Strapline
Our renowned conference series is at the heart of our annual programme, empowering people, through dialogue and debate, to tackle the causes and effects of social division.
Participants at a Cumberland Lodge conference

These roundtable, residential events form a key part of our annual series of conferences, panel discussions and retreats, which run from September to August, in line with the academic year.

Our 2019-20 series was on the theme of Inclusion & Opportunity. We are extending this focus into 2020-21 and following up on key recommendations from our recent reports, taking our conference sessions online in light of ongoing restrictions to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Recent Cumberland Lodge conferences have covered topics ranging from: extremism, hate crime, modern slavery and violence against women, to community resilience, the impacts of 'difficult histories' on identities and belonging, the changing world of work as it impacts on identity, race and identity in the UK, and ethnic inequalities at work. Reports and recommendations from these projects can be found here.

Challenging silo thinking

By convening multi-sector, interdisciplinary conferences, involving people who might otherwise not have the chance to meet, we help to break down silo thinking and incubate fresh ideas, promoting progress towards more peaceful, open and inclusive societies.

Participants in the conversations we convene include academics and research students, parliamentarians and policymakers, community leaders and frontline workers, faith leaders, professionals, third-sector representatives, heads of organisations, business leaders, journalists, parliamentarians, and more.

Young people are actively involved in all our conferences, to encourage intergenerational exchange and mutual learning, and to help nurture the change-makers and leaders of the future.

Speaker-delegates engage with one another through roundtable discussions, breakout sessions and other group activities, as well as over meals, during break times and in the evenings. This year, while we are unable to bring people together in person, we are using video conferencing software to facilitate virtual conferences.

For our residential conferences, we provide comfortable, overnight accommodation and meals, and attendance is supported by our charitable funds. We also offer a limited number of bursaries for travel expenses to and from Cumberland Lodge, to help postgraduate students with limited financial means to attend.

Open exchange of views

Some of the sessions within our conferences are held under the Chatham House Rule, to help facilitate open and honest debate and discussion. Participants are free to use the information they gather, but the identities and affiliations of the speakers or participants will not be revealed outside of the room.

Wherever possible, we share discussions and learning from our conferences with the wider public, through blogs, recordings, videos, transcripts or copies of presentations, on our Read, Watch, Listen webpages and via our social media channels.

Some of our conferences incorporate a free, public lecture with the opportunity for audience members to pose questions to the guest speaker.

Specific guidance for speakers and contributors can be downloaded in PDF format from this webpage.

We use a range of different tools and approaches to encourage an open exchange of views and ideas. These include:

  • Zoom meetings and break-out groups, for online conference sessions
  • Interactive event tools via a mobile app, for in-session live polls and anonymous question submission, conversation keyword clouds, and post-session feedback surveys
  • Short, provocative introductions from speakers to kick-start conversations and leave more time for group discussion
  • Whiteboards on conference tables and flipcharts and whiteboards around the room, to encourage participants to make notes, raise further questions and share creative ideas during discussions
  • Involving as many participants as possible in sharing their responses and ideas to guest presentations, rather than facilitating traditional question-and-answer sessions
  • Ice-breaker exercises and interactive introductions to sessions, to help break down barriers to candid conversation
  • Frequent roundtable discussions, with participants encouraged to change tables at the start of each new session, to help build networks and inspire new collaborations.

The Mews Conference Centre, Cumberland Lodge

Research and publications

Our conferences are informed by independent, cross-sector, interdisciplinary research, which is compiled by one of our freelance Research Associates with expertise in the field, and presented in a comprehensive pre-conference briefing.

Key findings and creative ideas from our residential conferences are critiqued and refined through expert consultations, before being launched in London and published in a Cumberland Lodge Report, highlighting practical, policy-focused recommendations for positive change.

All our briefings and reports can be found on our Read, Watch, Listen webpages.

Police Conference

Cumberland Lodge has been creating a safe space for constructive dialogue on the most pressing policing and criminal justice matters, since 1981.

Guided by our Police Steering Committee of police leaders and serving police officers, we run a renowned Police Conference each year. It brings together a multi-agency delegation of senior police officers, NGO leaders, lawyers, academics and senior civil servants, to tackle a key issue at the forefront of the police agenda.

Our involvement in this arena goes back to the earliest days of the foundation, with meetings on policing matters having taken place here since the 1950s. Recently, we have explored topics ranging from surveillance to drug abuse and gang crime, multiculturalism, and relationships with the media.

Our guest speakers have included Government representatives, senior policymakers and All-Party Parliamentary Group chairs, prominent senior serving officers, NGO leaders, Police and Crime Commissioners, academics, MPs and Cabinet Ministers. Our Steering Committee is currently chaired by Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney QPM (National Police Chiefs Council lead for Local Communities), and her predecessor was Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM, now the UK's Independent Anti Slavery Commissioner.

Conference facilities

Cumberland Lodge has been convening conferences since the 1980s, when the Georgian mews next to the main Lodge was converted into a purpose-built conference and accommodation block, with the latest conferencing facilities and audio-visual technologies.

Today, The Mews Conference Centre comprises three main conference rooms, three breakout rooms, self-catering facilities, a small broadcast studio, and 16 bedrooms on the upper floors.

Our residential conferences accommodate up to 60 delegates overnight, and meals are provided in our historic dining rooms or out on the lawn in fine weather, by our talented team of chefs.

Find out more about our facilities and surroundings here.