Incorporating Comorbidity E-News
Conference Consortium Announcement (IHRA)
It is with much regret that we inform you that the Conference Consortium ceased trading on the 18th May 2011. The directors have appointed Valentine and Co, 4 & 6 Dancastle Court, 14 Arcadia Avenue, London N3 2HS, to handle the liquidation process and all and any correspondence regarding claims should be
addressed to Aron Taylor at Valentine and Co (E-mail Aron@valentine-co.com).
The Conference Consortium was established in 2005 by a group of non-governmental organisations, trades unions, professional associations and national bodies. Supported by an experienced staff team and operating in a similar way to a social enterprise, it was dedicated to organising conferences, seminars, exhibitions and other events promoting the most appropriate, relevant and effective policies and practice in response to the use of illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
The Consortium’s primary aim was to provide a platform for discussion and debate on policy relating to the overlapping fields of drugs, alcohol, criminal justice and other related issues, such as mental and physical health, education, training and employment and homelessness. It was unique in the field in its passion for the issues and commitment to engaging the widest possible audiences. We prided ourselves in our ability to gather a wide and diverse range of stakeholders, including drugs, alcohol and criminal justice practitioners, drug users, advocates, academics, politicians and parliamentarians and government planners. Our conferences always had an ethos of equality and encouraged collaboration to achieve shared goals.
In its six years the Consortium has produced over 20 events, ranging from small seminars, to high profile public lectures and national and international conferences. These events, held in 5 countries, between them attracted over
7,000 participants, from 100+ countries around the world. Included in the total were 5 editions of the flagship annual conference for the International Harm Reduction Association (now Harm Reduction International). These
conferences in Warsaw, Barcelona, Bangkok, Liverpool and Beirut, brought together the wide constituency of people working in the harm reduction field during a period of rapid change and development in many areas of the world.
The last IHRA conference – in Beirut in April 2011– was a great success and brought harm reduction to the attention of a new constituency in the Middle East and North Africa region, where harm reduction is under-developed and NGOs are weak. But a combination of factors meant that the conference was not a success financially and this led directly to the demise of the
Consortium. These included the political situation in the Middle East and the response of western governments to this. More significantly, we misjudged the capacity, ability and enthusiasm of local conference partners in the
organisation, planning, promotion and fund-raising for the event. We hope the conference has taken harm reduction forward in the region, but the price for that is that the Consortium can no longer operate.
In addition to conferences and events the Consortium established the Cross Party Group on Drug and Alcohol Treatment and Harm Reduction for UK Parliamentarians. Consortium members have undertaken independently to continue to support this group in its efforts to influence policy in the UK. We supported the Paolo Pertica Fellowship, which fosters new thinking and research on practice within the field of criminal justice and drug
interventions, and also established an annual lecture in memory of Alison Chesney and Eddie Killoran, two passionate supporters of drug treatment and harm reduction, sadly no longer with us. We are seeking ways to ensure that both the fellowship and the lecture survive the demise of the Consortium.
The Consortium negotiated arrangements with the proposed venue for next year’s conference, in Adelaide, that would allow for the contract to be transferred to IHRA/HRI and their local partners. We understand that IHRA/HRI has declined this offer and has cancelled the event.
It has been a great six years and many of the achievements of the Consortium will endure. The board and staff of the Consortium would like to express our appreciation to all the donors large and small, exhibitors, speakers, conference partners and committees, volunteers and conference participants who have joined with us over the years in taking forward the search for effective responses to the use of illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
The Conference Consortium Board – May 2011