We think it’s time to have a party to celebrate all that we’ve learned over the last four decades, and to pay attention to what it might be teaching us for our shared futures.

The Festival will present those who attend with an opportunity to hear from practitioners, local residents and fellow ABCD enthusiasts from around the world about their community building efforts. So, if you are seeking stories of transformation, like-minded travellers, and folks willing to ask some ‘wicked’ questions, all against a backdrop of beautiful English countryside, then come and join us!

The Festival will be filled with music, dance, local food, pot-lunches and nourishing conversations.

We are expecting the founders of the ABCD Institute John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann, the leaders at the Coady International Institute, and many of the ABCD Institute Faculty. We will also be joined by fellow ABCDers from ABCD Asia Pacific and ABCD Europe. And we are inviting people from other citizen-led movements to share their learnings and muse with us.

The Festival is jointly hosted by the ABCD Institute, ABCD Europe, Coady International Institute, ABCD in Action, ABCD Asia Pacific and Bank of I.D.E.A.S.

So what is ABCD?

We think Peter Kenyon, from Bank of I.D.E.A.S, Australia captures the principles pretty nicely.

  • Meaningful and lasting community change always originates from within. Local residents in that community are the best experts on how to activate that change.
  • Community residents act responsibly when they care and support what they create.
  • Building and nourishing relationships is at the core of building healthy and inclusive communities.
  • Communities have never been built by dwelling on their deficiencies, needs and problems. Communities respond creatively when the focus is on resources, capacities, strengths and aspirations.
  • The strength of the community is directly proportional to the level that the diversity of its residents’ desire, and are able to contribute their abilities and assets to the well-being of their community. Every single person has capacities, abilities, gifts and ideas, and living a good life depends on whether those capacities can be used, abilities expressed, gifts given and ideas shared.
  • In every community, something works. Instead of asking “what’s wrong, and how to fix it,” ask “what’s worked and how do we get more of it?” It generates energy and creativity.
  • Creating positive change begins simply with conversation. It is the way human beings have always thought together and initiated action.
  • Having fun needs to be a high priority in all community-building efforts.
  • The central factor in sustainable change is local leadership and its continuous development and renewal.
  • The starting point for change is always mindset and positive attitudes.

So much more than a conference –  it’s more about making new connections and creating brilliant memories!!

My Life Social Enterprise is the little community organisation base in the NW of England that’s helping to co-ordinate and make this conference a reality. It’s a young organisation, established for nearly 3 years and has grown from the disability inclusion movement. Its mission: to create a community where everyone belongs. Its gift is about doing more with more and creating great spaces for people to come together and enjoy the company of others, without it costing the earth. My Life has held similar types of experiences for people from across the UK and is priviledged to be involved in this once in a lifetime opportunity. “All that we do is given in our own time and from the heart – we want to ensure that you have a great time and if we can help with anything we will”. For more information contact info@my-life.org.uk or visit www.my-life.org.uk

So how does it work?

It’s a tried and tested method of using an ABCD approach in action. We bring people together in great accommodation, with wonderful facilities, and we buy lots of local food. You will have a lot of guidance and support to be in the right place at the right time, so don’t worry. We will provide you with a hamper of local produce, clear instructions of if you are cooking or eating out each night, and even some top tips of where to buy your favourite tipple from.

Oh yes, the conference! The key notes and the amazing array of topic tents and entertainment are all happening, but it is the connection of people that we believe makes the difference. You will be part of a community of over 300 amazing people from all over the world. You will live, eat, laugh, share stories and problem-solve together, and join a positive movement for change. It’s not about us organising an event – it’s about all of us being part of creating a community where everyone belongs.

Study Tours

If you are travelling before the conference starts or are staying on afterwards, we have connections from all over the UK who would love you to visit. We will be happy to put you in touch, but will need at least 2 months’ notice for this to be possible. For more information contact info@my-life.org.uk

I need a visa to travel, can you offer a supporting letter?

Several conference delegates are travelling from overseas and will need a supporting letter. You will need to send all of the relevant information you need in the supporting letter to caroline@my-life.org.uk and we will do our very best to support your application.

Are there any discounts/free places for the conference?

The conference is being run in the most cost effective way as possible and everyone involved is voluntarily contributing their time to help. We do have scholarship places available – email us at info@my-life.org.uk for more details.

My English isn’t very good, will there be interpreters?

We will do our best to accommodate the needs of all of our guests, but before we rush out and book interpreters we need to fully understand your needs. Please tell us what you require by emailing info@my-life.org.uk

We are travelling a long way and want to arrive sooner, is this possible?

Unfortunately, the accommodation on site is now fully booked, so if you are intending on arriving earlier than 15 June you will need to find alternative accommodation. You may also wish to visit other places and have a look around our beautiful country. For more information see http://www.visitenglandsnorthwest.com

Is food included?

You will be given a welcome pack on arrival which will include essential provisions, such as milk, coffee, tea, sugar etc. You may prefer to eat out or cook for yourself for the first evening as this will be when people will be arriving throughout the day, so we have left how you choose to eat that day up to you. Food will be provided on days 2, 3 and 4 as part of the conference, but for day 5 you can decide to use up what’s left of your provisions or eat out. Many will be setting off home, so we have made no provision for food on day 5.

I have a disability is the place accessible?

Ribby Hall is used every year by us for our Inclusive Community Experience and whilst the site isn’t perfect it works and can work even better if you tell us what you need. The site is very flat and easy to get around in a wheelchair. Parking is close to all the properties and we can arrange for assistance if needed. There are accessible bungalows on site and we can bring in hoists if required, but do need plenty of notice. There are fully accessible changing facilities in the leisure centre, although to date there is no hoist by the pool. Accessible transport is available to and from the site. If you are unsure about anything, please do ask contact info@my-life.org.uk

What do I need to bring?

Bringing yourself is the most important thing! On a practical note, all of the cottages are newly refurbished with good quality laundered bedding, pillows etc. You will need to bring your toiletries, but towels are provided and don’t forget your toothbrush! The cottages are fully equipped with most kitchen utensils, etc. The kitchen has no food, although we do give you a food hamper, but it may be wise to bring any extras that you may wish to using in cooking, such as spices, salad dressing or other special ingredients. There is a shop on site and we do carry extra provisions if required. If you forget anything, don’t worry we can help you out, the supermarket is on the doorstep.

Where is the best place to fly in to?

This depends on where you are coming from. Manchester and Liverpool are both international airports. Manchester has regular connections from Heathrow and Gatwick. You can get the train to Kirkham and Wesham from any of these airports. Taxis are available at all main airports/train stations and, if you require, we may be able to link you up with others. Gocareshare.com is a great way to find others who are travelling by car – just put ABCD Festival UK in the search box.

I live in the UK do I need to come for the whole 5 days?

No, but due to this being an international conference, we have had to secure accommodation on either side of the main conference to allow time for travel and for people to settle in.

Can I come as a daily delegate?

Yes. The nature of the conference is to create a community and to not only learn, but to feel what this is like.