This year’s conference was a vibrant and dynamic event which focussed very much on the impact our members and stakeholders are making in the community based resources sector.  With so much good work being done at national level, grassroots level and everywhere in-between, it is important that we periodically remind ourselves that this story should, and must, be told.

What better place than the CRNS 2019 Conference and Exhibition to bring together a cross section of CRNS members from across Scotland, to share their stories and evidence the amazing impact their organisations are making in their localities.

This year we were at the Radisson BLU Hotel, Glasgow and we were grateful for the support of several sponsors.  Our headline sponsor was Zero Waste Scotland; with Wheatley Group, Keegan & Pennykid, Social Enterprise Academy and SENSCOT providing valuable sponsorship support also.

Conference host this year was Scottish comedian and Radio Scotland host Fred MacAulay, who provided some light-hearted humour throughout the day as well as ensuring proceedings ran to plan.

We were very pleased to have the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, attend in the morning to give the ministerial address and also take questions from the floor.

Ms Cunningham’s speech emphasised the government’s commitment to tackling climate change, elaborating on the declared climate emergency and Climate Bill and she also went on to advise on the likely timetable and scope of the forthcoming Circular Economy Bill.

Andy Dick, Corporate Plan Manager, Zero Waste Scotland next spoke about Zero Waste Scotland’s Corporate Plan which was launched just 2 months ago.  Its main purpose is to lead Scotland to use products and resources responsibly.

CRNS CEO Michael Cook then presented passionately on the theme of the conference, and how impact reporting and storytelling links to care for Planet, People, Pounds and Place.  Michael explained how the work which CRNS members carry out very much connects to and resonates with these.  He also launched the Local Solutions to the Global Climate Emergency report during his keynote.

After the morning break we were delighted to hear first-hand from 3 CRNS members on their projects and the different layers of impact their activities are making in their communities, and in the case of Stella’s Voice much further away in Eastern Europe.  Mark Morgan from Stella’s Voice explained how their reuse activates here in Aberdeenshire, not only help locally but also make a massive positive impact in Moldova too.  Peter Lavelle from Glasgow Wood Recycling outlined the social and environmental impacts they make from producing furniture and bespoke items from reclaimed wood, whilst also providing training and placement opportunities for people feeling isolated and who are far removed from the labour market.  Our third member Colin Freeman from Bike for Good highlighted their bike reuse and recycling activities and amazed us with their figures in relation to tonnage diverted from landfill and Co2 equivalent saved by supporting adults to choose cycling over driving for short local journeys.

Our invited guest Andy Russell from Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company enlightened delegates as to their exciting new social enterprise which opened in Scotland in Autumn 2018.  This provides employment opportunities for Armed Forces veterans and others with disabilities, in the production of signs for road, rail and commercial contracts using reuse materials where possible.

The afternoon plenary focussed on food waste and key notes were delivered by 2 more CRNS members, the first coming from Dave Simmers at CFINE.  Dave talked us through the journey of CFINE and the varied activities and services it carries out to tackle food poverty and food waste in the North East.

Next up was Sam Adderley from Greening Gorebridge. Sam delivered a joint presentation with Kanahaya Alam from HUBBUB.  Kana’s role is to promote, support and facilitate the Community Fridge Network whereby fridges are located in community spaces to encourage the giving and taking of surplus food.  Sam spoke on behalf of Greening Gorebridge on the practicalities of setting up a community fridge, the partnerships she has forged with local supermarkets to aid donations to the fridge and advocated the support which they have received from HUBBUB.

Throughout the day there were numerous opportunities for networking, with The Market Place really facilitating engagement, chat and new collaborations between delegates, not to mention the chance to browse the 15 exhibition stalls and speak to the exhibitors about their services and products.

Breakout sessions took place in the afternoon too, with delegates selecting from Sharing Your Vision, run by David Bryan, Social Enterprise Academy; Tap into Storytelling, hosted by Hilary Phillips, Cygnus Extra or Reporting Impact, facilitated by Rick Rijsdijk, Social Value Lab.

CRNS Chair Sam Mills, also Head of Projects with CRNS member Changeworks, brought the day to a close with some reflections on, and a summation of, the day.  A drinks reception kindly sponsored by Davidson Chalmers Stewart then ensued, enabling CRNS staff and those delegates able to stay on a bit longer to relax and mingle over a glass of something nice!