– From strength to strength – if you build it, they will come –

By Sally Northeast

It’s a little hard to express the way I feel about Comms Unplugged. It might be a bit extreme to compare it to having children, but some of the emotions are similar: the pride, the ongoing wonder at how things develop, the desire to protect and nurture. You get to a point with your kids where you can barely remember life before you had them – and it’s the same with Comms Unplugged.

People have said to me and my co-creators Georgia and Darren: “I don’t know how you do it on top of the day job” or “Why would you spend so much time on it when you’ve got so much else on?”

The fact is, we all realise we started something a bit special and we need to keep it going. We know that what we’re doing is important, it’s different and it’s addressing a need for people in our profession. By recognising that looking after your wellbeing is as much a part of your skillset as learning, developing and just being a brilliant comms person, we’ve created something that’s really starting to resonate.

Even before each Comms Unplugged event is done, we’re into planning the next one. We’re brimming with ideas – and that includes all our amazing unpluggers too who inspire us to push things further and try something new every time.

Something about the way this thing has organically grown means it’s a constant inspiration to us and to the people on the journey with us. As I’ve said a few times, it has heart….in spades, and that’s what contributes to the emotional connection that we all feel to it.

On Saturday 3 August we sold out for #CU19 and we couldn’t be more proud. We upped our ticket numbers from 60 to 80 this year thinking we’d maybe get a few more than in 2018. We’d have been happy to equal the numbers – but we’ve added a third again this year and sold out even earlier.

In 2017, our first year, we were so convinced of our idea that we were almost shocked that we didn’t get the numbers we expected. We forgot that things can take a while, that people’s change curves and tolerance for the slightly ‘out there’ vary hugely. But enough people got it and joined us to let us know that we were on the right track.

Just like in Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. And, unpluggers, there you are signing up to be part of the next chapter of the #unplugged story. We can’t wait to see you all in the field – it’s going to be awesome!CU marquees at night

Pssssst – if you still hanker to be in the field and would like to go on a waiting list in case someone drops out, email us on commsunplugged@gmail.com.

Sally Northeast is one of the co-creators of Comms Unplugged and Deputy Director of Organisational Development, Participation and Communications at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust.