I've been working for LARAC since 2004 which, coincidentally, was the first year of our scholarship programme - it is now in its 14th year. The scholarship was originally only envisaged as a 3-year programme to enable local authorities to send newer members of staff to the conference completely free of charge - with accommodation and travel all paid for. But the enthusiasm with which the scheme was received by our members, meant that no matter what, we have been determined to keep it going. We have succeeded in attracting funding for the programme through the years, and to date, unbelievably, I have seen almost 250 scholars pass through the scheme. Opportunities for scholars, don't end with the day job, either, the confidence you can gain from the experience has far-reaching results. I have worked with quite a few who have gone on to join the LARAC Exec. Liz Drew, was a scholar originally, and went on to become a valued policy officer at LARAC over many years, responding to many a consultation on our behalf, she also became a national rep and latterly represented Northern Ireland. Other scholars who have gone on to work with LARAC include: Hilary Garlick, stills serving as our Eastern Rep, Sallyanne Lindsay who was our Yorkshire and Humber rep before John Coates, and Amy Bridgford who is our SE rep. It gives me great pleasure to see the progression of many of our scholars, it's amazing how you don't forget a name! I have watched with interest as many of our scholars progress in their careers to managers, strategists and way beyond.
Every scholar has been very positive about their experience at the conference. Remember, we aim to fund those whom their authorities might not otherwise be able to find the money to send to this type of event.
We have been very lucky in that our partners in this venture have been very loyal. The present partner is REPIC; now funding their third batch of scholars. REPIC has developed the programme so that it spans practically the whole year, with opportunities for scholars to attend events, write blogs and generally get involved in the greater world of recycling. This supports the LARAC intention that attending the conference provides scholars not only with practical solutions to particular problems they might find in their workplace, but that they get a sense of their place in the industry as a whole. An event such as the LARAC conference is an ideal environment in which to gain that experience. There is the extensive conference programme of industry leaders' presentations, the workshops, the exhibition, where we have ways and means to encourage all attendees to go and meet our exhibitors who have a great deal of knowledge to share, and there is the Awards night which showcases the best of best practice. On top of that there is a special afternoon of seminars the day before the conference begins which is designed to introduce scholars to the industry. This is all CIWM accredited CPD.
I do encourage you to consider getting your newer employees to apply - there isn't a lot you can get for free nowadays, but this is definitely something very worthwhile! Applications close on 18th May and the results will be published by the end of May.
To access the criteria for applying and the application form you will need your authority's membership number and password so you can enter the LARAC Members' area. Click on 'Scholarship' - and then apply! It's a simple process. And after all, what have you got to lose?