Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is uniquely placed as both an anti-poverty campaigning organisation and a debt advice charity. Its affiliation with the church also differentiates it from other similar organisations and gives it links with specific groups and influencers, especially at a community level, which other organisations may not have access to.
Having a presence at annual political Party Conferences is an important way for CAP to influence policy and gain a ‘share of voice’ on key policy issues. However, in Summer 2022, the team was in the process of trying to recruit a new Social Policy Manager and had a gap in skill and resource to support with the strategic approach to maximising its involvement in these events.
Senior External Affairs Manager Rachel Gregory approached Engage Comms because of our experience of working with organisations in the debt and other sectors to influence policy and maximise their presence at events, to provide interim consultancy support. While CAP’s in-house events team could deal with the logistics, our expertise and contacts were required to set the strategy, shape the narrative around relevant key topics and agendas, and maximise CAP’s exposure and impact at the Party Conferences.
CAP wanted to host standalone fringe events at both the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool at the end of September and the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham at the beginning of October, but needed to justify the investment in time, resource, and money in doing so by ensuring that these events have maximum long-term impact on the organisation’s key policy objectives. One of the biggest challenges was gaining ‘stand out’ from all the other organisations that would be exhibiting and presenting, particularly direct ‘competitors’ in the debt and poverty space.
There was the option to outsource the Conservative event development to a think tank and focus efforts on the Labour event, which offered the best of both worlds in terms of reducing the resource intensity and tailoring the approach to each of the political parties. However, it was important to ensure that there would be consistency across the presence at both events.
Engage Comms was tasked with fully project managing the Labour fringe event including coming up with a title and narrative, sourcing a panel of expert speakers, and promoting the event, as well as helping to maximise exposure for the Conservative think tank event.
Read about the ‘Hope in a time of crisis: Addressing the long-term impact of debt-induced poverty’ event we created here.
The Chair we sourced and briefed, Mick McAteer (an experienced advocate for economic and social justice), said it was a “great expert panel” and that our briefing was “excellent, so helpful, made my job very easy indeed” and overall feedback was that it was one of the most diverse and high profile fringe event panels of the Conference, resulting in strong audience participation and tangible outcomes for CAP.