On the 5th and 6th October 2022, Gloucestershire Constabulary welcomed members and affiliates of the National Black Police Association to Cheltenham Racecourse for the organisation’s annual conference. The theme for the conference was ‘Institutional Racism: the facts behind the headlines’ and featured talks sparking important conversation around discrimination issues in the UK from the likes of ex-Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq and police reform campaigner Mina Smallman.
The NBPA is a key agent in tackling racism and diversity issues within the UK Police Force and improving relationships between the police and ethnic minority communities. After headlines in recent years highlighting the still prominent issue of racism, such as the George Floyd case, the association is an integral player in changing the patterns of police behaviour.
Over the last 10 months, NR Events took on production management for the NBPA Conference, working with the Events and Campaigns Officers at Gloucestershire Constabulary to organise an event that could be the benchmark for future conferences hosted by other constabularies. We had heard that Belfast was one to compete with, however we could not trace any photos of what the event looked like so we were essentially working from a blank template.
There were many factors we had to be considerate of when planning for the conference as it would be catering for so many different cultural backgrounds. This includes, setting up prayer rooms, ensuring that all meat served was halal or there were vegetarian options, and dealing with highly sensitive personal data when delegates booked tickets through their police emails. It was also important for us that the branding of the event was consistent throughout. The designer, Christian from C+H Collective was great in pulling together striking assets from the stage banner, to conference programme, to the gala dinner menus.
Welcome Event at Tivoli Cinema:
On Tuesday 4th October, delegates were welcomed to Cheltenham at the new Tivoli Cinema in the town’s Regent Arcade. The stylish setting offered guests a chance to network during drinks and high quality bowl food, whilst showcasing archive and local filmmakers works in some of the screens. The short films covered topics such as the first black Police Constable in Gloucestershire and documentaries about modern day racism issues people still face in the UK.
The Welcome Event also featured short speeches from people such as the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary and members of the Gloucestershire Ethic Minority Association.
The evening set the tone for the rest of the event, to showcase Gloucestershire in a smart and professional light and demonstrate the high standard we wanted to achieve for the whole conference.
The Conference at Cheltenham Racecourse:
Cheltenham Racecourse was host to a day and a half of conference for the NBPA on the 5th and 6th of October. Nearly 300 delegates attended Day 1 and 2 which had numerous keynote speakers, debates, and panel sessions. The Hall of Fame entrance provided exhibition stands from the likes of the College of Policing and the RAF Police, alongside refreshments and lunches each day.
Day 1 was focused around keynote speakers, beginning with Ron Hampton and Jacqueline Edwards who had travelled from the USA and Canada to speak. There were many thought-provoking conversations that took place and sparked much discussion on the online questions portal we had set up prior to the event, Slido. This was all hosted by award-winning journalist, Poorna Bell.
Day 2 had more discussion opportunities with a panel debate from the morning speakers rounding the day off to conclude the conference at lunchtime. The day was still quite speaker-heavy and we struggled with time constraints, especially with trying to fit in an unannounced speaker into the agenda with little notice.
Despite this, we had many comments on how well the conference was run and the high calibre of the speakers that ourselves and the Constabulary had managed to secure.
Gala Dinner, Awards, and Live Entertainment:
Guests were invited to dress up for a black tie event on the evening of the first conference day. The Centaur was transformed in two hours with fresh tablecloths, chair covers, centre pieces, a dancefloor, and more.
The evening began with delegates arriving on red carpet, greeted by a local steel drum player and a drink on arrival. It was important for us to have quality non-alcoholic options due to many attendees religious views. Many guests took photos in front of the branded NBPA banner before heading into The Centaur when doors opened to begin a night of entertainment.
A three course meal was served, before the short awards ceremony took place. The awards celebrated numerous officers who had made great contributions towards the advancements in equality and tackling racism issues. These titles included ‘Community Champion’ and ‘Excellence in Race Equality Leadership Award’.
To round of the night, local charity The Music Works sourced entertainment in the form of cover band Soulection and DJ KevIn Clubs. They had the room up dancing throughout the rest of the night and celebrated music from lots of different cultural backgrounds.
Partners of the event:
We were lucky enough to work with many great brands, organisations, and charities for the NBPA Conference 2022.
The chosen charity that the NBPA supported this year was The Music Works. They work with young people in Gloucestershire from disadvantaged backgrounds to give them opportunities in music performance and production that they may not have access to elsewhere. The raffle tickets being sold throughout the event raised money for the charity which a great amount of attendees were happy to show support to.
The Hall of Fame at the racecourse was host to exhibition stands where delegates could get involved in activities and find out more about new plans and policies the organisations had put in place to tackle diversity issues.
We were fortunate to receive some generous donations from John Lewis who provided the stage furniture. This gave a really professional look to the stage and fit in with the red, black, and gold colour theme. A business selling in John Lewis, The Big Bloom Room, also provided the stage flowers and table centre arrangements which gave the final touches to a detailed setup at the gala dinner.
We are extremely pleased with how the National Black Police Association Conference came together and grateful to have worked with many different people who contributed to various parts of the event. The event ran really smoothly overall and we believe that we achieved our initial aim of setting the benchmark for future NBPA conferences.