English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

Making it happen: Housing Camp Cymru

Volunteer Jonathan Conway explains why he will be donning the florescent jacket for a second time, as a campmaker for Housing Camp Cymru.

I got involved in Housing Camp Cymru in 2015 when a friend and colleague invited me to join the group as a camp maker – the people who were organising the first event. I didn’t really know much about it, but thought I would go along and see what it was all about. That was when I found out what an unconference was. (You can find out for yourself on Saturday, July 9).

I’ve never really been a rule breaker or a disruptor. I may talk too much sometimes (ok, all the time), but on the whole, I’ve always worked within a structure. That was about to change… It turns out that, unlike traditional conferences, the delegates were in charge. The organisers were just there to grease the wheels and provide support. Not sure how I felt about this, I went along to the planning meetings with a gang of about ten of us (all in different roles and housing organisations) and offered what help I could. As time went on and the plans became clearer, I really got on board and as the date of Housing Camp Cymru got closer, I began to get excited.

Really excited.

The day arrived… a drizzly Saturday in Newbridge… we campmakers arrived an hour before the delegates and put on our yellow jackets and waited… what happened next was… well… It was fantastic!

Slowly, but surely people began to arrive. There were tenants, housing staff, chief executives, social media gurus, regeneration experts; a huge mix of people, from all sorts of backgrounds. People came from London, Leeds, North Wales, South Wales, though rain and train strikes, and they all wanted one thing. To get involved! Many people pitched an idea and every idea got a spot on the agenda. We were all there to talk about things that were important to us and we were given that opportunity.

On the day, my job was to time keep the sessions, to make sure that we could discuss all of the day’s successful pitches. This job, I think, gave me a unique and privileged insight into the day. I got to see every session and the passion that the people that had come along expressed for every discussion was empowering. We talked about innovation, social media, community centres, welsh language, universal credit and loads more. No topic was out of bounds and everyone jumped in with both feet, expressing their thoughts and coming up with ideas and solutions to move forwards with after the day had finished.

The day flew by. And before we knew it, the first Housing Camp Cymru was drawing to a close. Everyone was exhausted… and everyone was smiling.

Traditional conferences have their place and I would never say that we should move away from the altogether. However… an unconference, if Housing Camp Cymru 2015 is any example, allows people from a variety of backgrounds to work together on the things that matter and therefore allows new ideas and new collaborations to emerge in a way that traditional approaches don’t.

If you missed last year’s camp, I genuinely feel you missed out. It was vibrant, positive and worthwhile. Don’t miss this year’s opportunity. It’s your chance to be part of something epic.

Housing Camp Cymru is on Saturday July 9, 2016.


Free tickets can now be booked here www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/housing-camp-cymru-2016-tickets-25837377291

Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »