A view from Conservative Party Conference

The mood at Conservative Party Conference was upbeat and confident, despite a difficult start with defections and a resignation.

It’s a common criticism of party conferences that they are mainly attended by corporate lobbyists. However, Conservative Party Conference still attracts a core of local councillors and party members, young and old. The ‘party faithful’ responded very enthusiastically to the main speeches from the leading party figures.

Yes, Minister

The voluntary sector had the unusual experience of welcoming a new minister just 24 hours before party conference began.

Brooks Newmark was scheduled to speak at more fringe events than any other MP. New Civil Society Minister Rob Wilson was originally not intending to attend conference, but he honourably attended as many of these speaking engagements as possible.

Understandably, he could do little more than say how pleased he was on his appointment and follow the agreed line on flagship policies like social investment and National Citizen Service.

David Cameron used his conference speech to announce that a Conservative government in 2015 would substantially expand NCS so that every young person has a guaranteed place.

Better together

I recently blogged on the cost and benefits of attending party conferences and running events. One way to lower the costs is to work in partnership with other organisations.

The Youth Zone has been an excellent example of this, with voluntary organisations like the Scout Association and UK Youth working with external partners like Barclays and the CIPD.

The collaboration between so many organisations meant they were able to create a youth hub in the fringe with a full programme of events, at a lower cost for each individual organisation.

Stay connected

We have put together a guide to party conferences for the voluntary sector. It includes tips for getting the most out of your time and recommended fringe events. The guide is free to download for members.

NCVO are attending all three conferences. Follow @ncvoaidan for updates from the Liberal Democrat conference. If you are attending or running a stand or event, we would love to hear from you.

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Charlotte was our senior external relations officer and public affairs consultant. She has left NCVO

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