Category Archives: event info

A hiatus from The Satori Lab in 2018

Handwritten text reads "Unconference it's fun and it doesn't hurt"
GovCamp Cymru 2017 by Sara Long used under CC-BY 2.0

Nearly five years ago a small group of us felt that we could see a gap in Welsh public life.

We felt that Wales didn’t have a space where people delivering public services could come together to talk about the challenges that were over the hill. The big things that were coming round the mountain that organisations needed to be ready for.

So we decided to set up an unconference for public services in Wales: GovCampCymru. Because someone needs to get these things going: The Satori Lab volunteered to manage the process and look after the finances for the first three years. Those first three events seemed to go pretty well. So we made GovCampCymru 2017 happen too.

It’s 2018 now and we’ve given some thought to the prospect of a GovCampCymru 2018.

We’ve come to the conclusion that The Satori Lab won’t make this one happen. We want to take a hiatus and to be able to focus on some other things this year. And we don’t want GovCampCymru just to become another step on the hamster wheel. It should be a solution to a problem that a bunch of us agree exists. It should have passion and energy behind it and we have passion and energy for some smaller scale, more experimental ideas in 2018.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be a GovCampCymru this year. It’s a community event not a company event and we’ll be very happy to hand over the keys and the resources to anyone from the community who wants to make it happen.

But we’re going to take a break.

We’re not saying we’ll never drive forward an event like this.

But we are saying we won’t do this in 2018.

GovCamp Cymru 2017: the stories, the pictures, the ideas

So much **SO MUCH** great stuff happened at #gccy17! Here are some of the materials that came out of the event…


This is the session grid, i.e. the agenda that was collectively created on the day and populated by GovCampers with the topics that they wanted to talk about. Check out the grid for all the topics, and follow the link from each session for the notes that were collated as an outcome of the conversation. 

Helen Frost of Frost Creative drew the notes of the sessions in this one magnificent piece. Follow this link to access the file in various formats if you want to use or share it – credit to Frost Creative.






Have more materials to add? Email the and we’ll add it in!

All About Pitching

The key aspect of an unconference that makes it so special is that there is no agenda. The whole day is created and led by those who turn up. The topics and ideas to be discussed are pitched by the attendees on the day to form a session grid.

Pitches can be about anything that interests you. What are you passionate about? What are you working on that you think others can learn from? If you’re stuck for ideas for pitching please check out this great blog from Ben Proctor

Pitches do not have to be formal. Unconferences are for everyone and we make it work together. So please pitch even if you’re new to GovCamp Cymru or unconferences in general. It is the diverse and interesting range of topics and ideas that brings such great value to the day. Pitches do not need to be rehearsed so if you have a moment of inspiration on the day please pitch away. The only things we would ask are:

  • Pitches should be short and to the point – ideally lasting less than 30 seconds
  • That the pitch should include 1 clear topic/question/idea/issue.

How are the sessions created?

At the beginning of the day everyone meets together in the main room to hear the pitches. Everyone who has a pitch to make lines up and has approximately 30 seconds to pitch their idea to the room. If you have a great pitch suggestion but don’t fancy standing up in front of everyone, then we will have a pitching station where volunteers are on hand to talk through your ideas and/or pitch on your behalf. When the pitches are made, people in the audience indicate if they’re interested in each topic, so that we can estimate what size of room will be needed for each session. The pitches are written on sticky notes and added to the session grid and that is the running order for the day. There are four session blocks, 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon with 5 parallel sessions running in each block lasting about an hour each, spread across 5 separate rooms .

What happens in a session?

Each session takes place in a meeting room. We have various sizes of room available. There will be chairs in a circle, and one of our volunteers will be there to take notes. The assumption is that everything happens in the open, so if you don’t want to be quoted in the notes please make sure you say that clearly. The session notes will be shared so that people who couldn’t be there can find out what was discussed.

We don’t provide any other equipment for sessions (except for a few post-its notes and biros), so if you want flipcharts or any other materials to support your pitch, you will need to bring those yourselves.

We have very few rules:

Good sessions tend to:

  • have someone who introduces the session and gets things going
  • have a clear topic
  • encourage discussion, with a chance for everyone to join
  • include a few minutes at the end to close the session down
  • generate ideas for things people can do after camp

If you’re considering pitching a session and have things to say yourself during the session, you could consider asking someone to act as a facilitator to keep things flowing and make sure everyone gets to speak who wants to. We’ll have a few volunteers on hand on the day who will be able to do this for you, or ask one of your friendly fellow govcampers who may be willing to help.

Still unsure about pitching? Check out these great videos from Barod:

Volunteering at GovCamp Cymru (and why you should)

This is  a guest blog post about GovCamp Cymru written by our long-standing (and favourite but shhh! don’t tell her, she might blush) volunteer, about what her experience has been like. Written by Kate Williams. 

GovCamp Cymru 2017 will be my fourth year of volunteering at the event. And, as with every year, I’m excited to be helping out. So why do I keep returning each year and why do I volunteer?

Firstly, why do I keep coming back to GovCamp Cymru? I’m passionate about public services, the intricacies, the faults and the potential. I care about public services and how we can collectively work to help create a better future for our communities. Attending GovCamp Cymru enables me to be witness to thought provoking conversations and learning that I can incorporate back into my own working practices and share with others in my organisation. I am not a “game changer”, an influencer, or a shining example of a public servant but I care, I get to meet people who are those inspiring examples and I learn something new each time I attend.

So why do I volunteer to be part of GovCamp Cymru? I get to work with amazing people who I love, who inspire me and who welcome me into their fold. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to feel like I’m a part of GovCamp Cymru and that, even in a very small way, I’m helping to make it happen.

From a personal perspective, I struggle with social anxiety that can be severe at times. Walking into a crowded room fills me with fear and though you may not see it from the outside, inside I am filled with panic. Being a volunteer at GovCamp Cymru gives me a sense of purpose and focus that helps to counteract the overwhelming fight or flight instinct.

I often worry that I’m not clever, experienced, or eloquent enough to attend GovCamp Cymru. At the previous events I have met some amazing people who are extremely clever, experienced and eloquent. And these amazing people have always been welcoming, kind and eager to hear different perspectives. Despite this, because of my introversion/anxiety/shyness I find it difficult to contribute during the sessions. Not because I’m not welcomed to, the groups are always inclusive and friendly. Volunteering for GovCamp Cymru lets me contribute in a different way. Taking the notes for the sessions is probably one of my favourite tasks as it allows me to have a clear purpose to being witness to the discussions without the pressure to speak. There are many roles and tasks that people can get stuck into when volunteering that means everyone can play to their own strengths and contribute in a way that they are comfortable with.

Volunteering isn’t just for the quiet introvert, the gregarious extrovert (and everything in-between) can be equally at home when volunteering. There really is a part for anyone and everyone to play at GovCamp Cymru. But don’t just take my word for it:

“Volunteering at GovCamp Cymru gave me the chance to learn so much about what’s happening across Wales and beyond. It’s a unique opportunity to meet great people who are passionate about improving public services.” @DyfrigWilliams

So why should you volunteer? For all the reasons above. Volunteers are a vital part of GovCamp Cymru and you would get to be part of a friendly group of dedicated people who care about public services, helping to make GovCamp Cymru  possible. Whilst being an attendee is a great experience, being a volunteer takes it to the next level of involvement, providing opportunities to contribute in a multitude of different ways. We need you so please sign up today and you will create amazing memories, gain knowledge and experience what is involved in running an unconference.

GovCamp Cymru 2017 is happening on 14th October.  Join the conversation online on the GovCamp Cymru Slack. (New to Slack?) Join the mailing list for ticket releases, the first batch will be available on Monday 26th June, 10:00am. Find us on twitter and Facebook!

Do you fancy contributing a guest blog post on a topic relevant to public services in Wales? Get in touch with