Sadly, the Unusual Suspects Festival is not an ode to all things Keyser Soze, however, this three day event due to be held in Glasgow next month is well worth considering nonetheless. The Festival has been organised by the Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) in collaboration with a range of key stakeholders from the academic, public and third sectors – including Glasgow Caledonian University.
Initially, this event grew out of a frustration with discussions occurring solely with what organisers deemed ‘the usual suspects’. A growing wish emerged to break down traditional boundaries between theory, practise and policy and from this aspiration, last year’s inaugural Festival in London was developed by SIX in partnership with Collaborate and the Caloustse Gulbenkian Foundation. Bringing together individuals from a wide range of different perspectives was felt to be vital for social innovation to flourish, new ideas to be generated and societal change to occur. It was deemed a rousing success – with over 35 different organisations coming together to host 28 unique events, and saw over 1,500 people from 15 different countries participate and engage in the Festival.
The attention now turns to Glasgow – the city tasked with the opportunity to build on this success. From the 7th – 9th October, a wide range of events will be hosted across the city, bringing together a diverse mix of people in the hope that, by building unusual connections and collaborations, real social change may be enabled. The event will kick off on Wednesday 7th October with an evening reception that will deliver a mix of speeches, drinks and a chance for all participants and partners to meet and mingle. The following two days will take attendees on a journey through Glasgow; visiting a range of key actors from grassroots community groups to national third sector organisations and public sector partners.
Highlights include sessions led by leading social entrepreneurs, such as Rachel Brown’s Thursday morning session at GCU’s Yunus Centre, and a wide range of exciting examples of innovative partnership working. It is this collaborative approach that forms the bedrock of this Festival, with a vast array of events devoted to highlighting success stories across sectors, subject area and international boundaries. The theme of young people is also apparent with Inspiring Scotland and the Scottish Government’s gathering aiming to illustrate their joint project detailing the importance of play to the health and wellbeing of children. Make a Difference (MaD) Asia – a model that aims to inspire and empower young people all over Asia to come up with creative responses to societal challenges – will also be presented and discussed during the last session of the day on Thursday.
The diversity of this Festival continues into its third day when representatives from the Scottish Government, the Edinburgh College of Art, IRISS and The Melting Pot (amongst others) all take to the stage. Between 10am and 12.30pm, the Glasgow Centre of Population Health and International Futures Forum will also be playing ‘The Glasgow Game’ – an interactive tool that enables attendees to become involved in an active conversation about life in Glasgow, incorporating elements of health, transport, education, social capital, culture and community cohesion (amongst others). The organisers stress the applicability of this role-playing game to contexts out with Glasgow, and highlight that the “experience of ‘playing our way into complexity’ (and out the other side) will be of value to all”.
This is, of course, just a small sample of what’s on offer across the full three days and more details can be found on the Festival website. GCU are proud to be hosting a number of sessions throughout the three day event and invite everyone to come and take part in what promises to be an exciting program full of unusual suspects (*Kevin Spacey sightings not guaranteed).