Want to go to Spring conference and can’t afford it? Apply to Conference Access Fund by Friday

2015 policy pitch autumn conference by Paul WalterOur Spring Conference in York between 11-13 March is the first to be held under the new One Member One Vote rules. That means that every single party member could have a say as we make our policies.

I say COULD, because not every member can afford to go. Travel, accommodation and childcare costs put going to conference beyond the reach of many members.

This time, however, people can apply for a grant from the Conference Access Fund:

We have established a Conference Access Fund to improve accessibility for members attending conference. The fund consists of a contribution from the core Conference budget as well as donations from party members. Any contributions made by party members are ring-fenced for this purpose only and where applicable, any unused donations will be carried over to the next conference.

All applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If there is high demand, priority will be given to members who are attending Conference for the first time and members from underrepresented sections of society.

To do so for this Conference, you have to apply by this Friday. The online form is here.

Joe Richards, who took this idea to the Federal Conference Committee, told us why he felt so strongly about this here:

It’s also quite well established now that the more representative decisions making bodies are, the more all of us benefit, no matter if we belong to an underrepresented group or not. The past decade has been a historical time in politics for minorities and activist groups have many proud achievements to celebrate in the name of diversity (yet of course, we still have so very far to go), but there’s one spectrum of diversity that’s not doing so well lately, and we don’t really appear to be tackling it head on, and that’s financial diversity…

…The barriers to access aren’t always obvious. It’s not just the inability to pay for conference registration that might be preventative, it’s the travel costs, accommodation, disability related costs, potential loss of earnings, sustenance, childcare and simple self prejudice that you don’t believe you belong at a “conference” in the first place. Maybe your parents never went to one, and quite frankly you don’t even really know what a conference is.

 

You could be awarded up to £100 towards the cost of childcare, and £100 towards accommodation and travel as well as any particular costs relating to disability and access.  I am told that if there are sufficient funds, these amounts are not necessarily set in stone and people could get more if they need more.

We at LDV wanted to support the Fund so we have made a donation to it. We exist to promote the widest possible platform for debate in the party and don’t want to see people held back from contributing because they can’t afford to do so. We hope that the successful applicants will write for us about their experience of Conference.

Obviously, the more money the fund has, the more people it can help. If you want to make a donation to it, get in touch with Sian Waddington, whose address you can find here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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