What’s your wish for the new year?

That’s the question that’s been asked in a few meetings I’ve been in recently.

The answer has been pretty unanimous: we’re looking forward to getting together in person again.

Two years ago, in February 2020, over 3,000 people from the voluntary sector came together to meet new people, share ideas and learn from each other. The following month, we went into lockdown.

We’ve endured a rollercoaster of restrictions, the pressure of having to transform services overnight, soaring demand for our services and so many different challenges, both personally and professionally. However, as we start a new year, we can look forward with optimism for the year ahead.

We know that the voluntary sector has never been more needed than in the past 22 months. There are so many stories of how organisations have responded rapidly to the needs of individuals and communities. We celebrated of these amazing stories at The Scottish Charity Awards, which were held online in October.

However, while the use of technology has enabled us to do amazing things, improve productivity and make events more accessible, it has also made us tired. There’s plenty of evidence around why we feel ‘Zoom fatigue’, when we miss the uniquely human cues that make in person conversations much more satisfying.

We’re also missing the spontaneous conversations that occur when we bump into people, the joy of a hug with someone you’ve not seen in ages, and the opportunity to have chat to someone we haven’t met before, without a tightly defined agenda.


The ability some of us have had to work from home has also been advantageous. We’re commuting less and able to spend more time with family, friends and pets. But it’s also made us feel reluctant to step away from the screen to think, reflect and learn.

We’re therefore very excited to be launching The Gathering, which will take place on the 15th and 16th June. We’re looking forward to getting together again, in person, to reflect on what we’ve learned and achieved. We hope it will provide the time and space for people to step away from their day-to-day work and have conversations in different ways, with new people as well as old friends.

We’ll obviously be doing things a bit differently this year to make sure it’s a safe and comfortable environment for everyone, but we think it will be a particularly special event.

We’ve opened the call for applications to host an event, so if you’ve got ideas or learning you’d like to share at The Gathering in June, we’d love to hear from you.

We can’t wait to see you there, in real life.