LARIA Chair’s Report

LARIA Annual General Meeting 2020
Chair’s Report, 2 June 2020

2020 is already a very different year. I don’t think anyone could have estimated the scale and impact that coronavirus would have on every aspect of our lives, families, friends and colleagues. LARIA too is having to deal with changing its plans and trying to navigate our way through the uncertain times ahead.

LARIA remains a membership organisation – run by volunteer members for the benefit of all its members. Our challenge is to continue to provide the networking and learning opportunities, support and information that we know our members value, whilst being able to survive financially.

Our two main sources of income are our events and our membership fees. These income streams go towards the costs of hosting and delivering our face-to-face events, managing our membership, and communicating with our members through emails and our website. This operating model has been in place for many years.

LARIA Council members, who are responsible for running LARIA, along with LARIA trustees were already discussing LARIA’s operating model prior to the pandemic. We held an away day to work through the options we have, with the aim of making a decision. The timing of this meeting was just before the UK went into lockdown.

The current and short-term future situation has brought into sharp focus the risks and potential opportunities we have in operating. These are critical times for LARIA and we want to make the best decisions we can, so that LARIA can continue to provide for its members, whilst being able to continue to exist.

We have deferred our annual conference from June to mid-October due to the pandemic. But even that date is still under review by LARIA Council in order that we safeguard the safety of our delegates, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. A final decision on the conference will be made in the council meeting held after the AGM.

LARIA operations

My sincere thanks to Tony Bovaird, who has stepped down this year as a trustees. Tony has been part of LARIA since its inception in 1974. He has provided many ideas, content, presentations and some challenge over the years, all delivered with immense insight, personality and wit. I and LARIA wish Tony all the very best.

Our trustees’ meetings, held in the autumn each year, continue to hold LARIA Council to account, and they support LARIA’s strategic direction. I thank the trustees for their continued backing and thank Andy for his input into those meetings.

As agreed last year, for the chairing of LARIA we have put in place the cycle of vice-chair designate, to vice-chair, to chair, each holding that position for two years. The election of a vice-chair designate will happen this year and I will step down as chair at the AGM in 2021.

LARIA activities

Our communications group has met virtually a number of times over the last 12 months. Some of the planned communication work would have been put in place for our June conference. That and other planned communication work have been put on hold, whilst we finalise our operating model and decide on the annual conference. Thank you to Juliet, Kate and Duncan for their work on communications.

Our partnership with CACI continues to work well. I thank CACI for its continued support and for the publications and blogs that it has produced. We do need other partnerships to join us, and this is an ongoing action for LARIA Council.

LARIA has been working with our Social Services Research Group (SSRG) in LARIA to determine the best way forward for SSRG. We have agreed that the current Research, Policy and Practice publication will be the last. We are working to find a suitable home to host the wealth of content that has been produced over the years.

Local LARIA

Some of our local LARIA groups have been very active, hosting events and providing regular communications to LARIA members in their regions. However, we still have patchy coverage across the UK, with a number of areas either not represented or not active.

Priority

Developing and agreeing LARIA’s operating model is the fundamental piece of work for LARIA Council to complete with the support of the LARIA trustees. We are committed to make sure that LARIA reaches its 50th birthday in 2024, and that it is able to celebrate this in style with a bright future ahead of it.

Mike Walker
LARIA Chair
May 2020

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