SWM hold an annual networking event for their members so that they can meet and learn from each other’s sustainability expertise, with the view to nurture future collaborations within our sector. We have previously held the ‘Summer Social’ in-person back in 2019 at Ricoh Headquarters in Telford and the (Late) Summer Social via Zoom in September 2021.
For 2022, SWM decided to take a different approach to this exclusive networking opportunity. How? We forged an essential collaboration with members ‘SPACE-2 Group’ early doors, champions in sustainable TV and zero waste events and designed a unique engaging event which was authentic to our sustainability principles. Members of SWM’s Board, new Young Director and newly formed ‘External Advisory Committee’ (EAC) were also asked to come along and meet our members and take part in SWM’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). We incorporated previous feedback on speed networking being a useful vehicle to meet others and created ‘Musical Speed Networking’ and ‘Pass the Parcel of Plenaries’ at the end to keep everyone engaged whilst winding down.
The venue – ‘Neighbourhood’ at Camden Street
SPACE-2 Group had negotiated utilising the former BMW used car showroom through their endeavours with landlords HBD (Henry Boot Developments) for their zero waste events. As a former car showroom, the space was vast and provided plenty of opportunity to hold inclusive events, so SPACE-2 Group secured it on behalf of SWM for the Mingle & AGM. SPACE-2 Group also provided all furniture on the day, with all chairs and tables being reclaimed from previous TV sets, including a fabulous striking chillout sofa rescued from BBC’s ‘Killing Eve’ series! We ensured that there were plenty of quite spaces for working and a designated ‘faith room’, to address inclusivity requirements of attendees.
Aims of the Mingle & AGM
- SWM members to meet and network with each other, the External Advisory Committee, the SWM Board and the SWM Team
2. Establish other key contacts that can support and/ or further your organisations’ sustainability goals
3. Carry out SWM’s AGM
On the day, the Mingle & AGM had over 75 attendees and over 50 different cross-sector organisations represented from our members, EAC and Board.
Who came along to the Mingle?
- Aston University
- Big Solar Coop
- Boningale Ltd
- carbonTRACK UK
- Climate Change Solutions
- Contented Ltd
- DeterTech UK Limited
- Disability Arts in Shropshire
- Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI)
- Energy System Catapult Ltd
- EnTRESS – University of Wolverhampton
- Environment Agency
- EVC Solutions Ltd
- Hill and Smith PLC
- ICE – EAC
- Koru Consulting
- Let’s Sanify
- Locke Williams Associates
- Low Carbon Homes Ltd
- Midlands Arts Centre
- Missfit Creations
- Morzak Limited
- Mott MacDonald Ltd
- National Express West Midlands
- Oxford Greentech
- Severn Trent Water
- Solihull MBC
- SPACE-2 Group
- Stafford Borough Council
- Sustainability West Midlands
- SWM EAC
- The Charity Shop Gift Card
- The Technology Supply Chain
- University of Birmingham
- Warwick Creations
- West Midlands Fire Service
- Whistle PR
- Window Insulation Ltd
- Winning Moves
- Worcester City Council
- Worcestershire County Council
- Worksmith – Recruiting for Sustainable Growth
- Wylde Connections Limited
Outline of the event
We started the Mingle & AGM with locally sourced refreshments, free networking and a chance to speak our exhibiting members and get to know their diverse sustainability offers. These ranged from innovative security systems and window insulation solutions to, regional clean travel operators, to vintage clothing upcycling.
After an hour of arrival, attendees were asked to move into the main presentation area, whereby Alan Carr was the expert master of ceremonies linking all elements with panache. Julie Pope then started the day with an animated presentation on a ‘Brief History of Membership, with some refreshing changes ahead’. This included some key statistics on SWM’s most successful year of membership and plan to develop the diverse set of membership services into a resource for other members and the public sector.
This was followed by a Q&A session by SPACE-2 Group’s Louise White and Warwick Events’ Emma Wellstead, on the importance of zero waste events as the norm; ‘It’s not just about bins you know’, led by SPACE-2 Group’s Director, Mark Hughes-Webb. SPACE-2 Group then gave some insightful storytelling of some of the reclaimed furniture at the event and asked attendees to turn their old schools’ chairs around check the date on the underside and guess whether they are older or younger than their chair!
We then embarked on ‘Seven Swaps for Seven Members’, the musical speed networking session. The premise being that members would have seven minutes to chat to others, interluded with thirty seconds of music to get up and move to another member to network with. This proved a successful engaging way of getting attendees energised and meeting others and had a buzz of voices that filled the large showroom throughout the entire session.
Everyone had another opportunity to free network and replenish themselves with refreshments and this was followed by SWM’s AGM, led by Andrew Pollard, SWM Chair. After a reflective presentation on environmental issues and SWM’s unique position from Andrew, the AGM was conducted and concluded successfully.
After another small break and opportunity to network, SWM Chief Executive Anna Bright, gave a presentation on ‘SWM’s Growth and Future’. This centred on an unprecedented year of success for SWM and the opportunities this generates for members and all stakeholders.
Alan introduced the Pass the Parcel of Plenaries and after a brief demonstration from Julie, members were invited to unwrap a parcel (made from old newspaper) with probing questions on sustainability within each layer. The member who unwrapped the middle was treated to a years’ free membership with SWM.
The event finished with another hour for stakeholders to lunch and network more.
Feedback on the day from Minglers
97% of Minglers said the event was ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ in terms of content and achieving the three aims of the Mingle.