mia’s latest agent day makes an emotional connection


A poignant keynote from Figen Murray OBE, the force behind Martyn’s Law, opened the Meetings Industry Association’s (mia) latest Connect Day in Manchester.

The mother of Martyn Hett, who at 29 years old was tragically killed in the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena in May 2017, evoked an emotional standing ovation as she shared her son’s story and how she’s remaining firmly focussed on driving positive change following the tragedy.

Giving an update on the status of Martyn’s Law (the amended Protect Duty) that was highlighted in the King’s November speech, Figen called upon the business meetings and events sector to act now.

A further public consultation will be taking place for ‘standard tier’ venues with a capacity of 100-799, before a second reading of the bill in Parliament is set to take place ahead of the seventh anniversary.

Figen encouraged the sector to establish Counter Terrorism plans and conduct risk assessments as well as utilise the resources and certified courses available on the Protect UK website. Although venues with a capacity of under 100 are exempt from the new legislation, she suggested they follow the ‘standard tier’ guidelines as best practice.   

Sharing a case study example of the work that has already been taken by the sector, Manchester Central’s chief executive Shaun Hinds offered other practical guidance on implementing Martyn’s Law in a panel discussion moderated by Agiito’s Sharon Bannister.

‘Unlocking hospitality’ was among other topics that were discussed during the event, at Manchester’s Emirates Old Trafford, which is designed to connect industry suppliers and venues with agents while addressing pressing challenges.

The New Futures Network – a specialist part of His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service – provided a fresh perspective to meeting the recruitment challenge by discussing the opportunities available from utilising prison leavers.

Neurodiversity in the workplace was also placed firmly on the agenda. With 79% of attendees revealing that they have experience of neurodiversity – whether that be themselves, a relative, friend or colleague – the panel discussion highlighted the importance of being open to help educate and drive change.

Essential advice was shared to make events more accommodating and inclusive. This included ways to improve joining instructions for visual learners, making provisions for quiet spaces in which delegates can disconnect as well as having mental health first aiders on hand. There were also calls for employers to have policies in place to help the neurodiverse to succeed, alongside encouragement for applicants to be open from the initial application – rather than addressing it further down the line. 

The day drew to a close with a light-hearted interactive workshop led by ACF Events’ Stephanie Hill and Christina Cook that filled the room with smiles. Based on the concept that you make your own happiness, the session revealed how laughing helps tease the brain to release endorphins and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, which combined contribute to a healthier immune system and overall wellbeing.

Inntel’s national account manager, Tiffany Casson, said: “The content of the day was excellent. The keynote with Figen moved me to tears but it is such an important topic and so relevant for the industry.”

mia’s business development director Sandra Eyre said: “While extremely poignant, Figen Murray’s determination to drive positive change from a tragedy is truly inspirational. It was good to hear the latest developments on Martyn’s Law while she called upon the business meetings and events sector to act now and not wait for the new legislation to come into force. The mia will be continuing to support Figen in her quest for adoption by sharing best practice guidance.”

She added: “We would like to thank all of our speakers and 14 agents who represented a number of the leading booking agents. We have been delighted with the feedback from this latest event and are busy implementing plans for next years’ series of Connect Days and Dinners.”

To find out more about future Connect Days visit https://www.mia-uk.org/connect-day.

Adam Parry
Author: Adam Parry

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.

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