SWM hold an annual networking event for our 180+ 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, the (Late) Summer Social via Zoom in September 2021 and the 2022 Members Mingle at ‘Neighbourhood’ in central Birmingham.
In 2023, the event was hosted by the wonderful Midlands Arts Centre, who are themselves SWM members and are doing great work in progressing and promoting sustainability in the arts sector and their local community. Members of SWM’s Board, our new Young Director and External Advisory Committee (EAC) were also invited to come along and meet our members and take part in SWM’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Aims of the Mingle & AGM
1. Hear from speakers highlighting the state of progress on climate action in the region, including Professor Martin Freer from the University of Birmingham and Deborah Kermode, Chief Executive & Artistic Director at Midlands Arts Centre.
2. Be provided with an engaging networking opportunity to share knowledge and best practice supporting SWM’s Roadmap to 2030.
3. Hear from SWM on our reflections on the last year and future plans, and deliver the formal business of the Annual General Meeting:
- a. Receive Directors’ Report and Annual Accounts for 2022-23
- b. Ratify new Directors and members appointed by the Board since the previous AGM on 29 November 2022
Over 100 people registered for the Mingle & AGM from over 50 different cross-sector organisations representing our members, EAC and Board.
Who came along to the Mingle?
- A Good Thing CIC
- Accelar Limited
- Acivico Group Ltd
- Aston University
- AVACE Ltd
- Black Country Living Museum
- CamProf (Cambridge Professional Development Ltd)
- Castle Bromwich Hall and Gardens Trust
- Children’s Air Ambulance
- Climate Change Solutions Ltd
- Cognition Cloud
- CrowdHouse Energy
- DeterTech UK Limited
- Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI), Aston University
- Fleet Evolution
- Hemiko Ltd
- Highly Sprung Performance
- Hill & Smith PLC
- Institution of Civil Engineers
- Kindred CSR
- Konduit Ltd
- Koru Consulting Ltd
- Low Carbon Homes Ltd
- Medilink Midlands
- Midlands Arts Centre
- Misfits Music Foundation
- National Express West Midlands
- National Grid
- Nazir Associates
- Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council
- NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit
- Plant Carbon
- Prominent Digital
- Rockfine Group Ltd
- Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
- Sarah Stone Marketing
- Severn Trent
- Solihull College & University Centre
- Staffordshire County Council
- Sustainability Changemakers
- The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products
- The Charity Shop Gift Card
- The Marketing Trainer
- University of Birmingham
- West Midlands Combined Authority
- West Midlands Fire Service
- Window Insulation Limited
- Winning Moves
- Worcestershire County Council
- World Wide Generation
- Zero Carbon Academy
Outline of the event
Alan Carr kicked off the day as our master of ceremonies, setting all attendees up with their festive bingo cards, to see who could tick off the most sustainability-related buzzwords over the course of the morning (winners listed below).
Next, we heard from Deborah Kermode, Chief Executive at Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), our truly inspiring host venue. Deborah ran us through a variety of installations, exhibitions and initiatives that MAC have delivered recently. She explained how MAC make it their business to work with artists who are communicating social and environmental issues and how they want to use art as a place for discussion and for communities to come together. At the upcoming Leisure as Resistance exhibition, at MAC from March to June 2024, they seek to provide a platform to support conversations and activities topics such as the regeneration of natural resources, the climate crisis or the concept of resistance through leisure.
We then heard from our keynote speaker Professor Martin Freer, who highlighted key challenges in the decarbonisation of the energy sector, such as grid capacity and connectivity, how to handle high energy prices and questions around carbon capture, utilisation and storage. He recounted some examples of the progress being made in the region, such as the West Midlands now having the largest fleet of hydrogen buses in Europe. Professor Freer then walked us through various University of Birmingham projects including the Climate Innovation Platform, the UK’s largest green hydrogen refuelling station at Tyseley Energy Park, the delivery of a Smart Campus and the proposed National Centre for the Decarbonisation of Heat.
To round off the first half of the event, SWM’s own Anna Bright, Morgan Roberts, Beck Collins and Alan Carr brought delegates up to speed with the various projects underway at SWM. This includes our Roadmap to 2030, management of the West Midlands Net Zero Business Pledge for the WMCA, running the Innovative Zero Carbon Working Group (IZCWG) as part of the Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands and supporting public and private sector organisations across the region to be able to adapt to the increasing effects of climate change.
After a short break to mingle, meet exhibitors and grab some refreshments, delegates returned for a session of discussion and networking. With tables focused around SWM’s eight Roadmap themes, as well as other pertinent issues such as net zero, green finance and communications, everyone had a chance to circulate and strike conversations around the topics of most interest to them. This was also a chance for people to flag the areas that they either need support with, or can provide support for, sharing their contact details for follow-up.
Last but not least, SWM Chair Andrew Pollard led a roundup of both the day and of the previous year, sharing his thoughts on both past and future and conducting the formal businesss of the AGM, welcoming new members and Board Directors, and signing off the annual accounts for 2022-2023. Andrew then opened the floor to questions and suggestions, prompting some thoughtful and thought-provoking ideas and insights from attendees.
The event finished with a networking lunch.
Sustainability bingo winners
- The Air Ambulance Service
- NHS Midlands & Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit
- A Good Thing
- Black Country Living Museum
Feedback on the day from Minglers