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Heart of the Community 2020

13th October 2020
9:30am - 11:30am
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Bookings are now open for the convenience and local shop sector’s pre-eminent political event, the ACS Heart of the Community conference!

This year’s conference will take place virtually on 13th October, bringing together convenience retailers, industry experts and senior policy makers to explore how the latest political agenda and legacy of Covid-19 will impact convenience store businesses now and into the future.This year’s conference is split into two sessions:

Community Session: Covid-19 and Community Credentials: Consumer Views on the Future and Local Shops

Covid has highlighted community role of local shops. How can retailers capitalise by developing their community credentials further?

Food Session: Assessing the Covid-19 Food Legacy for Shops and Policy

How we consume food continues to change and diversify, but what will be the pandemic’s food legacy? What does this mean for policy making, the national food strategy, and convenience store sales?

Bestselling author and political academic Professor Matthew Goodwin is confirmed as keynote speaker to discuss the forces shaping British politics and way these will impact policy related to local shops. Other confirmed speakers include Carers UK Chief Executive Helen Walker and COOK Co-founder Edward Perry.    

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Event Speakers

Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics, University of Kent

Matthew joined the School in 2015 and is known for his work on British and European politics, populism, immigration and Euroscepticism. Matthew holds a B.A. (First Class Hons), M.A. and PhD. He started his academic career working for a self-funded research institute at the University of Manchester. He was then awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Economic and Social Research Council. In 2010, he was appointed lecturer at the University of Nottingham, where he completed projects funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Nuffield Foundation, British Academy and others. He was also the recipient of an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship and spent twelve months on a full-time secondment in a central government department. In 2015 he was appointed Professor of Politics at the University of Kent.

Matthew has several other roles and responsibilities. Since 2008 he has been co-editor of the Routledge book series on Extremism and Democracy. Between 2011 and 2015 he served as a member of the UK government's working group on anti-Muslim hatred. Between 2013 and 2016 he was a Trustee and member of the executive committee of the Political Studies Association, a leading association for the study of politics that was founded in 1950. Matthew is an outward-facing researcher who shares the view that social science should be as much about contributing to wider society as to the social sciences. He frequently appears in broadcast and print media and has engaged with more than 200 non-academic organizations, from the European Parliament and U.S. State Department to the Prime Minister’s Office and Deutsche Bank.

Edward Perry, Co-Founder, COOK Trading

After working for his parents selling frozen handmade cakes, Ed started to wonder why meals weren’t made that way, too. He teamed up with his favourite customer, chef Dale Penfold, and in 1997 COOK was born. Dale made the food in an old pizza delivery kitchen and Ed sold it out of a little shop in Farnham.

All was going well until the financial crash of 2008 and they nearly lost their precious independence but managed to scrape through. Today COOK has grown to over 1,100 strong, with a turnover of around £70m. Along with the original shop in Farnham, there are over 80 others, plus a network of over 700 independent retailers and a thriving Home Delivery business.

COOK is still family-owned and are committed to be a force for good in society. They are B Corporation, accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, winner of scores of Great Taste Awards, and feature every year in the Top 100 Best Companies to Work For in the country.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive, Carers UK

Helen joined Carers UK in December 2018, from the national volunteering charity TimeBank where she was Chief Executive for ten years. Since joining Carers UK she has focussed on ensuring the financial stability and growth of the charity in order to launch an ambitious new strategy in 2021. Helen has been appointed to represent carers on the NHS Assembly, the body brought together to advise NHS England and NHS Improvement on the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan, as well as the National Institute for Health Research, School for Social Care Research Advisory Board at the LSE.

Her extensive leadership experience and sector knowledge saw her create a well-respected and successful brand at TimeBank, leaving the charity on a secure financial footing. Previously, Helen was Director of Fundraising at the military charity SSAFA and has worked in the voluntary sector for over 25 years. Brought up on the Isle of Man, she studied for a degree and M.Phil at the London School of Economics.

Michaela Rhode, Associate Director, BritainThinks

Michaela re-joined BritainThinks as an Associate Director in 2018, after a year in the Insight Team at the Greater London Authority. Prior to this, Michaela spent four years at BritainThinks working with a wide range of clients including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Home Office, The National Trust and the Financial Conduct Authority. 

Michaela has experience working across a wider range of methodologies, and audiences. She has particular expertise in conducting international research, having delivered a large scale stakeholder and public research project in 8 global markets for an international property company. In 2017 Michaela presented research conducted for Healthy London Partnerships at the MRS conference and was nominated for Best Newcomer Award. 

At the Greater London Authority, she advised policy teams on taking an insight led approach to policy development, including delivering behaviour change research on behalf of the Environment team, and research on apprenticeships and barriers to adult learning to inform the Skills Strategy for Londoners on behalf of the Economic and Business policy unit.

Michaela has a first-class degree in Modern Languages from Oxford University, and a Masters degree in Globalisation and Multinational Corporations from SOAS.

Sarah Williams, Programmes Director, Sustain

Sarah is Programme Director for Sustain having joined in in 2009, as part of the Capital Growth team who successfully supported 2,012 new community food growing spaces in London. Sarah has developed new areas of work at Sustain including the national Big Dig programme and work on our Growing Health project. She currently oversees most of the London programme of work, run under the London Food Link umbrella and represents Sustain on the London Food Board.

Prior to Sustain her roles have included running community regeneration projects, including at Groundwork East London where she lead on a series of environment based projects.

Sarah was also the Strategic Manager of the Newham Food Access Partnership, where years she coordinated the implementation a Food and Nutrition Strategic Plan. Sarah has a Masters in Leadership for Sustainable Development, achieved through the Forum for the Future programme.

Harj Dhasee, Independent Retailer, Nisa Village Stores Mickleton

Harj Dhasee started his own retail story back in 2008 after leaving a high-flying national accounts manager job and arriving in rural Gloucestershire. Harj owns and runs the Village Stores Mickleton with a team of 15 employees. Village Stores trades under the Nisa Local banner and Harj is heavily involved in the local community, also working with suppliers to promote local produce. Harj has acted as a retail consultant for other Nisa members and was a triple award winner at the Convenience Retail Awards 2019.

Paul Thomas, One Stop Bridgend

Paul Thomas opened his first Convenience Store as a One Stop Franchisee in March 2019 after a long and illustrious career in the Welsh music business.  From a cold start the store in Bridgend turned over £2m in the first year and Paul’s second store, also under the One Stop banner is due to open in November this year.  Paul enjoys traveling, sailing and golf and still keeps his hand in music, but just for fun these days.

Will Tanner, Director, Onward

Will Tanner advised the Prime Minister Theresa May between 2013 and 2017, as a Special Adviser in the Home Office and as Deputy Head of Policy in 10 Downing Street. He has also previously worked for the leading communications firm, Portland, and for the independent thinktank, Reform.

James Lowman, Chief Executive, ACS

James was appointed ACS Chief Executive in November 2006. He has led ACS on political and policy representation, driven a unique research programme that informs ACS’ policy work, launched an industry-leading assured advice scheme in partnership with Surrey County Council, created a new and unique events programme, and increased membership and engagement from all parts of the industry. He has been recognised for his work with outstanding achievement awards from HIM, Palmer & Harvey, YIGA, and the Retail Industry Awards. James is a member of ministerial advisory groups including the National Retail Crime Steering Group and the Retail Sector Council. He also sits on the boards of Community Alcohol Partnerships, the London Food Board and the High Streets Task Force. James joined ACS in 1997. He has a degree in Politics from the University of Essex, and an MBA from Kingston Business School.