Chair’s Blog: 2016 Away Day

How did Harriet get on at Swansea meeting the other branches and head office?

by Harriet Allen

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I went to the volunteer away day at the Science Festival this year. It’s the first time I’ve been along to one of these – our branch tends to send the chair and this is my first year in post – but I want to write a quick blog to encourage others to attend.
I’ll report all the various contacts, ideas and plans back to the branch in due course. Here I want to describe the event so hopefully encourage more of our branch volunteers to attend. Now I’ve attended it seems like such a no brainer to go again. As a nominated branch attendee I got my travel  funded by the BSA. If I’d thought about it properly I’d have enjoyed a free trip to the festival. Unfortunately I couldn’t get enough time off work by the time I clocked what I could have won.
I arrived in time to catch a little bit of the festival on day one. Even just that short time meant I could suck up some knowledge. Even though I work in science, it’s rare luxury to be able to just pick and choose my sessions based on preference and whim. I never knew that Les Paul invented not just the electric guitar but also the four track recorder.

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The branches events started with an evening reception. My first ‘networking’ experience started by going up and down in the lift with two members from Cambridge. Then there were drinks and some substantial canapés. The sort of canapés which mean you don’t really need dinner. At the reception the volunteer and branch awards are given…..but it isn’t just a back slapping exercise. I was really inspired to hear what others had done. Within a few minutes I had start to hear about other branches were doing and I think I’d learnt enough to justify the trip in the first 30 minutes. Sometimes it was nice just to hear that we were not the only group struggling with logistics, other times it was fantastic to hear of great creative ideas elsewhere and other times it was good to be able explain our projects and how we made them happen.
This sharing of experience continued on day two. Sometimes in the form of formal talks…..I learnt how to do a sci/art workshop for example. We also had some guided discussions (although, to be fair, I don’t think any one of the discussions I was in stayed on topic). Meanwhile I was well fed and watered.
I’ve come away feeling much more inspired than I anticipated. Volunteers attending were much more varied than I expected. Each branch has its own context and challenges but there is something to learn from everyone.