• Creating a Community Where Everyone Belongs

Great expectations and how to stay ICE cool!

A few insights to prepare you for the Inclusive Community Experience (ICE)..!

The Inclusive Community Experience (which, years ago, was called The Inclusion Conference) has always been an event with a difference. One of the reasons for re-naming this gathering was to reduce the chances of people believing they were coming to a conventional conference. It’s more an experience than a conference, and it is about putting inclusion into practice – living it rather than studying it.

A couple of years ago, it became a self-catering event, incorporating ‘Come Dine With Me’ evenings, to both ensure it was affordable and to create additional opportunities for getting to know a few people you didn’t previously know. For several people the experience of being invited to someone else’s cottage for dinner, and inviting people round for dinner, was a highlight.

There’s no formal organisation behind the event. It’s planned and organised by a few people, who meet together in their own time, eat lots of cakes, and who eventually devise a way for people to be able to link up, connect, be themselves and be with others. It can seem a little chaotic at first, but it soon falls into place as we collectively create a safe place where everyone is welcomed and appreciated for their gifts and talents. The event requires people to be inclusive and to figure out how we accommodate everyone within the ICE community with a range of different needs.

 It’s a great place to practice random acts of kindness.

For the majority, it will unfold into a unique experience – an inclusive community experience. Problems, difficulties and issues will no doubt arise, and in a conventional conference our job is to point these out. But at ICE, we have a passive, detached, role that encourages an arm-chair critic perspective. At the Inclusive Community Experience, we all have an active role that promotes responsibility. “What can I do to help sort this out?” becomes the question. There’s a mixture of planned participatory sessions, and plenty of informal time to connect with existing or new friends.

It’s a brilliant three days, and we look forward to welcoming you to 2016’s Inclusive Community Experience at Ribby Hall in Blackpool.

Owen Cooper

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