This March saw the 22nd National Council Meeting of ELSA United Kingdom, and the second NCM of the year, held in the vibrant and second-largest city in the UK, Birmingham.
On Friday 6th March 2020, the 22nd National Council Meeting began by welcoming over 120 participants from all over the UK and Europe to the University of Birmingham’s iconic Aston Webb Great Hall. Participants included representatives of over 20 Local groups from the UK, international representatives from the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, and Bulgaria as well as esteemed ELSA UK alumni. ELSA Birmingham also had the incredible pleasure of being joined by representatives of the International Board of ELSA, Diomidis Afentoulis and Meeri Toivanen, President and VP STEP respectively. The opening plenary started with an address of the incredibly insightful and personable head of the Birmingham Law School, Professor Lisa Webley, who underlined the importance of maintaining and nurturing the ideals of teamwork and acceptance during such times, recognising these as key strengths of the ELSA Community at large.
On Saturday 7th March, the day began with workshops delivered by the members of the National Board. The National Board had a chance to conduct in-depth training based on their various experiences gained throughout the year at international internal meetings and through their own work. The workshops were primarily focused on transition in order to prepare local officers for their own transition processes. This ensures that future committees and officers benefit from the incredible work of their successors and possess the necessary knowledge to build on it.
Furthermore, as always, the workshops were the perfect occasion for members of the National Board to receive and act on the feedback provided by the participants and to exchange ideas and best practices. The day then concluded with the mid plenary which saw the presentation of various proposals as well as observer, membership and NCM host applications.
The Final Plenary on Sunday 8th March witnessed exciting and stimulating discussions and voting demonstrating the growing interest and strength of the ELSA UK network. It was with incredible pleasure that ELSA UK welcomed 3 new Observer groups – ELSA Northumbria, ELSA Cambridge, and ELSA Durham – as well as, one new Member group – ELSA Leicester raising the number of ELSA UK local groups to 26. Furthermore, the council decided to vote in favour of the next Autumn NCM to be held by ELSA Glasgow.
Finally, with much anticipation, the Final Plenary also saw the election of the National Board for the upcoming academic year. It was interesting and inspiring to see all the incredible candidates present their plans and both humbling and emotional for the current National Board to see their motivated successors elected.
In the true ELSA spirit, the NCM also provided for a jam-packed social programme starting on the Friday night with the first stop at Walkabout Bar on the infamous Broad Street for an initial drinks reception and light dancing, followed by ending the night at Players Club, one of the most visited clubs by University Students from Birmingham. The Saturday night saw participants dress to impress with the evening kicking off at the Cube venue situated on the beautiful Birmingham canals for the James Bond themed gala evening. The evening was the perfect occasion for the annual awards ceremony celebrating our wonderful local groups and officers that have contributed so much to the network during the past year. After a luscious 3 course meal, the attendees had the opportunity to dance the night away on the dance floor.
A heartfelt thank you goes to all for making the 22nd National Council Meeting of ELSA UK such an incredible and memorable experience; to the council and all the participants for being so active and engaging; to our incredible international guests that as always demonstrate that one of the greatest strengths of the ELSA network is that of being a second family; to our lovely Chair Meeri, former VP STEP of ELSA UK and Vice-Chair Diomidis for taking the time from their busy schedules to travel from Brussels and lead the work of the council with such passion and dedication; and finally to the esteemed ELSA UK Alumni who continue to support us every day through their knowledge and experience.
Finally, I wish to extend the biggest thank you to my fellow members of ELSA Birmingham and those of the Organising Committee. It is their passion, tireless work and incredible ELSA Spirit that really made this NCM a memorable one and that reminds me every day how lucky I was to be surrounded by such an incredible team of people.
Now without further ado, it is ELSA Glasgow’s turn to organise what we are sure will be a wonderful and exciting NCM!
Francesco Bondi is a Final Year LLB International Law and Globalisation student at the University of Birmingham. He first became involved with ELSA in September 2018 as co-founder and VP STEP of ELSA Birmingham. Currently, he is serving as President of ELSA Birmingham and VP STEP of ELSA UK for the 2019/2020 academic year. Francesco enjoys traveling and discovering new cultures.