Two days, 159 delegates, 15 speakers, 4 workshops, 6 award winners, and lots of learning…

This year’s conference celebrated LARIA’s 40th year, and despite the challenges we undoubtedly face as local researchers there was a strong sense that we have an important role to play in the future of public services.

Highlights for me included the rousing keynote from LARIA’s Honorary President Martin Reeves (we need to focus!), a powerful piece on the problems with outcomes-based performance management from Toby Lowe, and hearing from East Riding of Yorkshire about their qualitative research with leisure centre users. Plus two great workshops – one on ethnography, another exploring the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s action research on neighbourhood approaches to loneliness. Alongside hearing from others, I also had the opportunity to share the Kirklees experience of It’s Time to Talk – a new conversation with communities. And as is often the case, I got as much out of some of the informal connections and conversations as I did from the main sessions.

So as I left a sunny University of Warwick my mind was, as it should be after any good conference, buzzing!

What did you think of LARIA 2014? If you attended you can also take part in the feedback survey

Alison Monkhouse, Corporate Research & Consultation Manager (Kirklees Council) and LARIA Regional Co-Ordinator for Yorkshire & the Humber

Photo: Gerallt Evans-Hughes