Financial support to attend Conference

Have you ever wanted to attend our federal party conferences but been discouraged because of financial or access issues?

The Federal Conference Committee (of which I am a member) wants to enable everyone to attend, so some years ago we set up an Access Fund to provide support.

This is how it works:

  • Everyone who registers for conference is asked if they would like to contribute to the Fund.
  • Anyone with relevant needs can apply to the Access Fund for support. In short, it can cover childcare, accommodation and travel for anyone who could not otherwise afford it, plus specific costs for those with disabilities (such as sign language interpreting and mobility scooters). You can see more detail about what can be covered and how to apply here.

Liberal Democrats are generous people. For Autumn Conference this year over 800 members donated to the fund; in fact, one third of all those who attended made a contribution. I’m pleased to say that Lib Dem Voice has also made a substantial donation to the fund.

These donations enabled us to support 21 applicants with a variety of needs. Of those, a third were first time attendees.

Registration is now open for Spring Conference, which will be held in York from 15th to 17th March next year. The deadline for applications for support from the Access Fund is 8th January and you would be advised to apply as soon as possible.

We are all aware of the financial pressures at HQ at the moment, but the FCC has reiterated that this fund is ring-fenced and cannot be used for other purposes.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • David Warren 16th Nov '18 - 5:27pm

    This is very good news.

    Having attended conferences in 2011 and 2012 at the same time as being a full time carer I know a bit about the barriers that can be faced in getting to these events.

    In my case the local party were very supportive but it still wasn’t easy.

    I enjoyed both the conferences I got to immensely and this access fund is going to be invaluable in helping others get along to future ones.

  • David Walsh 16th Nov '18 - 9:53pm

    Great to hear this is available.

    Anything that brings down barriers, making things equal for all, is a step in the right direction. There’s so many things I’d like to do but when I often have to make a choice of heating or eating (literally) it limits how involved I can be.

    And thank you to all those who donate to it. It might be a few extra pounds out of your pocket but it might help those who often feel like they have no voice in this world to speak out; widening the debate, and the views, as well as providing inclusive representation helps to ensure that policies are well thought out and don’t favour only those who can afford to attend.

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