Communities 1st Conference 2022

Our Annual Conference and AGM for the voluntary, community, faith, and social enterprise sector and partners.

On Thursday 20 July 2022, Communities 1st were delighted to host our first in person Conference and AGM since 2019, at Oaklands College in St Albans.

We were privileged to welcome inspiring speakers whose work is having a tremendous impact on our communities. Attendees also had the opportunity to attend one to one funding advice sessions, network and browse the marketplace of information stands.

It was a fantastic afternoon, offering valuable insight and learning to all.  

Click here to view the day's programme in a new tab.

In the drop-down sections below, you will be able to learn about the talks and workshops that were delivered at the event. Scroll down further to read a bio on each of our speakers.

Keynote Address

Our Key Note Speech was delivered by Robyn Knox, Emergencies Partnership Director of VCSEP (Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership.

It covered How the Cost of Living Crisis is Impacting the Voluntary Sector. If you would like to view the presentation, please click here.

Talks and Workshops

Building a Resilient Organisation - How to Make Your Board Better

Presented by Sue Pearlman, Better Boards Action Learning Facilitator for Herts Community Foundation and Communities 1st Trustee, and Helen Gray, Foundation Director of Herts Community Foundation.

If you would like to view the presentation, click here.

How Faith Groups and the Voluntary Sector Can Work Together

Delivered by Daniel Singleton, National Executive Director of Faith Action.

If you would like to view the presentation, click here.

Making Collaboration Work

Presented by John O'Callaghan, Partnership Director of Herts Sports Partnership.

If you would like to view the presentation, click here.

Creating Financial Resilience

Delivered by Charlotte Stannard and Debbie Wildridge, both Development Officers of Locality.

If you would like to view the presentation, click here.

Inclusive Volunteering and Disabled People

Presented by Véronique Jochum, Social Research Consultant and former Head of Research at NCVO, and Dr Daiga Kamerade, Reader in Work and Well-being at the School of Health and Society, University of Salford. These presenters also co-authored 'Volunteering Together', which was funded by Spirit of 2012.

If you would like to view the presentation, click here.

How Educational Organisations Can Work with the Voluntary Sector

Delivered by Caroline Cooper of Oaklands College.

If you would like to view the presentation, click here.


Robyn Knox, Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership

Robyn Knox
Emergencies Partnership Director, Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership


Robyn is responsible for leading the development and delivery of more human and community-centred responses in major emergencies via a network of over 300 community and specialist organisations.  Robyn’s background is in organisational change and transformation leading major change programmes and initiatives in the private, public and charitable sectors. Robyn joined the British Red Cross in 2015 – and has led significant strategic programmes to reshape and evolve the way the organisation works, and in 2019/20 set out exciting new aspirations for the future, through developing the Red Cross’ 2030 Strategy. Robyn was first involved in Emergency Response in evaluating the response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.  Robyn joined the Emergencies Partnership in April 2020, helping to shape and lead the partnership’s response to the pandemic and the many emergencies that have followed.  She heads up a team of 11 people to help enable improved insight, stronger more trusted relationships and improved capability across the voluntary and community sector and our partners in local and national government.

The Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership is a partnership of community and specialist voluntary and community sector, academic, local and national government organisations, formed in response to learnings from several national crises in 2017. Our partners recognise that a more coordinated approach to emergency planning and response across our partners within and beyond the voluntary sector was needed and the Emergencies Partnership is helping to make this a reality.

The Emergencies Partnership drives a network of networks, providing open spaces our partners and their networks to come together, build trusted connections, share knowledge and insight and strengthen skills and capability to ensure support reaches those in need more effectively.

Sue Pearlman, Hertfordshire Community Foundation

Sue Pearlman
HCF Better Boards Action Learning Facilitator and Communities 1st Trustee


Sue has worked in the charity sector for over 30 years. She is a former charity CEO and since 2004, has been a consultant to charities, advising boards of trustees and senior management of charities of all sizes. She is passionate about good governance and understands the challenges for both trustees and their staff. She mentors charity CEOs and is also a trustee of a new charity Wellspring. She is an associate with the Lloyds Bank Foundation and Hertfordshire Community Foundation where she is the Lead Trainer on Governance. She was formerly a Chair of the predecessor of Communities 1st, Community Action Hertsmere, and is delighted to be part of Communities 1st. She relaxes by singing in a choir, watching ballet, and being with her grandchildren in the UK and Spain. She is also a carer for her husband who has Parkinsons Disease.

Helen Gray, Hertfordshire Community Foundation

Helen Gray
Foundation Director
Hertfordshire Community Foundation


Helen joined Hertfordshire Community Foundation in 2017 as HCF’s fourth Foundation Director having worked previously in both the charity and corporate sectors.

Prior to joining HCF Helen worked for St Albans Cathedral where she managed a multimillion pound capital fundraising appeal after which she was promoted to Head of Operations.

Her earlier career included business development roles at both CMS Cameron McKenna (a top ten city law firm) and Baker Tilly (a national accountancy firm) where she was a Regional Business Development Manager.

Véronique Jochum, Independent Social Research Consultant

Véronique Jochum
Social research consultant and former Head of Research at NCVO


Véronique, formerly Head of Research at NCVO, is now a freelance social research consultant. Véronique has substantial experience of designing, managing and delivering research projects and supporting organisations to think about the implications of research findings for their work. Much of her research has been on volunteering and social action, including high profile projects such as Pathways through Participation and Time Well Spent. She has always been committed to communicating findings in a compelling way to policy, practitioner and community audiences. Véronique is a trustee of Forest Recycling Project in Walthamstow and volunteers for Age UK Waltham Forest.

Veronique is co-author of Volunteering Together, which was funded by Spirit of 2012, the social legacy funder from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Spirit of 2012 is particularly interested in how to ensure events, physical activity, culture and volunteering can be more inclusive for disabled and non-disabled people. Find out more at

Dr Daiga Kamerade, The University of Salford

Dr Daiga Kamerade
Reader in Work and Well-being, School of Health and Society
University of Salford


Daiga is an experienced lecturer and researcher and has been working at various universities in the UK and abroad for nearly twenty years. Daiga joined the University of Salford in October 2016 from the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham. Prior to this Daiga worked at the University of Manchester and was awarded a PhD from the University of Cambridge for a study on how working conditions affects workers’ engagement in voluntary organizations. Daiga has also been involved in data collection and analysis consultancy work for numerous private and public sector organizations.

Daiga is co-author of Volunteering Together, which was funded by Spirit of 2012, the social legacy funder from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Spirit of 2012 is particularly interested in how to ensure events, physical activity, culture and volunteering can be more inclusive for disabled and non-disabled people. Find out more at

Daiga’s areas of research are Work, Employment, Well-being, Voluntary work, Mental health


John O’Callaghan, Herts Sports Partnership

John O’Callaghan
Partnership Director
Herts Sports Partnership (HSP)


John joined the Partnership in 2007 and took over reins as Director in October 2015. John is responsible for overseeing the HSP staff team and for effective engagement with the Board, hosts – the University of Hertfordshire – and the wider partnership in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of HSP Strategic Plan.

John has over 35 years’ sector relevant experience including several years as a Director of Leisure and Cultural Services within a Unitary Authority. John also spent three years as a full time volunteer within a multi-sport community club setting, so knows first-hand the fantastic work undertaken by our clubs, and the considerable challenges that they face in sustaining their operations. John is passionate about sport and physical activity as a cost effective vehicle for positive social change, in making our communities safer and better places to live and work and in improving the life chances of our young people.

John is very proud of the Partnership’s achievements and reputation as a reliable, collaborative and pro-active organisation. John wants to ensure that any individual or organisation that is part of the sport and physical activity landscape in Hertfordshire, is able to connect to HSP and that HSP are empathetic, knowledgeable and responsive. It is imperative that HSP continue to make a positive impact and add value through their work, in meeting the needs of both funders, and those communities that HSP serve – and that HSP work closely with colleagues in local government through an insight led, evidence based approach to achieve this.

Daniel Singleton, FaithAction

Daniel Singleton
National Executive Director


Daniel Singleton has been the National Executive Director of FaithAction since 2007. In this role, Daniel has become an influential advocate for faith in a number of government departments, highlighting the significant contribution of faith-based organisations to communities across the UK. As part of FaithAction’s mission to connect government with grassroots organisations, Daniel also meets regularly with FaithAction member groups to help them develop in their social action.

Daniel is a sought-after speaker on such topics as the role of faith in local services, how community groups can partner with government, and how to engage the community in local action. As a member of the UK Government’s Places of Worship Taskforce, Daniel is playing a key role advising government and helping faith leaders navigate COVID-19, lockdown and recovery.

Before his work with FaithAction, Daniel worked as a history teacher in a London secondary school and later as training and development manager for a large voluntary-sector organisation in East London.


Locality is the national membership network supporting local community organisations to be strong and successful.


Locality supports local community organisations to be strong and successful. Their national network of 1,400 members helps hundreds of thousands of people every week. Locality offer specialist advice, peer learning and campaign with members for a fairer society. Together we unlock the power of community.

Oaklands College

Oaklands College
Oaklands College are a large further education college in Hertfordshire with campuses in Welwyn Garden City and St Albans, and a further training provision in Borehamwood.


Originally established in 1921, the St Albans Campus opened its doors to First World War ex-service men under the Officers’ Agricultural Training Scheme and to the Women’s Land Army members.

Since then, the college has developed a wide range of learning opportunities, offering courses across a diverse range of subjects at different levels.

There are approximately 1,500 full- and part-time courses offered to around 10,000 students who come from a wide variety of regions. These courses range from vocational courses with strong links to employers through to elite sports, the arts and a wide variety of A Levels.  Oaklands College are also nationally recognised for outstanding provision for learners with mild and severe learning difficulties.