My facilitation skills were invaluable in delivering this webinar for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) as the MYT Programme Lead on the Inclusive Futures / Sightsavers Events Team.  I worked closely with the core delivery team from the FCDO and Inclusive Futures and it felt wonderful to be part of such a large team, committed to delivering deveolopment programmes that are disability-inclusive.

The webinar programme felt very ‘whole’ and inclusive, with an agenda that was action-packed with keynote reflections, presentations and videos from many different organisations as well as individual voices from disability inclusive responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.  We heard from The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, International Disability Alliance, Innovation to Inclusion consortium as well as from Inclusive Futures;  the webinar was chaired beautifully by Jazz Shaban, the DPO Engagement Manager at Leonard Cheshire and one of the Bond Disability and Development Group co-chairs and Gordon Rattray, International Cooperation Officer from the European Disability Forum.

In order to smoothly deliver this webinar with so many different speakers and content, it was essential to understand the full programme and objectives and create a detailed running order.  I always plan thoroughly for any high profile webinars, running a shaping meeting as well as a technical rehearsal and aim to keep all participants up to date throughout the process. The team gathered all of the content in advance and where possible we had scripts we could share with our Closed Captioner and Sign Interpreters to ensure that they were able to provide accurate content.  All of this detailed preparation meant that on the day everyone involved entered an organised and calm practice room where we can run final tests and checks before we go live on time.  For me, creating this calm atmosphere is key to the success.

I tend to open with our welcoming housekeeping where we ensure our audience is aware of how to access the captions and any additional technical or accessibility support they might need throughout the event.  As the programme lead, I am there to support and ensure everything runs smoothly and if need be step in to resolve any technical issues.  We had so much support from the extended team and our planning was so thorough, I am delighted to say the webinar went completely to plan and there was no need for me to step in.

I absolutely loved being part of this event – when we met for our virtual debrief there was such a fantastic atmosphere and it felt so good to have been part of the team!  It was amazing to hear the huge positives that are coming out of these new virtual platforms as we talked about how ‘this is the way forward’, ‘no more travel challenges or arriving in hotel rooms that are missing a ramp’….

The more virtual events we run the more it feels like a ‘leveller’… we are hearing from more ‘voices’, we are breaking down barriers between ‘head and regional offices’ and hierachies within organisations, we are using technology to ensure our events are accessible so we are reaching out to a wider, global audience … so whilst the Covid-19 pandemic is isolating, we are also coming together and finding commonality, solidarity and hope!

I would thoroughly recommend watching this engaging webinar which is available via the Inclusive Futures website, click here to watch and download the presentations.

Inclusive Futures are disability and development specialists and global leaders from 16 organisations coming together under one initiative funded by UK aid from the UK government. Their goal is to ensure opportunities for people with disabilities and a future that’s disability inclusive.