantly.

“Having never organised an event of this size before, chairing the QIPC, it could easily have become very overwhelming. Sharing the responsibility for the conference with MEETinLEEDS was crucial for its success. It allowed me, as an academic, to concentrate my efforts on putting together a well-balanced programme committee and obtaining an impressive list of invited speakers. From helping us to put the bid together and weekly update meetings in the run-up to the conference, to the smooth running and mopping up afterwards, I felt completely confident in MEETinLEEDS.

Facilitating Interdisciplinary Working

Interdisciplinary working and a commitment to creating and enhancing collaborations in education, research and innovation, remain a priority for our University. Through the conference service, we provide a framework of support to enable co-production, promoting discussion and enabling decision making.

“Interdisciplinary working and a commitment to creating and enhancing collaborations in education, research and innovation, remain a priority for our University.”

A recent partnership will see MEETinLEEDS managing a seminar series on behalf of our School of Healthcare. Speakers and participants from diverse groups: service users, carers, professionals working in third sector and public and statutory organisations and academics will come together to build a network of expertise, which will inform the values and practices of mental healthcare.

Pamela Fisher (Principal Investigator), sociologist at the University of Leeds, said: “MEETinLEEDS has been excellent in responding flexibly and creatively to complex issues related to this multi-disciplinary project, which involves the universities of Leeds, York, Oxford and Huddersfield as well as multiple third sector and publication organisations.  The professional service provided by MEETinLEEDS is exemplary and will be central to the success of the ESRC seminar series.

Enabling Outcomes, Delivering Impact

“MEETinLEEDS provides brilliant advice and guidance for all aspects of our conferences.”

It is the role of MEETinLEEDS to provide an enabling environment allowing academics to focus on the creation, dissemination and application of knowledge. Earlier this year the University hosted a two-day MEI conference, MEIBioEng15, which encompassed an MEI Strategy Workshop and Early Research Careers Forum.

Jane Wilcox, Medical Technologies Reporting and Information Systems Manager, University of Leeds, said: “The output from the workshop is a report, which is expected to influence the plans for delivery of medical engineering research, innovation and translation being developed for the period 2015-2020, by the sponsors and other funders and will input into considerations for support for translation and impact by HEFCE.

“In order to facilitate these crucial conferences, you need a team that can make this happen. MEETinLEEDS provides brilliant advice and guidance for all aspects of our conferences – the fact that we could direct people to them with any registrations, travel or accommodation queries was a huge relief.  Not to mention the workload that they took from our shoulders dealing with all of the invoices and sourcing of poster boards, furniture, AV equipment and even finding helpers to be available at the two- day conference.  In short, these events could not have taken place without their input.”

In Conclusion

Conferencing in the sector has an important role to play and must not be marginalised as a commercial activity alone.  A conference service needs to share the vision and drive of the Institution and understand its role in the delivery of the core strategic plan. MEETinLEEDS has continued to see significant growth in conference income and we remain fixed in our commitment to realising the University’s ambitions.


Get in touch with our team by email or call 0113 34 35680.

BERA 2016

MEETinLEEDS has secured the UK’s largest educational research conference for 2016 – The British Education Research Association (BERA).


BERA 2016 will be held in the Roger Stevens Building

BERA is a member-led charity that champions the best of educational research and aims to build momentum within and beyond the field. Its September 2016 conference will take place over three days and attract around 1,000 national and international delegates representing a wide range of academics, policy makers and practitioners – all engaged with a strong interest in educational research.

“Leeds as a city is a perfect location for the BERA conference due to its strong educational links and vibrant cultural atmosphere.”

MEETinLEEDS’ Sales & Marketing Manager, Harriet Boatwright, said: “We’re excited to be hosting BERA within our venues, and look forward to being part of the full City welcome.  With fantastic venues and an environment rich in learning we are confident in the delivery of a successful event, in hand with ConferenceLeeds.”

ConferenceLeeds, the official conference desk for Leeds, has an extensive list of partners, including MEETinLEEDS, and offers unrivalled access to key people across the city, including thought leaders and industry bodies – opening endless doors to create exciting opportunities.

Marie Blythe, Events Manager for BERA, commented:

“We last held the conference at the University of Leeds in 2001. Leeds as a city is a perfect location for the BERA conference due to its strong educational links and vibrant cultural atmosphere. With the evolution of the BERA programme over the last 15 years, it is long overdue to hold our conference in Leeds once again and enjoy a city that works together to deliver an outstanding delegate experience.”

She continued: “Delegates to the conference have a wide range of educational and research interests. New learning technologies, pedagogies for the future, professional learning, and issues of equity and policy implementation are but a few focal topics. The BERA conference offers opportunities for networking, so a variety of venues is a must.”

Councillor Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, commented:

“Leeds is continuing to attract a fantastic variety of events and conferences to the city through its unique, multi-venue, pro-active approach – and BERA is a great example of this. The association has strong national and international delegates, and has secured keynote delegates from the US, Australia and New Zealand and we’re very excited to welcome them to our city.”

Find out more and register for the BERA 2016 Conference. 

Find out more about Leeds.


Get in touch with our team by email or call 0113 34 35680

Communication Matters Conference

MEETinLEEDS are not alien to a busy September: one brimming with large residential conferences and a number of smaller events and day meetings. However, this year it has definitely been one to remember, as we hosted: 110 events, entertained 9037 day delegates and accommodated 1071 overnight delegates (including our short break guests)!

We cannot wait to say hello to our new delegates and welcome back the events that are returning next year.

Below we highlight our top 3 conferences over the period, which of our amazing array of venues they used, what people are saying about them, and information on how you can participate in these excellent events:

Communication Matters


Communication Matters works across the UK to promote the best possible communication for people with complex communication needs. The Communication Matters National AAC Conference is the UK’s leading annual AAC event, with a diverse programme of plenaries, presentations, posters and exhibition held over two and a half days.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is the term used to describe various methods of communication that can ‘add-on’ to speech and are used to get around problems with ordinary speech.
AAC includes simple systems such as pictures, gestures and pointing, as well as more complex techniques involving powerful computer technology.

Where was it?

“Great venue and facilities, staff outstanding nothing to much trouble….thanks!” — Helen Bell

What are people saying about it?

“Thank you so much yet again for all you have done to make the Communication Matters Conference a success. Moving the office to Leeds and making more local links has been a really positive move for us, which we would not have considered if the conference in 2012 had not been so successful.

Comm-Matters-Balloon-e1444133310966It is exciting to see the conference growing and developing – 2016 is our 30th anniversary – we hope you feel as excited about the opportunities ahead as we do!”

Cathy Harris (Event Organiser) – Chair of Communication Matters

How can I find out more or attend the conference?

Visit the Communication Matters website, follow them on Twitter or visit the Facebook page for news and details about the 2016 conference at the University of Leeds.

QIPC 2015


QIPC aims to bring together researchers from all aspects of Quantum Information Science. The five main topics of the conference are Quantum Computing, Quantum Simulation, Quantum Communication, Quantum Metrology, and Quantum Algorithms, but they also welcome contributions concerning related areas of physics.

Where was it?

What are people saying about it?

“MEETinLEEDS have been supporting the conference from the start. They helped us to put a very professional conference bid together and gave us the confidence that we would succeed. During the run-up to the conference, I always felt in good hands and trusted the team to do their best to support us.

QIPC-AttendeesMEETinLEEDS were of great help with a large number of tasks, like processing registrations, reserving rooms in hotels and communicating with invited speakers and exhibitors. Most importantly, they kept an eye on our finances. Their work was often very discrete but assured that the participants (and the local organisers) of the QIPC felt always welcome and well looked after.”

Dr Almut Beige (Event Organiser) – Head of the Theoretical Physics Group, University of Leeds

How can I find out more or attend the conference?

Details about this year’s conference can be found on the website.

Registration for QIPC 2017 is not yet available, but you can set up a Google Alert and be the first to know when it does!



The largest ever UK gathering of biomedical engineers and bioengineers, MEIbioeng15 brings together the former Centres of Excellence in Medical Engineering in the UK and The Bioengineering Society Annual Conference, with participants from leading academic centres and the MedTech industry.

Attendees enjoy unequalled opportunities for networking, collaboration, new partnerships, and shaping the future of this exciting and challenging field.

The Scientific Advisory Panel of nine internationally recognised scientists and research leaders welcome abstracts across nine themes, including scientific research areas, commercial translation and careers and outreach.

Where was it?

What are people saying about it?

“MEETinLEEDS, thank you all so much for help, support and guidance for the MEIbioEng15 event. I absolutely cannot tell you how grateful I am for all of your efforts right from the start to being available on the day. I absolutely cannot sing your praises enough to anyone that will listen and I have no hesitation in recommending your services.”

Jane Wilcox (Event Organiser) – Medical Technologies Reporting and Information Systems Manager, University of Leeds

How can I find out more or attend the conference?

Visit the MEIbioeng website for details of this year’s event and the 2016 conference at the University of Oxford. Follow them on Twitter for updates on future events.


Get in touch with the team by email or call us on 0113 34 36100.

Lisa Wood

I am the very proud parent of an incredibly talented and beautiful 15 year old teenage daughter.

As any parent who has a teen or two will know, this time of year can be very hard for them; revising for the all-important GCSE exams and striving for the best results they can achieve, to ultimately help attain their long term goals. Buzz words, chunk it, bite size, to name only a couple, are a daily reminder in our house. Of course the endless piles of neatly stacked books, and flash cards adorn my once tidy kitchen!



Using our organisations values, and being able to work as a team, our conference organisers and delegates will have an enjoyable and productive event here at the University of Leeds.

Then to finish off we have the celebration known as the prom, the thought that someone else should have the same dress – well that would be a catastrophe of unquantified proportions!

I am confident that my daughter will do very well with all the time and effort she has devoted to her revision, and of course look absolutely stunning at her prom, but above all enjoy the event and finally relax for the summer.

In many ways this reminds me of the job I do here at the University of Leeds as a sales executive. You must do your homework, know your stuff (venues & best fit) and go the extra mile to ensure that all the right questions in the planning are asked, ahead of securing any venues/catering for the event. Of course service with a smile is a must, as I take pride in my work and care about the end result.

Using our organisations values, and being able to work as a team, our conference organisers and delegates will have an enjoyable and productive event here at the University of Leeds. Many have a gala dinner as a celebration (our version of a prom I suppose!) which is always a great success and a lovely finale to the event. With our award winning chefs our fine dining is a real winner! Delivered catering services, with new menus launched on a regular basis, and a devoted delivery team means our conferences are in safe hands for all their catering needs.

With great preparation come great things – something I embrace both at work, and now at home, inspiring a whole new generation!