Session 2 – Overview

Hannah Taylor – Regeneration Through Culture: Building Spaces for Community Projects

Hannah’s talk was a hard-hitting look at the statistics and possibilities that can happen if we include arts in community development. Investing in people and community spaces makes regeneration possible.

“I believe in my community, not institutions.”

The message of community, of the power of collective, not individuals, is at the core of Hannah’s talk.
She reminds us that together as a community, we can do a lot for our city.

“There are over 100 empty spaces in Wolverhampton.”

Using art, community, and determination, we can revolutionise our environment and give people more access to spaces that are so desperately needed.


Nathan Coyle – Open Data, Smart Cities and Communities, Let’s Cut the Crap!

Nathan’s talk opened up with a definition of Smart Cities and Open Data. He briefly explained the difficulties in using and identifying these phrases, using techno-speak, as it’s not the language of the community that it serves.

His talk focused on how access to public services and support can be hindered by a lack of familiarity in the language used.

“We need less Silicon Valley and more Sandwell Valley”


Zoe Bennett – Mindset Gap. Get Out of Your Own Way

Zoe’s talk revealed an emotional, personal story of grief and the shock of dealing with such a raw set of events. She talked about her own response to heightened trauma and how to take a step back and control your responses. Emotional trauma does not discriminate: something she learned on her journey.

“Take the emotion out and put the passion in… Don’t react, respond.”

Passionately talking about finding inner strength to choose how to respond to difficult circumstances and situations, she encouraged the audience to seek justice and be brave.

“There is no shame in mental health. The only shame is with those who are judge-mental.”

To repeat her final words, be kind to yourself and get out of your own way.


Sunny Dhadley – Activating Lived Experience to Create Social Change

Sunny opened his talk with a personal tale of overcoming addiction and the struggles of accessing help and support. He posed a question to us all that he had asked himself in the height of his struggles

“What could someone like me do for the world?”

One of the things his talk centred on was the power of lived experience. We all have lived experience that can be used to improve our communities, Sunny activating his, to help others in his community.

The one thing we can learn from Sunny’s talk was that we all have knowledge and experience that is relevant to our community.



Session 2 ended with a dance performance from Jivan Kandola. The amazing fusion of Drake’s God’s Plan with Bhangra elements heightened the energy and enthusiasm of her performance. The audience were transfixed with the performance and entertained further with Jivan giving the hosts an impromptu dance lesson.