The holistic Need for the Ask an Expert Stand at Conference

At our last two conferences, the Ask an Expert stand has gradually been expanded and developed. Many people have asked me why we need this facility? My answer would always be that sometimes a one to one conversation can be a really good way to solve a nagging question or issue.

On the stands previously, we’ve had experts in compliance, Connect, communications, campaigning, Diversity & Inclusion to name but a few, and all have had detailed conversations – sometimes quite private and confidential – to overcome those issues which wouldn’t necessarily have been possible to explain or detail in a general training session.

The stand is a great addition to the programme of training that goes on at conference. For those that perhaps find large training sessions intimidating, or suffer from difficulties in learning, or feel awkward asking questions that they feel they probably ought to know, then the volunteers on the Ask an Expert stand offer support on a one-to-one basis. This means they can help in a far more intimate way to explain, cajole, reason and support our members and activists. If the activists learn more skills on the ground, then they can spend more time using the new skills they’ve been shown, or the ways they’ve learned to support critical issues in their local party, region, Council group, SAO (Specified Associated Organisation) or AO (Associated Organisation). 

As with my role as the Chair of the Sub-Committee role on diversity for the FPDC (Federal People & Development Committee), I’m conscious that our leader Sir Vince Cable MP has put at the heart of his strategic programme for the party, the need for our party to visibly represent the values that we espouse in policy.   After the release of the Alderdice Report, I am very well aware that our party needs to think harder, about how we ensure that our party has the expertise to find ways to create opportunities for better diversity and more importantly Inclusion and intersectionality of different groups and under-represented groups. None of us can feel satisfied with this report, it is damning and requires action from all members. That means whether you are involved with the State Parties, and their campaigning and candidate committees, or the regions, Council Groups or local parties, come to speak to an expert in their field, to discuss your issues. They can use their expertise and knowledge (which may be their day job too) to suggest ideas, implement training solutions, or use party networks to find the right person or persons to help with whatever your issue may be.

I know why I’m prepared to do this voluntarily, it’s to help support the party, in the areas of expertise I possess. I’m certain this is the motivation for all the other experts, to help our party develop and give our knowledge to the party’s voluntary army of activists and members! I’ll be there at Southport, on the stall over the course of the Conference, and I’ll be very happy to talk to you to see how I can help you.

See you at Southport

* Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett is Secretary of the Federal International Relations Committee (FIRC) and Vice Chair Of Communications for LDEG ( Liberal Democrat European Group)

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